There’s something rather magical about visiting a location you recognise from your favourite film, so here are location details for 10 of the most iconic films ever made in Britain.
1) Our first location is a beach in Pembrokeshire on the south west Wales coast which has been seen in two recent films – “Robin Hood” staring Russell Crow and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”. It’s not hard to see how this vast expanse of beach with little pools created at low tide could be used to captivate an audience and holiday makers alike, especially those carrying surfboards. The beach is called Freshwater West Beach just down the road from Saundersfoot.
2) West Sands Beach by St. Andrews (home of the famous golf course) is probably one of the most iconic images ever filmed. The beach appears in the opening title sequence of Chariots of Fire backed by that haunting theme tune by Vangelis. Here’s a video of Chariots of fire opening sequence – just remember to turn the sound up.
3) Moving from the opening scenes to a modern day classic closing scene that couldn’t really have been filmed in many places. When the director said he needed a long walking away scene, Holkham beach in Norfolk provided the perfect venue for the ending of Shakespeare in Love (1998). The beach goes on for four miles of sand and grasses with a gentle slope down to the sea, ideal for family walks and dogs.
4) Brideshead (TV Series) and Brideshead Revisited the film both took advantage of the 18th-century masterpiece designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, known as Castle Howard. The house is situated around 20 miles north of York and hasn’t generally suffered the same problems as some major stately homes with throngs of tourists and great long queues…at least until people read this blog entry, maybe. The house is on a par with houses such as Blenheim Palace and Hampton Court, so is well worth the visit whether or not you like period dramas.
5) Lincoln Cathedral was one of the settings for the 2006 film The Da Vinci Code, although the cathedral which is pretty historic in it’s own right, was meant to look like Westminster Abbey. The fact is, the 13th Century Lincoln Cathedral was just more historic looking than it’s famous London cousin. There is plenty of history surrounding the castle including having one of only four copies of the Magna Catra in existence.
6) Another of the locations made famous by Dan Browns’ book is The Chapel Rosslyn near Edinburgh. Again the building is steeped in history itself, but it became almost a mecca for Da Vinci Code enthusiasts after the film was released having been named in it. The 15th Century chapel is claimed to have connections with the Knights Templer and the Masons, both of whom are believed to be connected in the Da Vinci Code.
7) For number 7 we have to go way back to 1945 and the classic wartime film Brief Encounter. The railway station scene when Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) says goodbye to Dr. Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard) and disappears off in a cloud of steam as the train pulls away, was filmed at Carnforth Station in Lancashire. The station really hasn’t changed that much since the film and is now part of a museum. It gives film goers a true sense of the romance from one of the most romantic films ever made.
8. Withnail and I is one of those films you generally only see on Channel 4, but it has turned into a cult classic over time. Much of the filming was done in London and down south, although a significant part of the film is supposed to be set in Penrith (my home town), but was actually filled a few miles outside between Shap village and Bampton. The “Crow Crag” in the film is really called Sleddale Hall, a slightly overly grand title for what is a single story slightly run-down farmhouse, although in 2009 it sold for around £265,000.
The location is in the north of Cumbria, probably best accessed from J39 of the M6 (one junction south of Penrith), following the road to the A6 then turn right and later left right at the far end of the village just before the humpback bridge. Please note, the roads are typical single track and the actual property is now a private residence (although not sure if it’s been restored yet).
9) We reported on Haworth in Yorkshire back in July which is the home of the classic film, The Railway Children staring Jenny Agutter. It’s now 40 years since Bobbie said those immortal words “Daddy, my daddy!” as her father emerged on the platform after being released from prison on petition by the “Old Gentleman”. Oakworth Station still exists on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, where the platform scenes took place, along with Three Chimneys where the family took up residence. Much of the town still looks like it came straight out of the book, with it’s cobbled streets and old fashioned style shop fronts.
10) Another recent article mentioned one of the many locations for Harry Potter filming. Alnwick Castle is probably the most famous location as the setting for Hogwarts School of Magic, but en-route to Hogwarts and at a number of other times a train is seeing passing over a high railway bridge. This wasn’t computer generated – the bridge is called the Glenfinnan viaduct on the line from Fort William to Mallaig in Scotland, with views down to the loch itself.