Lights, Camera, Action! A quick tour of movie locations in the UK

  • 07th August 2014

An unusual but fun way of touring the UK is to seek out locations from famous films. We’ve compiled a list of some film locations near to our bmi regional UK airport hubs that will give you a taste of the variety of the country’s heritage – from ancient cathedrals and castles to the Beatles’ childhood homes…

Bristol & The South West

Nearest bmi regional airport – Bristol Airport

Wallace & Gromit

Fans of the Oscar-winning Wallace & Gromit films will know that Bristol is the home of Aardman Animations – the company famous for creating wonderful short and full-length stop-frame animated films.

Sadly, the company doesn’t run tours but if you’re in Bristol over the summer months you can visit the Wallace & Gromit – From the Drawing Board exhibition until 7 September 2014, at M Shed on Bristol’s harbourside.

The exhibition includes some of the famous W&G film sets, Nick Park’s notebook, plus the ‘rocket’ W&G used to visit the Moon in the film A Grand Day Out (1990).

Starter For Ten (2006)

This romantic comedy starring James McAvoy is set in the 1980s and concerns a Bristol University student determined to appear on the BBC TV programme University Challenge. Locations include Bristol University, Royal York Crescent, Redcliffe Wharf and Christmas Steps.

Bristol is a great city to walk around and armed with a map of the city you can easily search out these locations. In addition, the Visit Bristol website has a comprehensive list of Bristol tours to choose from.

Harry Potter & Hogwarts

gloucester cathedral_original

The beautiful exterior of the 11th century Gloucester Cathedral was used in the Harry Potter films to portray Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You might recognise the cathedral’s elaborately vaulted cloisters as the corridors leading to the Gryffindor Common room. The Cathedral even has an ancient crypt said to be haunted by monks!

Northumberland & Durham

Nearest bmi regional airport – Newcastle Airport

Harry Potter & Hogwarts

The hugely popular Harry Potter films were filmed in a variety of locations around the UK but there are some very special places in beautiful Northumberland (not far from Newcastle Airport) that you can visit to soak up that magical Hogwarts atmosphere.

alnwick castle_original

Remember the very first film Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (2001) and the scene where Harry has his first flying lesson with Madame Hooch? This was filmed in beautiful Alnwick Castle which has been the home of the Percy family (Dukes of Northumberland) for 700 years. The castle and its spectacular gardens is open to the public (Muggles) between April and October). Beware though – between 28 July and 8 August 2014 some of the State Rooms in the castle will be closed as a major TV drama is being filmed there!

Alnwick Castle was also used as a film location for Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991) and Elizabeth (1997).

harry potter_original

The 11th century Durham Cathedral, one of the UK’s finest Norman buildings and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was also used as a stand-in for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It’s elegant cloisters became the school’s snow-covered quadrangle in the Philosopher’s Stone where Harry first flew his snowy owl Hedwig. The cathedral chapter house is where Professor McGonagall taught Harry and his friends how to turn animals into water goblets.

The Midlands

Nearest bmi regional airport – East Midlands Airport

Pride And Prejudice (2005)

Historic Chatsworth House in the heart of Derbyshire’s Peak District, was used as Pemberley, the home of dashing Mr Darcy (played by Mathew Macfadyen) in this adaptation of Jane Austen’s famous romance in 2005.

pride and prejudice

The house is open to the public from mid-march to the just before Christmas each year and you can even stay in holiday cottages and hotels set in the 35,000 acre estate. If you walk around the house you will recognise the grand staircase and ceiling of the Painted Hall as well as the Sculpture Gallery, which was used for the scene where Lizzie Bennet (Keira Knightley) sees the bust of Mr Darcy.

Nearby Haddon Hall, south of Bakewell, was also transformed into the Inn at Lambton, and its dining hall was used as Lizzie Bennet’s bedroom.

The Da Vinci Code (2005)

da vinci code_original

Dating back some 900 years, beautiful Lincoln Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Between 1311 and 1549 it was the tallest building in the world – that’s almost 250 years. Another, more recent claim to fame is that its cloisters and chapter house were used to represent Westminster Abbey in The Da Vinci Code  (2005), starring Tom Hanks.

You can take tours of the cathedral throughout the year and admire the magnificent Rose windows – and even one of only four surviving copies of the Magna Carta dating from 1215.

Manchester & Liverpool

Nearest bmi regional airport – Manchester

24 Hour Party People (2004)

This comedy drama is loosely based on the real-life story of Tony Wilson (played by Steve Coogan), the TV reporter and head of Factory Records who was a key player in developing the ‘Madchester’ music scene in Manchester in the late 80s and into the early 90s. Die-hard fans of the movie can see an almost scene-by-scene breakdown of the locations used for the film here.

Nowhere Boy (2009)

Another story involving music and real people, this film examines the early career of John Lennon (played by Aaron Johnson) as he negotiates adolescence and eventually forms The Beatles with Paul McCartney in 1960s Liverpool.

Many of the exterior scenes for the film were shot around the city and suburbs including Liverpool’s famous Stanley Dock. The interior scenes that take place in Mendips – the house in Menlove Avenue that Lennon shared with his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George – were not shot in the actual house but on a sound stage at Ealing Studios in London.

john lennon_original

However, the property is now owned by the National Trust and Beatles’ fans will be delighted to know that it’s possible to book online here for a tour of both Mendips as well as the boyhood home of Paul McCartney at 20 Forthlin Road.

East Anglia

Nearest bmi regional airport – Norwich

Shakespeare In Love (1998) / The Duchess (2008)

shakespeare in love_original

Holkham, on the North Norfolk coast, has a fabulous wide, wind-swept sandy beach. You may remember it from the end sequence of the romantic comedy-drama Shakespeare in Love, which starred Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes. If you time your visit to Holkham beach right, you might be lucky enough to see the horses of the Household Cavalry being exercised. The horses are brought here every summer.

Not too far from the beach is Holkham Hall which featured in the period drama The Duchess (2008), starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes – which neatly brings us back to Harry Potter again, as Fiennes played the ultimate baddy: he who must not be named (Voldemort)!

Happy movie location hunting!

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