English Gardens: Haven’t I Seen You Somewhere Before?

Spotting British actors we’ve seen in TV shows and movies is a favorite pastime at our house, but even better is spotting the UK locales where our favorite shows and movies were filmed. Here’s a little rundown of where some of the more popular films and TV shows were filmed in England

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen fans have their own favorite version of this classic, but for locations, my favorite is the Keira Knightley version from 2005, because it showcases two of my favorite gardens. Remember the scene when Lizzie Bennet is running over a low, arched bridge in the pouring rain? Mr. Darcy watches and waits for her at a folly – a small stone building on a hill. That is Stourhead , a National Trust garden in Wiltshire. It’s a fabulous example of the 18th-century landscape movement, a naturalistic style where gardeners moved heaven and earth to make it look as if nothing had been done. Even better for me, I’ve been on that very bridge in the pouring rain. Now, where was Mr. Darcy?

Also in the same movie version, is a breathtaking view of Chatsworth , the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire (she is also known as Debo, the youngest of the Mitford sisters). Chatsworth, which is in Derbyshire in an area known as The Peak District, stands in for Mr. Darcy’s home Pemberley. Lizzie first sees it when she and her aunt and uncle stop for lunch nearby and decide to visit the house – when Lizzie first climbs the small knoll and sees Pemberley, she laughs with amazement at its grandeur.

*Note: Be sure to have lunch, coffee or tea in the cafes at both places.

Doc Martin

Fans of this British TV series (shown on PBS) fall in love with Port Wenn – the deep blue sea against white sand, fishing boats in the tiny harbor, the steep walk from the village up to the doctor’s surgery (a surgery in England is the doctor’s office). Port Wenn is, in reality, Port Isaac, a tiny village on the north coast of Cornwall. If you become so enamored of Cornwall, you might just want to walk the coastal path – all 630 miles of it. If that sounds like too much for one trip, you can always walk short bits, from village to village – with a pub stop on the way.
*Note: If you’ve ever heard Martin Clunes, the actor who plays Doc Martin, interviewed, you will know that he is a friendly and engaging person – and he loves dogs!

Ladies in Lavender

Dame Judi Dench and Maggie Smith star in this lovely story of sisters who take in a foreigner who – literally – washes up on the shore. Cornwall is the star here too. St. Ives on the north coast as well as Cadgwith, a tiny village on the Lizard peninsula, were among the several locations used for the 1930s setting. Walk part of the coastal path while you are there, and in summer you’ll see clumps of sea thrift blooming on the hillside down to the sea.

The sisters head to Truro to buy their mysterious visitor a new suit. Filmmakers had to substitute a more unspoilt village for Truro, but stop in Truro anyway, so that you can have a pint at The Old Ale House and also visit Bosvigo , a private garden in town owned by Michael and Wendy Perry. Bosvigo not only has fine views from its site on a hill, but the garden design lures you on from room to room – always with a bench so that you can sit and enjoy your surroundings. Roses, hebes, hardy geraniums – all backed by fine broadleaf evergreens. Be sure to go in the small Victorian conservatory, too, where you’ll find all sorts of fuchsias and begonias that don’t grow outside even in Cornwall’s mild climate.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Yes, it’s true, you could do an entire lengthy tour that focuses only on the locations of HP movies. They are chock-full of scenes that show a glimpse here or a few seconds there of ancient sites and buildings around the UK – and most altered by computer graphics to be more suitable for the movies. Of all the many places used, my favorite is Lavenham, a Tudor village in East Anglia. The Guild Hall in the village center was used as a backdrop when Harry and Hermione visited Godric’s Hollow, where Harry was born.

Note: In the nearby town of Colchester, stop at The Beth Chatto Gardens for garden inspiration or just to have lunch or tea in the shop.

Inspector Lewis

Oxford stars in many movies and TV shows, and it’s easy to see why both the historic buildings and gorgeous landscape makes it a choice spot. Although many fans of Inspector Morse may look up and down the streets for a glimpse of him, more recently, viewers of “Inspector Lewis” might want to see a few familiar places.

The episode titled “The Dead of Winter” showcased what the story called Crevecoeur Hall, and is really Rousham House & Garden in Bicester, Oxfordshire. The grand estate was built in 1635 and landscaped by William Kent, the leader of what became known as the 18th-century landscape movement (the same style as Stourhead). Kent created some formal bits – the knot garden, for example, but also designed huge expanses with sweeping scenes all in an effort to make the homeowners feel as if they owned the world.

Note: No Oxford stop should be without a visit to the 380-year-old botanic gardens, the oldest in England. The walled garden showcases plants arranged by family – you’ll be surprised to see which of your common garden plants are related.

Midsomer Murders

The English countryside is the perfect place for a murder mystery, as evidenced by this long-running series where pubs, gardens and the countryside are definitely the stars. There seems to be a dead body at every turn (it’s slightly tongue-in-cheek, so don’t be be put off). Among the many locations during the series, you’ll see Lyde Garden in Bledlow, Waddesdon Manor near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, and the Crown Inn’s garden in Little Missenden.

Written by Marty Wingate for EuropeUpClose.com

Marty enjoys the public and private gardens of England, Ireland and Scotland, and often shows them off to travelers. She particularly likes to sit over a cup of tea – or pint of real ale – and hear stories from the gardeners themselves. Some of those stories can be found on her blog martywingate.com.

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  1. EA says

    I recently visited West Wycombe House and gardens. They were filming an episode of Endeavour there and many films have also been filmed there in the past – including the opening sequence of Labyrinth (the park with the small bridges that Sarah rehearses her play in). It’s a beautiful place – would highly recommend a visit.

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