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Wiltshire on the big screen

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Film locations in Wiltshire

Wiltshire is well-known for its verdant landscape and historic landmarks, but something visitors may not be aware of is the fact the county is a favourite with filmmakers.

From Jane Austin classics and popular television programmes to daring adventures and Hollywood blockbusters, Wiltshire continues to welcome production crews for a range of screen hits.

Those staying in Wiltshire holiday cottages this summer can follow in the footsteps of television stars and film royalty by visiting the following attractions, which have all been featured in either a film or a programme on TV.

Old Wardour Castle

Old Wardour Castle

Although Old Wardour Castle isn’t Wiltshire’s most popular filming location, the castle has famously starred as Locksley Castle in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. In one iconic scene the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, played by the late Alan Rickman, tells Robin’s father, Lord Locksley, “JOIN US, or die”.

The castle itself is set in the peaceful Wiltshire countryside beside a lake near Tisbury. It was once one of the most daring and innovatively-designed homes in Britain.

Built in the 14th century as a lightly fortified luxury residence for comfortable living and lavish entertainment, the castle ruin today provides a relaxed, romantic day out for couples, families and budding historians alike.

Visitors can go on an audio tour and learn about Old Wardour’s eventful past and the fighting it saw during the Civil War. The badly damaged castle became a fashionable romantic ruin, and in the 18th century was incorporated into the landscaped grounds of the New Wardour House.

The castle and its rooms are great to explore, and climbing the circular stairs to the top allows visitors to see for miles, across the lake and surrounding countryside.

Stourhead Gardens

Stourhead Gardens

The Stourhead Estate and Gardens is quite simply breath-taking and it is therefore unsurprising that this 18th century landscaped garden is not only one of the most popular attractions in the county, but is a hotspot for film crews.

The gardens were featured in the 2005 production of Pride and Prejudice. The Temple of Apollo, which is set above the tranquil lake, was the location for Mr Darcy’s first and futile proposal to Lizzie.

After rejecting Mr Darcy, an offended Lizzie is filmed making her exit across the Palladian Bridge in the gardens.

If you decide to head to these spectacular gardens, there are plenty of lakeside walks, grottoes and classical temples to enjoy, while Stourhead House boasts a fantastic regency library and a great art collection.

By climbing the 205 steps to the top of King Alfred's Tower, a red-brick folly, visitors can enjoy great views over Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Great Chalfield Manor and Gardens

Great Chalfield Manor

This restored manor house has featured in a few notable film and TV productions over the years.

Great Chalfield Manor and Gardens featured in the film The Other Boleyn Girl which tells a tale of intrigue, romance and betrayal starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson and Eric Bana.

The manor was also used in the filming of Wolf Hall, a television series which follows the story of Thomas Cromwell who becomes advisor to King Henry VIII, a role fraught with danger. The 2015 BBC series starred Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis and Claire Foy.

The popular BBC series Poldark has also been filmed at Great Chalfield Manor. The Great Hall was used in a party scene and the gardens were also used for some scenes during season two of the series.

The gardens of the manor house are a real sight to behold with the luscious borders, roses and countless other plants combining to make it a beautiful garden to explore. There is a milk pond and a lower moat in the grounds, with the manor itself set between farm buildings and stables to the west, with milk cottages to the east.

Visitors can explore the medieval manor through guided tours, which take place from Tuesday to Thursday, and see this great house in all its splendour. You can also stroll through the romantic Arts and Crafts garden via the tours.

Lacock Village

Lacock Village

This beautifully-preserved village dates back to the 15th century and its cottages and inns have, for a long time, been much admired by film makers.

It played the village of Meryton in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice and it was here that the Bennet girls, in particular Lydia and Kitty, shopped for bonnets, sought the latest tittle-tattle from their Aunt Philips, and hoped to attract the attention of the officers.

It has also been used as the backdrop for television series Cranford, Wolf Hall, Dr Thorne and The White Princess. Hollywood blockbusters such as Harry Potter and The Other Boleyn Girl have also been filmed in this iconic village.

Harry Potter fans can see Potter’s house and a church that were shown briefly in the Philosopher’s Stone, along with Slughorn's temporary home of Budleigh Babberton in Half-Blood Prince in the village. Another great family attraction that has links to Harry Potter is Lacock Abbey, which was used for several Hogwarts’ interior scenes, including the Mirror of Erised scenes, and Professors Snape and Quirrell's classrooms.

Longleat

Longleat

Longleat is a land of adventure where visitors can see lions roam, tigers stalk and monkeys swing as well as travel through time in a grand stately home.

Longleat is certainly one of Wiltshire’s must-visit attractions and unsurprisingly it has been used for a number of film productions, including a Bollywood production called Mohabbatein.

The BBC’s Animal Park was a series presented by Kate Humble and Ben Fogle that ran from 2000-2009 and explored life behind the scenes at Longleat Estate and Safari Park. Fans of the original series were delighted to hear that a revived version began filming in August 2016.

The famous old house has also been featured in The Four Seasons, a series based on Rosamunde Pilcher's best-selling novels The Shell Seekers and Coming Home.

If you decide to visit Longleat, then you just have to visit the safari park to see all the different animals that for years have featured in Animal Park. After driving through the safari park, you can go on a boat ride on the lake or take a tour of the famous old house.

Castle Combe

Castle Combe is often voted the “prettiest village in England” and it is certainly worth a visit for holidaymakers staying nearby in luxury cottages in Wiltshire.

This quintessential English village is located in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in north-west Wiltshire and is featured regularly as a film location.

The original Doctor Dolittle was filmed in the village in 1966 and this clearly started a trend, as since it has played a major role in the 2007 film Stardust, The Wolf Man and Steven Spielberg’s directorial triumph, War Horse.

The village’s honey-coloured Cotswold stone is typical for this area and its 14th century market cross and St Andrew’s Church are among the village’s top attractions. The church even has a faceless clock that is believed to be one of the oldest working clocks in the UK.

One of the best ways to see the village is to just wander around, but Doctor Dolittle fans can head to the main street to see the house that was used as the doctor’s and Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, which was transformed into a seafront.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Stonehenge is one of the most well-known landmarks in the world and, as you would expect for such a significant archaeological artefact, this iconic location has been featured in a number of screen productions.

The BBC series of Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Doctor Who have both been filmed at Stonehenge, as has the movie Thor, starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman.

Stonehenge must be the only place in the world where you can follow in the footsteps of your favourite superhero and Neolithic ancestors. This prehistoric monument can be explored on foot and now visitors can even step inside Neolithic houses to discover the tools and objects that were once used in everyday life. The exhibition and visitor centre on site has around 250 ancient objects on display, including a 5,500-year-old man.

Image Credits: English Heritage, Visit Wiltshire, Neosnaps, Ben Salter.