Ever wanted to be in the movies, but can’t be bothered hanging around on set all day as an extra? Try visiting these National Trust properties for the next best thing. (If you’re lucky you might just walk into the back of shot.)
1. Ashridge Forest, Hertfordshire
Films: Into the Woods, Maleficent, Les Misérables, Sleepy Hollow and the Harry Potter series.
Let’s start with the awards season. Meryl Streep was nominated for a best actress in supporting role Oscar in Disney’s musical Into The Woods. But the Trust will no doubt be more proud of its nomination for Production Design.
Some CGI trickery has transformed the forest into the home of some of the Brothers Grimm’s most famous fairytale characters.
2. Petworth House and Park, West Sussex
Films: Mr Turner.
Mike Leigh’s award-winning film, Mr Turner explores the last quarter century of landscape painter, JMW Turner. Leigh filmed for just over a week at Petworth House, which was the seat of one of Turner’s greatest patrons – the third Earl of Egremont, played by Patrick Godfrey in the film.
Turner famously had the run of the house when he visited, and annexed the enormous library as his art studio, which is vividly brought back to life in the film.
3. Osterley, London
Films: The Dark Knight Rises, Burke & Hare, Gulliver’s Travels, The Young Victoria, Edge of Love and Miss Potter.
Chosen for its large rooms and grand interiors, the production crew working on The Dark Knight Rises spent two months “dressing” Osterley as Wayne Manor, before the cast, including Christian Bale, Michael Caine and the rest of the crew, arrived for a week of filming.
Wayne Manor was burnt down in an earlier film so director Christopher Nolan was looking for a stunning period setting to act as the new Wayne Manor. Key scenes are filmed in the 130-foot Long Gallery, the entrance hall, the grand staircase and the breakfast room.
But perhaps the most exciting location he picked was the library where, hidden behind a door in a bookcase, lies Osterley’s real secret passage, which became the entrance to Batman’s infamous bat cave.
4. Knole, Kent
Films: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Other Boleyn Girl.
The cast and crew from Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows came to Knole, transforming the stone court into the courtyard of a Swiss castle for the arrival of Professor Moriarty, arch-enemy of Conan Doyle’s famous detective.
Meanwhile in 2008, it took centre stage for the adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s bestselling novel, The Other Boleyn Girl, the story of the Boleyn sisters, Anne and Mary, as they competed for love of King Henry VIII. In reality, Knole has a link to King Henry himself. He was so impressed by its beauty that in 1538 he asked Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to hand the property over to him.
5. Antony House, Cornwall
Films: Alice in Wonderland.
There’s no surprise Tim Burton was drawn to this house in Cornwall. The house’s mixture of the formal and informal perfectly suits Lewis Carroll’s surreal story.
Filming took place over nine days back in September 2008, transforming the grounds and creating a “mini village” of catering trucks and hair and make-up tents.
6. Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire
Films: The Other Boleyn Girl, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
The abbey at the heart of Lacock Village has experienced its fair share of the limelight. Founded in 1232 and converted into a country house in the 1540s, the atmospheric monastic rooms include medieval cloisters, a sacristy and chapter house.
The abbey’s cloisters and side rooms doubled as magical Hogwarts classrooms in three Harry Potter flicks, while the village was also a backdrop for outdoor scenes with Harry and Dumbledore. The abbey was also used as the beautiful chambers of Catherine of Aragon for the filming of The Other Boleyn Girl.
7. Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire
Films: Robin Hood, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Since the dawn of cinema, filmmakers have long been dragging their cameras, cast and crew across Wales hoping to wow their audiences with the country’s stunning landscape.
This beach is known as one of the finest surf beaches in Wales, made famous as the location for the dramatic (if a little far-fetched) battle scene at the end of Robin Hood. The vast battle scene was choreographed and shot over many days, although the missing cliffs were added later using computer magic.
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Freshwater West was also the filming location for the beach scenes with Dobby and home to Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour‘s Shell Cottage.
8. Ham House, Surrey
Films: Anna Karenina, John Carter, Never Let Me Go, The Young Victoria.
In Anna Karenina (like much of the rest of London in real life) Ham House in Richmond-upon-Thames was transformed into grand Russian apartments.
The Long Gallery on the first floor of the house with its opulent Baroque decor, fine oil paintings and parquet floor meant it was picture-perfect to play the role of Vronsky’s grand but empty apartments in nineteenth century St Petersburg.
Situated within the M25, Ham is regarded as one of the best-kept secrets in the British film industry, with location managers appreciating its versatility and directors seduced by its good looks.
9. Marloes Sands, Pembrokeshire
Films: Snow White and the Huntsman.
Another Welsh beach location that looks great on the silver screen is Marloes Sands. The rugged cliff face lent itself perfectly to the setting of the imposing castle in the twisted adaptation of the classic Snow White fairytale.
Unusually for Wales, however, there is no imposing castle here. The dystopian Disney-esque edifice was added later with CGI.