The Da Vinci Code and Downtown Abbey caused tourism booms in Britain—and these film and TV releases are bound to do the same. The best part? You can visit the sets now.
In the last few years, old family estates in the English countryside have been reveling in the Regency craze spurred by Downton Abbey. Scottish film producer Andrew MacDonald, who has filmed in England’s Mapperton House for his Far from the Madding Crowd, describes it best: “The hills, the trees, the field shape—nothing’s changed for hundreds of years,” he explains. “You catch a reality that you can’t recreate in a studio.”
Fortunately, many of these estates made famous by television dramas are open to the public. Intrigued? Book your ticket, pack your cravat, and tell John to bring around the barouche—these are the real-life sets of your favorite British TV shows and films.
Montacute House, Montacute, England
Built in 1601, this Somerset landmark serves as a stand-in for Henry VIII’s Greenwich Palace in the PBS Masterpiece mini-series. (Damian Lewis stars as the king, with Mark Rylance as his right hand, Thomas Cromwell.) Don’t miss the Long Gallery, which houses 60 Tudor and Elizabethan-era portraits of nobility.
Far from the Madding Crowd
Mapperton House, Mapperton, England
In the latest film version of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel, this Elizabethan-era residence acts as the Dorset estate of Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan). Visitors can see the croquet lawn and Italianate garden from March to November; the actual home, where the Earl and Countess of Sandwich reside, opens during the summer.
Hopetoun House & Estate, Hopetoun, Scotland
Imposing castles and emerald-green fields feature heavily in the lusty Starz series, which is based on the best-selling books by Diana Gabaldon. But one of the more lavish locations is this 18th-century Georgian manor home near Edinburgh. From April through September, you can tour the interior, walk the 160-acre grounds, and then buy local cheeses and pies at the on-site Farm Shop.
Chapel Porth Walk, Porthtowan, England
Cornwall’s rugged, northern coast is the backdrop of this new PBS Masterpiece series, chronicling soldier Ross Poldark’s return to England following the American Revolutionary War. To experience the show’s seaside landscapes, try the 3.5-mile Chapel Porth Walk, beginning in Porthtowan, which winds along red cliffs overlooking caves and windswept beaches. The show premieres June 21.