Britain’s beautiful countryside, stately homes and picturesque villages have been the backdrops for outstanding film and TV productions for years. Not only that, they can be great places to visit on your caravan holidays, as we’ve discovered.
Do you go potty for Potter? Filming for the Harry Potter movies used several iconic locations, such as Leadenhall Market, which featured as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron. Hogwarts itself was an amalgamation of Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, the Bodleian Library in Oxford and Durham Cathedral, plus a lot of green-screening.
Want more Harry Potter? Visit Scotland. Head to Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands for the site of Hagrid’s house, which unfortunately is no longer there. However, the rugged hillside is beautiful and there’s a great inn down the road.
If you fancy something a bit more regal, the 2006 film The Queen starring Helen Mirren was filmed across many locations, including Culzean Castle, Castle Fraser, Balmoral and the Glenfeshie Estate, all of which are picturesque places to visit on your caravan holidays in Scotland. Need somewhere to pitch your caravan? Be sure to check out our Top 100 Sites Guide 2014.
On a similar theme, Channel 4 produced its own dramatisation entitled The Queen in 2009, using locations in and around Bath, including a flat in the Royal Crescent, plus the Longleat estate in Wiltshire and Orchardleigh House near Frome.
Other films with royal themes have included The King’s Speech (2010), some of which was filmed at Halton House in Buckinghamshire. The coronation scene in The Young Victoria (2009) was shot in Lincoln Cathedral, which doubled as Westminster Abbey in 2006’s The Da Vinci Code. Meanwhile, Knole in Kent helped recreate Tudor times for The Other Boleyn Girl (2008).
In fact, if period dramas are your cup of tea, you’ll find these are packed full of inspiration for caravan holidays to keep you going for years. There are so many that we can’t possibly list them all, but here are some must-see locations for fans of period dramas. Pride and Prejudice’s many incarnations took in grand houses, such as Chatsworth in the Peak District, Lyme Park in Cheshire and Basildon Park in Berkshire, as well as the town of Stamford and the rolling hills of Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Kent.
In fact, Basildon Park was also where the Christmas special of Downton Abbey (2010) was shot, as well as at Highclere Castle on the Hampshire/Berkshire border and Horsted Keynes station on the Bluebell steam railway in East Sussex. BBC One’s Lark Rise to Candleford (2008-2011) was mostly filmed in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. Be sure to visit Great Chalfield Manor and Garden and Neston Park.
We’ve already mentioned Bath and if you’re into TV and films, it makes a great place to visit on your caravan holidays – plus there are a lot of campsites nearby. Many films and TV shows have used Bath’s iconic locations and the charming countryside around the city. Great Pulteney Street stands in as many an imposing thoroughfare, for example in The Duchess in 2007 and Vanity Fair in 2004, plus Pulteney Bridge and Weir were central in the storyline of Les Misérables (2013). The 2006 TV movie of Dracula, starring David Suchet, was filmed at Abbey Green and nearby North Parade, which you may also recognise from Persuasion (1994) and A Respectable Trade (1997).
Oxford has hosted many film crews in addition to those involved with filming the Harry Potter series. The Bodleian Library has been the backdrop for Inspector Morse (1987-2000), Lewis (2007-), Midsomer Murders (1997-) and other TV series, with many memorable buildings, such as the Holywell Music Room, taking starring roles. You’ll also recognise Didcot Railway Centre, where Inspector Morse and Anna Karenina (2012) were filmed. Nearby Broughton Castle was used in Shakespeare in Love (1998).
Other films shot partly in and around Oxford include The History Boys (2006), The Golden Compass (2007), X Men: First Class (2011), the 2010 version of Alice in Wonderland, Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Howard’s End (1992). To find little-known locations, you can take a guided walking tour around the city centre, book a Midsomer Murders tour, which takes in Oxfordshire’s pretty villages and market towns, or visit the Location Oxfordshire website for trails that you can follow at your own pace. Bridge Villa campsite is only about 15 miles south of Oxford and there are lots of other sites in the region.
What else can we recommend for your TV and film location based caravan holidays? The Railway Children, which is essential viewing, was set in and around the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway – and Oakworth Station became one of its most iconic locations. Visit the well-maintained station to learn about the movie and to ride the railway. It has also been used as a location for Sherlock Holmes, Last of the Summer Wine, Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em, Poirot and many others.
Waddesdon Manor is a stunning late 19th-century château-style country house set amid lovely grounds in Buckinghamshire. It has been used to film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011), Ladies in Lavender (2004), the James Bond feature Never Say Never Again (1983) and Don’t Lose Your Head, the 1966 entry in the ‘Carry On’ series. And just a few miles away is the village of Brill whose historic windmill was used in the TV movie Longitude (2000). There are lots of campsites nearby.
Caravan holidays in Wales have long been popular and groundbreaking 1960s cult TV series The Prisoner was filmed in the beautiful and quirky village of Portmeirion, North Wales. The playful architecture is entertaining. Why not pitch your van at Barcdy Touring Caravan & Camping Park or one of the other campsites in the area.
The Baroque architecture, 17th-century streets and grand interiors of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, have drawn a stream of film producers and directors. You may recognise it from scenes in Sherlock Holmes, Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Madness of King George, Sense and Sensibility, An Ideal Husband, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Shanghai Knights, Vanity Fair, The Queen, Dorian Gray, Gulliver’s Travels, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Iron Lady, Skyfall, Les Misérables, 1998’s feature film version of The Avengers and numerous other popular film releases. And if you think there are no campsites in London, you’d be wrong! Pitch up Abbey Wood Caravan Club Site.
Who doesn’t love Billy Elliot? Visit Easington in County Durham in North East England, which portrayed Billy’s hometown of ‘Everington’. The street with his house has been demolished, but the Miners’ Welfare Hall in nearby Dawdon is still standing and is worth a look. You won’t be short of campsites in County Durham, or head to Strawberry Hill Farm Camping and Caravanning Park
If stepping into Harry Potter’s world isn’t your thing, how about another Potter? Osterley Park and House appeared in Miss Potter, the 2007 biopic about Beatrix Potter. The film also featured stunning scenery in the Lake District, where Yew Tree Farm stood in for Beatrix’s home. It’s a beautiful region of Britain, popular for caravan holidays and definitely not short of campsites. In fact, many campsites in the Lake District feature in the North West England section of our Top 100 Sites Guide 2014, so you’ll be able to stay at some of the best campsites in the UK.
What else? How about a Tudor adventure? Kentwell Hall in Suffolk has been used in several films, notably the 1996 version of The Wind in the Willows featuring Steve Coogan and four members of the ‘Monty Python’ troupe, and the BBC drama The Woman in White. Explore the house and grounds, which is home to a rare-breeds farm and hosts events that bring Tudor and Victorian times to life. Pitch at Willowmere Caravan Park.
And finally. Yes, we’ve mentioned many country houses as we’ve scoured the UK for caravan holiday destinations inspired by the small and big screens, but which is the perfect country house? Well, of course, everyone has their favourites. But Tim Burton used Antony House in Cornwall as the ‘perfect country house’ for much of the filming for Alice in Wonderland. Explore the landscaped gardens, the Woodland Garden, the 18th-century mansion and the impressive portrait collections.
Phew! That’s quite a list and plenty to fill many caravan holidays to come. Happy touring and next time you spot somewhere on TV or in a film that you like the look of, why not head there on your next tour?
If period dramas are your cup of tea, you'll find these are packed full of inspiration for caravan holidays