England is full of striking historic places, from imposing castles and prehistoric monuments, to elegant stately homes. They all have their own stories to tell, but sometimes it’s not just tales of historic events. Many of the sites in our care also double as fictional locations or star as themselves in TV and films – from the Antiques Roadshow to Hollywood blockbusters.
Here are five of our favourite examples of spotting our places on screen. All these sites are open to the public and ready to be explored*.
You can find out more about our filming and TV locations – including more past productions – here.
(*unless, of course, they’re preparing for their next starring role!)
1. Taboo at Tilbury Fort
Tilbury Fort is an artillery fort, first built by Henry VIII which has protected London’s seaward approach from the 16th century through to the Second World War.
It recently doubled-up as the historic streets of Wapping for BBC One’s mini-series Taboo, starring Academy Award nominee Tom Hardy. The TV drama was filmed was over three months, transforming the site into the East India Company’s docks, where Tom Hardy’s character starts to build his empire.
2. The Crown at Eltham Palace
In 1933, Stephen and Virginia Courtauld took a neglected medieval palace that had been home to several English kings, and began to transform it into an Art Deco mansion that would become Eltham Palace. This masterpiece in 20th century design was partly inspired by the fashionable cruise liners of the day, which is probably why it was used to portray Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Yacht in the Netflix series The Crown.
3. Avengers Age of Ultron at Dover Castle
You might not expect a troupe of A-list Hollywood actors to descend on Dover in Kent, but in 2014 that’s exactly what happened for the filming of Marvel blockbuster Avengers Age of Ultron.
The production crew took over areas of Dover Castle, and temporarily dressed them for several scenes in the film. You can spot the Secret Wartime Tunnels in the opening action sequence, as the cast of superheroes raid an outpost commanded by a malevolent scientist.
4. Batman vs Superman at Sutton Scarsdale Hall
How did the Georgian mansion of Sutton Scarsdale Hall appear in the 2016s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice without a single film camera visiting the site in Derbyshire? Hint: it involves high-tech wizardry.
The entire site was scanned with a laser which captured 50,000 points of detail per second, building a 3D recreation of the building. The Visual Effects crew then incorporated 2D photographs from the site to form the texture of the building, and voilà – Sutton Scarsdale Hall becomes the burned out shell of Wayne Manor.
5. Doctor Who at Stonehenge
This one goes back a few years to 2010, but we really enjoyed the episode so…
There are lots of theories about why our Neolithic ancestors built Stonehenge, but according to the BBC TV series Doctor Who, this ancient monument is in fact the hiding place of the Pandorica – a device designed to trap the Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith.
We’re pretty sure that the universe’s ultimate prison (with its deadlocks, time stops, matter lines and restoration field) isn’t one of the many mysteries that Stonehenge still holds for archaeologists, but it certainly did put a smile on our faces.
Have we missed your favourite?
There are plenty more examples of our sites appearing on TV and in films. If we’ve missed your favourite off this list, let us know what it is in the comments below.