If you’re a huge Potter fan, then pay a visit to beautiful Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. This stunning, medieval castle featured as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the first two movies. Scenes filmed at the castle include Harry’s first Quidditch lesson and the crash-landing of the flying Ford Anglia after Ron and Harry have ‘borrowed’ it.
Whilst you’re visiting the castle you can take part in your very own 20 minute broomstick training session (see the photograph, taken from their website, above). Join Alnwick’s resident wizarding professors and learn how to fly a broomstick on the very spot where Harry had his first lesson. The sessions are free and the really good news is that they are open to adults so hop on and get a photograph of yourself taking off!
The castle also starred in the Downton Abbey Christmas special and until the beginning of November 2015 you can join a tour of its cinematic locations. With entertaining, behind-the-scenes filming anecdotes from a costumed guide this is a must for film and television buffs.
If you’re in London then try to fit in a visit to historic Royal Naval College at Greenwich. There’s free entry to the magnificent Painted Hall, where the ceiling and walls are covered in glowing, fabulously detailed paintings depicting British maritime history by James Thornhill (as shown in the photo above, taken from their website). Originally designed as a dining hall for the naval veterans who lived at the Royal Hospital for Seamen, and still used for sumptuous banquets, it featured in Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides.
They also filmed the famous barricade scenes for Tom Hooper’s 2012 film, Les Miserables, starring Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe at the College. It’s a marvellous, evocative setting which is steeped in history and well worth a visit.
Another Tom Hooper film with some memorable locations is The King’s Speech starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and our very own volunteer reader, Derek Jacobi. Ely Cathedral in East Anglia was chosen to stand in for Westminster Abbey – a huge set with rows of tiered seating clad in ornately coloured fabric was constructed to replicate the original Coronation scene. It’s the setting for a pivotal moment in the film as George VI practices his all-important Coronation speech with his therapist Lionel Logue and faces his deepest fears. It has also been used for filming Elizabeth: The Golden Age starring Cate Blanchett (photo above taken from Ely Cathedral website) and The Other Boleyn Girl.