Road-tripping movie locations in north Wiltshire

A path outside Castle Combe
A path outside Castle Combe

There are filming locations across the UK and, on Thursday, I set out to see some of the ones that were closest to me. I chose Luckington, Castle Combe and Lacock for various reasons. I had never been to Castle Combe before, but had heard big things about it. It is supposed to be the ‘prettiest village in England’, and it is nice. Luckington and Lacock I have been to, but I also had a film fanatic with me, who I thought might appreciate them.

Luckington Court
Luckington Court, which was used as a location for the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice

Important checklist:

  • Directions – you have to know where you are going. At any point you may have to turn off a 60mph road with no signposts and no warning. Directions will spare the drivers’ nerves.
  • DVDs – Watch the films first so that you’ll recognise places and can say the appropriate catchphrases at the right times.
  • Research – Find out if the locations are actually visitable, how different they look IRL, and whether any other cool stuff happened in the same place. Luckington Court is a private house, and we totally missed the fact that the original ‘M’ is buried in the church graveyard.
The Wolfman also shot here
Castle Combe has removed all of its overhead telephone lines, but presumably the film companies have to sand the roads to obscure the double yellow lines.
Stardust House
We were pretty sure this was the Castle Combe house used in Stardust.

I can see where the ‘prettiest village in England’ thing comes from. It is a very idyllic place, and quite hard to get to at that. As such, it does a good job of representing everything wholesome and English. In films like ‘the Wolfman’ it is a place to protect, whereas in ‘Stardust’ it is a place to escape.  A young person like Tristan Thorne might appreciate the rolling countryside, but would feel stifled by the sheer lack of things to do.

Aspect of Castle Combe
We didn’t have a lot of time to look round Castle Combe, because we were trying to fit in all three locations. Not that it’s a particularly big place.

The last place we went to was Lacock. Over the last month or so I have been volunteering at Lacock Abbey on the National Trust’s ’50 Things to do Before You’re 11 3/4′ project. As a result, I bang on about the place quite a lot, post pictures of all the cats there (there are loads!) and generally get very enthusiastic about it. There have been a lot of films shot at Lacock Abbey, most recently the upcoming Wolf Hall movie.

Lacock Cloisters
The cloisters at Lacock Abbey. Not pictured; the sodding great cauldron used for Snape’s classroom, which physically cannot be moved.

After finishing this tour, I went to a party where I met a conservator whose job includes liaison with the film industry around the use of National Trust properties. In an age of greenscreen, it is a good thing that the film industry is willing to incur the hassle of filming in these historic locations. I, for one, appreciate their dedication.

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