We love a good period drama – from the gripping storylines to the beautiful costumes, there’s lots to fall in love with, and no more so than the stunning settings that bring the whole world to life. While Pemberley, Downton Abbey and Bridgerton House may be fictional, the houses which stood in for them on screen are definitely not – and they’re just as inspiring in real-life.  So why not visit the real-life houses behind your favorite British period dramas? To help you out, we’ve rounded up seven famous film locations not to be missed. See more wonderful places to visit on our lifestyle page.

1. Step into Bridgerton House – also known as Greenwich’s Regency House

The must-watch show of lockdown, Netflix’s Bridgerton found us all captivated by the delights of Regency London. While the streets of Bath were a double for London, the beautiful wisteria-clad mansion of Bridgeton House was in fact Greenwich’s Grade I-listed Ranger’s House.  Although the interiors were shot elsewhere, this Palladian-style Georgian home is worth a visit in its own right, as it is filled with over 700 works of world-class art amassed by Sir Julius Wernher.  Visit English Heritage (opens in new tab) for more details and to book.

2. Fall in love with the real-life Pemberley at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

A favorite of any period drama aficionado, the love story of Lizzy Bennet and Mr Darcy has captured hearts for centuries, both on the page and the screen. The 2005 film adaptation of Pride & Prejudice saw Chatsworth House taking the leading role as the iconic Pemberley.  Regularly voted as one of Britain’s favorite country houses, it is even mentioned by name in Austen’s novel – leading many to believe that Chatsworth was the original inspiration for the fictional house itself.  Visit the Chatsworth website (opens in new tab) to find out more and to book. 

An unsung star, the rugged Cornish landscape brought the world of Poldark to life for thousands of viewers. Propped on the cliffside with the tempestuous waves crashing against the rocks below, Botallack mine is definitely one of the most dramatic vistas.  Standing in for the Poldark family mines of Wheal Leisure, the buildings of Wheal Owles – nicknamed the Crowns – are also popular with hikers and photographers looking to enjoy the area’s unique character.  Find out how to get there and more information on the National Trust website (opens in new tab).

4. Visit Downton Abbey – at Highclere Castle in Berkshire 

One of the most famous homes on television, the turreted Highclere Castle is instantly recognisable as the real Downton Abbey. While many fictional houses on screen are a patchwork of locations, the ‘upstairs rooms’, gardens and façade of Downton are all at Highclere.  Find yourself transported to the majesty of the drawing room, then tour the hallways and bedrooms, where many of the show’s secrets became unstuck, as you explore this Grade I-listed country house.  For more details visit the Highclere Castle website (opens in new tab). 

5. Be inspired by the Secret Garden in Helmsley’s walled garden

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s heartwarming The Secret Garden returned to screens in 2020. The film’s eponymous garden was shot at five different locations, alongside a helping of CGI, to realise the idyllic world.  One of these locations was Helmsley’s Walled Garden, whose ivy-clad walls really evoked the magic and mystery of the fictional garden retreat. Be inspired by its impressive blooms and serene setting, and revel in nature’s beauty.  Visit Helmsley Walled Garden (opens in new tab) for more details and to book.

6. Visit Ardverikie in Balmoral to walk in the footsteps of The Crown’s cast

Another of Netflix’s celebrated programmes, The Crown is loved for its glitz, glamor and scandal. Despite being set during the 20th century, its featured historic properties are outstanding.  If you’ve been wondering ‘Where is the Balmoral Castle in The Crown?’, then wonder no more. The Crown’s Balmoral Castle is actually the expansive baronial shooting lodge of Ardverikie. Why not treat yourself to a royal getaway and stay the night in one of its enchanting holiday cottages?  Find out about visiting and booking on the Ardverikie website (opens in new tab).

7. From Bridgerton to Bridehead Revisited, Castle Howard is not to be missed

Castle Howard has played a key role in myriad period dramas. While more recently you may have seen it as Bridgerton’s Clyvedon Castle, the Baroque stately home is forever entwined with Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.  Starring as the grand house in both the 1981 TV series and 2008 movie, the house itself took over 100 years to complete from its symmetrical wings to its elaborate domed ceiling. It is a jewel of 18th-century architecture.  To find out more and to book visit the Castle Howard website (opens in new tab).  Subscribe to Period Living for more inspiration (opens in new tab) Period Living is the UK’s best-selling period homes magazine, and is also available in the US. A subscription provides you with all you need to know about caring for and improving a traditional house and garden in a classic English style.

British period drama locations every movie fan should visit   Homes   Gardens - 84