If you’d paid a visit to Lacock Abbey last November, you may well have found Benedict Cumberbatch, Keeley Hawes or Hugh Bonneville declaiming in full regalia in the cloisters.
The 13th century abbey, which resides three miles from Chippenham in the picturesque village of Lacock in rural Wilshire, played several roles in the second cycle of The Hollow Crown – the BBC’s all-star adaptation of Shakespeare’s history plays about Henry VI and Richard III.
Tom Sturridge as Henry VI
The Cloister Walks and Chapter House doubled as the corridors and rooms of the Palace of Westminster. The Rear Dorter became the storeroom in which the Duke of Somerset (Ben Miles) finds Margaret of Anjou (Sophie Okonedo) hiding, while the Cloister Garth which was set up as a tennis court.
“The weather presented a few challenges to filming given that it was November, and some areas such as the Cloisters are exposed to the elements,” explains Sonia Jones, House and Collections manager at Lacock Abbey.
“We also had to think about how best to protect the space, particularly for the Tennis Court scene where the actors were having to whack a tennis ball around inside such a fragile environment. Luckily for the crew they didn’t need to bring in too many props, as the architecture of the Abbey provided most of the back drop they needed.”
Lacock village recently starred in Doctor Thorne
It’s not the first time Lacock Abbey has been a TV star. Wolf Hall, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The Other Boleyn Girl and the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice were also filmed here.
Lacock village – which is also owned by the National Trust – also pops up on the small and big screen regularly, most recently doubling as the market town of Barchester in Doctor Thorne. It’s also appeared in Downton Abbey, two Harry Potter films and Cranford.
As well as looking around the village and Lacock Abbey, you can visit the Fox Talbot museum, which chronicles the history of photography. It’s named after William Henry Fox Talbot, who lived at the abbey and created the first photographic negative in 1835.
Another National Trust estate, Ashridge on the Hertfordshire-Buckinghamshire border, also has several cameos in The Hollow Crown.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard III
Ashridge was founded as a monastery by Edmund of Cornwall, nephew of Henry III, in 1283 to house a holy relic. You won’t spy its hill fort, Iron Age farms, ancient monastic buildings or Capability Brown parkland, but look out for Ashridge Forest, which is famous for its bluebells.
The forest was used as a backdrop in several scenes, doubling up as a war camp and battlefield.
Countryfile Live package. Hosted in the spectacular grounds of Blenheim Palace, BBC Countryfile Live is a major, new live event, hosted by the show’s star presenters, that will allow visitors to explore every aspect of life in the British countryside. Don’t miss your chance to join us for Britain’s biggest day out in the country. Read more and book.
Call the Midwife tour package. Visit the outdoor filming locations used in ‘Call the Midwife’, and enjoy a guided tour of the Historic Dockyard, Chatham, from your very own ‘midwife’. You’ll also take a trip to the ancient city of Canterbury, a world-famous UNESCO Heritage Site that has been welcoming pilgrims and other visitors since 1170. Read more and book.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news