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With political rivalries and (not so) regal romps set in the world’s most famous addresses, The Crown is among the brightest gems in the Netflix tiara. Thought you had to be a Windsor to visit the hit series’ fantastical locations? You’re royally mistaken. Here are 12 of the best to scout out.
Whether the birth of Archie Mountbatten-Windsor made you feel as British as a bulldog in a bowler hat, or you’re a drama queen itching to see Olivia Colman assume the throne, there are few of us who haven’t fallen head over glass slipper for The Crown.
Yet if you thought the Netflix series was really filmed inside Buckingham Palace, think again. We’ve got the lowdown on the fairy-tale castles, opulent homes and haunting ruins featured so far. Best of all, you don’t even have to be on the Honours List to visit. Yes ma’am.
Lancaster House, Westminster
Among the stately homes used to imitate Buckingham Palace, Pall Mall’s palatial Lancaster House took on most State Room scenes. It was the 18th-century home of the Duke of York (yes, the Grand Old one) and once the epicentre of high society. Today it’s owned by the Foreign Office. Recognise it? Lancaster House has featured in other regal films such as The King’s Speech. There’s no regular public access, but it’s possible to book a tour.
Woodchester Mansion, Nympsfield, Gloucestershire
The facade of this gothic revival mansion was cast as Gordonstoun, the Scottish public school where the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince of Wales were educated (and which Charles famously hated). Filming couldn’t take place inside, however, as construction was abandoned in the mid-19th century when owner William Leigh ran out of cash. Hauntingly majestic, Woodchester Mansion is open to the public between April and November.
Eltham Palace, Eltham
While this South London house dates back to the 13th century, much of it was built in the 30s – its art-deco curved furniture and veneered surfaces made it the ideal stand-in for Bermuda’s Government House and the Queen’s quarters in Royal Yacht Britannia. Elizabeth’s meeting with fashion designer Norman Hartnell was filmed in the Scandi-style, glass-domed entrance hall. Check the English Heritage website for opening times.
Ardverikie Estate, Inverness-shire, Scotland
Two hours’ drive from the real Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, this grand 19th-century hunting lodge doubles as the Queen’s favourite Scottish retreat. You may recognise Ardverikie’s stone towers from the 1997 film Mrs Brown (though the real Queen Victoria beat Dame Judi to the estate when she stayed here in 1847). Spend the night in one of the on-site cottages and enjoy castle tours and wildlife activities.
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
With the aid of a specially constructed portico, the Old Royal Naval College was a dupe for Buckingham Palace’s courtyard. The location has a colourful history: Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I were born at Greenwich Palace (its original incarnation), Anne Boleyn was arrested here and Shakespeare performed. Visit today and the (recently restored) buildings you see were designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the 18th century as a hospital for naval veterans. Open daily.
Goldsmiths’ Hall, Central London
Remember King George’s operation in that makeshift theatre at Buckingham Palace? It was shot near St Paul’s Cathedral in the Grade I-listed Goldsmiths’ Hall (extras included real surgeons from Guys Hospital). Despite devastation by bombing in 1941, the hall has served as headquarters for one of London’s Great Twelve Livery Companies since the early 14th century. Open days are held throughout the year.
Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
This 19th-century neo-renaissance manor was the site of Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s raucous Saturday-to-Monday house parties. Thankfully, since the manor was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1957, you no longer have to be a blue blood to visit. While its magnificent facade echoed Buckingham Palace in The Crown, Waddesdon also backdropped the less salubrious 1966 Carry On Don’t Lose Your Head film set during the French Revolution.
Shoreham Airport, Lancing, West Sussex
Founded in 1910, this art-deco airport is the UK’s oldest of its kind. It backdropped several scenes in The Crown, including when the newly appointed Queen arrives back from South Africa in the wake of her father’s death. The terminal is now part of Brighton City Airport, so you’ll likely visit only if you’re attending flying school or own a light aircraft. How very regal.
Slains Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Slains Castle appeared as the Castle of Mey, a Caithness property bought by the Queen Mother in 1952 and used as her holiday home for the next half century. The castle’s ruined state meant it only afforded exterior shots. Dramatically perched on a cliff overlooking the North Sea, it was once ruled by the powerful Clan Hay and is said to have inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Walk from the nearby village of Cruden Bay for frightfully spiffing vistas.
Wrotham Park, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire
Her Majesty’s audiences with the PMs were shot at this neo-palladian estate. Surrounded by 300 acres, the secluded Wrotham Park hasn’t changed much since it was designed in 1754 – it remains in the care of the same Byng family for whom it was constructed. While it isn’t open to the public, those with deep pockets can hire the house for events; Cheryl and Ashley Cole had their wedding blessed here in 2006 and Simon Cowell held his £1million 50th birthday bash on the grounds three years later.
Ely Cathedral, Ely, Cambridgeshire
Ely Cathedral stands in for Westminster Abbey where the Queen is married, crowned and subject to Philip’s brutal line: “Are you my Queen or my wife?” Though the Anglican temple dates back to 1083, when there was a spate of building following the Norman Conquest, its origins can be traced to 627 when St Ethelreda built an Anglo-Saxon abbey on the site. The cathedral is open to visitors daily – climb the Octagon Tower, a marvel of the medieval world.
Outside Blighty, this is The Crown’s go-to foreign location. In Season 1 it served as Kenya during the then Princess’s Commonwealth tour, and in Season 2 it set the scene for Philip’s world tour: Melbourne was shot in Cape Town, the Keurbooms River covered for the Amazon, and Hermanus was Bermuda. In fact, Antarctica was the Duke of Edinburgh’s only pitstop not filmed in South Africa – that was shot in a quarry near London.
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