Kent on screen
17th March 2020
While it may not have been a time for new releases or the typical big screen award shows recently, this has given us a chance to relive some of our old favourites and some new TV shows, with a number being shot in none other than Kent. A magnet for film crews for years, our county's gorgeous castles, villages, sea and sky have had starring roles in numerous box office hits. So in recognition of our lovely county's star quality, we've pulled together a list of our favourite filming locations in the Garden of England so no matter where you are in the world, you can see the glory of Kent from the comfort of your home...
Junior Bake Off
We all delved into a bit of baking when lockdown hit and if the bug has stuck with you may have watched the pros or celebrities try their hand at it on the Bake Off. This time around however, it was time to let the youngsters have a go with the Junior Bake Off, which was filmed at the historic manor house of Cobham Hall. Hosted by Harry Hill, 2021's series was aired in January and ran for 15 episodes.
Yes, scenes from everyone's favourite Netflix romance were filmed in none other than the Historic Dockyard Chatham! The Bridgerton family may appear to be at home in high society London, but their search for love and happiness took place at our very own dockyard. Look out for the dockyard at the Duke of Hastings' boxing saloon, Will and Alice's apartment, and even the scene when Lady Featherington and Marina pay the slums a visit.
Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet plays paleontologist Mary Anning, who has a day to day life of selling fossils to tourists, which then changes as Anning accepts an opportunity to care for a lady, played by Golden Globe Award winner Saoirse Ronan. While much of the film was shot in Dorset, you can also spy scenes in Charing and the Historic Dockyard Chatham, owing to its unique setting.
While it may not be hard to guess where the next one is based, you might wonder if Whitstable Pearl was actually shot in the East Kent town. Starring Kerry Godliman, the producers kept it authentic and shot nearly all of the TV series in the town, with the harbour, the high street and The Old Neptune having starring roles throughout.
Only Fools and Horses
Still a household name across Britain is Only Fools and Horses, and the 1989 Christmas special was one of the classics. A day out to Margate in the Isle of Thanet played host to The Jolly Boys' Outing with scenes including a walk along the front, time in the sea, fish and chips and of course Dreamland. Make sure to spot Scenic Railway on screen, still going today!
This biographical film of the 19th century artist saw Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Strange) and Claire Foy (The Crown) spend four weeks in Deal filming, primarily on the beach in Walmer, with the film due to be released in 2020. However, it's not just Benedict who has been to Deal, with The Tunnel and Liar being shot in the idyllic seaside town.
The Old Guard
Sandwich may well have its own French festival, but never before has the small town been so much like a ville de France, than when the crew for The Old Guard came to town. Starring Charlize Theron and Chiwetel Ejiofor, the made for Netflix film is based on the comic and is about a captain and his soldiers working as mercenaries through the ages.
2017's DC film made good use of the little Swale village of Lower Halstow with it being the landing place of Hollywood superstars Chris Pine and Gal Gadot on their hunt for Ares, as it was turned into Belgium during WWI. One of Kent's sailing barges Edith May was used as the Green Room for the film's stars and features briefly in the epic itself. When it finally gets to the height of summer, we'd recommend recreating your own landing where you can not only visit the barge, but head out on a sailing trip too!
The Lady in the Van
With its typical British seaside town streets and beach front, Broadstairs and its surrounding area is often the location for a coastal day out for British films and TV shows. Ricky Gervais' Derek came on a group beach day out, Maggie Smith's Lady In The Van spent two days along Viking Bay while eating Morelli's gelato, and Hollywood romantic comedy Juliet, Naked filmed throughout the Isle of Thanet for a lot of its exterior shots - you can see Broadstairs everywhere! Thanet Hollywood
Depicting the story and life of Mary Stuart and her impact on England's history as she attempted to overthrow her cousin Queen Elizabeth I, it's only fitting that filming for this historical drama took place at one of Kent's best preserved manor houses, Penshurst Place. As the backdrop for Mary's execution the house has a solemn role in the film, but the gorgeous Elizabethan gardens has a rich history and looks dazzling on a summer day - it's far more cheerful off screen!
2018 was Gary Oldman’s year, after scooping the Best Actor Oscar for his powerhouse performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Perhaps it’s no surprise that key scenes from the film were shot at Churchill’s former home, Chartwell, in rural Kent.
While the action for Christopher Nolan’s heart-stopping depiction of the infamous evacuation was shot on location in France, Kent is home to the very place where Operation Dynamo was masterminded in the Secret Wartime Tunnels beneath Dover Castle. However you'll actually be able to spot Dover Castle in another blockbuster, and a Marvel one at that - Avengers: Age of Ultron was partially filmed here!
The Princess Bride
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love this film? Pirates, giants, miracles, monsters, true love! And did you know that Inigo and Count Rugen’s final duel – and possibly one of the most famous lines in cinema history – was filmed in the Baron’s Hall of gorgeous Penshurst Place? Say it with us… “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die".
When it comes to tales about the Tudors, Kent is the go to location for big and small screen adaptations. Leeds Castle, Penshurst Place and Dover Castle have all had starring roles in the likes of The Other Boleyn Girl and the much-lauded miniseries Wolf Hall. Even the last of the Plantagenets, Richard III, came to Kent for The Hollow Crown series in 2016 (and we heard that venue staff were very keen to work on the day dreamboat Benedict Cumberbatch was filming scenes...)
Since the landscape provided inspiration for Charles Dickens himself, the misty, mysterious marshes across Swale were obvious location choices for key scenes in the 2012 big screen adaptation of this classic novel.
The Name’s Bond…
Ian Fleming reportedly took James Bond’s famous 007 tag from the number of the London to Dover coach, and lived for some time in the coastal hidden gem St Margaret's Bay (pictured). In a nod to the super spy’s creator, many Bond films have been shot on Kent’s shores - Sir Hugo Drax’s Moonraker plant was filmed at Kingsdown, the Port of Dover appeared in Diamonds are Forever, and the speedboat chase in The World Is Not Enough was partially shot at The Historic Dockyard Chatham.
Call the Midwife
Speaking of the Dockyard, the immense visitor attraction has been welcoming film crews and stars to its historic buildings and cobbled alleyways for decades. Victoria and Abdul, Les Miserables, Suffragette, Victor Frankenstein, Mr Holmes and 2019's Pokémon: Detective Pikachu are just a few of the flicks to have featured the Dockyard but perhaps most famous is the hit TV series Call The Midwife, which has made the attraction its home!
Pride and Prejudice
Groombridge Place provided a beautiful backdrop for the lavish 2005 film adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel, as the 17th-century moated manor was chosen to be Longbourn, the Bennet’s family home. There's nothing better than a bit of Austen escapism, and we love to see Lizzy Bennet running through our Kent countryside - although when we go, we think we'll leave the gowns, bonnets and parasols at home.