Inspiration for travel can come in so many different shapes and forms. Hearing stories from fellow travelers, photos of beautiful places, learning the history of faraway places, and looking through magazines. One way I’m inspired is by books I’ve read and TV series and movies I’ve watched. Visiting England and specifically the countryside had been on my list for a while- in large part because of my love of Jane Austen books and films. When planning the trip, my sister and I mapped out our must see houses and sights to visit. Here are a few to keep in mind if you’re visiting Europe soon and are interested in film inspired travel in England:
Jane Austen Sights
The first Jane Austen sight we visited was the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton. It’s open every day from 10:30am to 4:30pm and is the only house Jane lived in that is open to the public. It’s where she spent the last 8 years of her life – during the time period when Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma were published. In nearby Winchester, visit the beautiful Gothic cathedral founded in 1079 to see where she is buried.
Bath is a fantastic city to visit if you’re a Jane Austen fan since the author lived there, and two of her novels, Northanger Abbey (my favorite) and Persuasion, were set in this historic city. Go on a self-guided walking tour of the city to see the streets and buildings Jane writes about and be sure not to miss the Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths, the Circus (pictured here), and the Assembly Rooms. We actually skipped the Jane Austen Centre except for poking around the gift shop since we’d already visited the House Museum and wanted more time for our walk.
Great Houses of Pride & Prejudice
Next we started our tour of the great houses of England, including the Chatsworth House, used in film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice. The Chatsworth House is located in Derbyshire in the Peak District and was used as Pemberley in the 2005 movie. It is thought that Jane Austen based her idea of Pemberley on the Chatsworth House while writing the novel. Interestingly enough, the house is mentioned by name in the book as one of the estates Elizabeth Bennet visits before arriving at Pemberley.
Next we went to Haddon Hall in Peak District National Park. It was used in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice as the Inn at Lambton, in the 2011 version of Jane Eyre and Prince Humperdinck’s castle in The Princess Bride. The outside of the medieval manor house is stunning, but it was also fun to stroll through the interior and the gorgeous Elizabethan gardens set next to a picturesque river.
Our final Jane Austen film site was Lyme Park in the Peak District. It was used in the 1995 BBC film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and has amazing grounds to wander around. There’s a beautiful rose garden, and you can see the reflecting lake where Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy met Elizabeth Bennett. If you’re super fans like we are, you can also go for walk in the field to see the pond Darcy emerged from. When we were there it happened to be the 200th anniversary of the book’s publication, therefore to celebrate there was a giant Darcy in the lake!
We visited England at the height of the Downton Abbey series craze, so of course we had to make a stop at Highclere Castle. We arrived too late to tour the inside of the house, but walking around the grounds and gardens admiring the house was perfect. It was also lovely that we went to the little shop to buy a cup of tea to sip while admiring the beauty of the house! [Photo: Laura Brown]
No visit to England would be complete without seeing a couple of Harry Potter filming sites. King’s Cross Station in London is an easy place to pop over to while you’re out and about in the city for a nice photo op at Platform 9 and 3/4.
En route to Bath, you can also make a nice stop at the picturesque village of Castle Combe to visit National Trust property Lacock Abbey, used as a filming site in the first two and sixth Harry Potter films as Hogwarts. The Abbey’s side rooms and cloisters were used as classrooms and halls of the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It was also used as filming sites for movies and TV shows including the 1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice, Cranford, and Downtown Abbey.
Do you have any other sites to add in England or elsewhere? How have books, movies and TV shows inspired your travel? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!