The turkey has been devoured and the Christmas pud set alight, so now it’s time to settle down on the sofa (wrapped up like a pig in blanket) ticking off the hefty list of festive films in the Christmas TV Guide. But before you get too comfy, check out these flicks that were filmed in locations across England.
Ah, Love Actually; a story about the complex emotion of love in all its different forms, and a celebration of life in London. And with that comes a wealth of filming locations across the capital, from the 18th-century Grosvenor Chapel in Mayfair where Juliet and Peter exchange vows, to the pastel-coloured houses covered in trailing ivy on St Lukes Mews in Notting Hill. The latter is said to be one of the most photographed streets in the country, and is where Mark turns up on Juliet’s doorstep to silently declare his love for her.
And we can’t forget Somerset House. Used in several establishing shots, this art-gallery-come-exhibition-space-come-concert-venue is known for its prime position on the Strand. It’s one of the most romantic spots in the city over the winter thanks to its ice rink, while summertime sees its courtyard used as an outdoor cinema.
This light-hearted Christmas comedy about two schools battling it out to put on the best nativity show was wholly shot in director Debbie Isitt’s hometown of Coventry, in the West Midlands. Birthplace of the British motor industry, and largely rebuilt after Second World War bombings, this city has plenty of heritage on offer – from visits to the National Motorcycle Museum, to the wartime ruins of Coventry Cathedral. Some scenes also feature Martin Freeman on historical Spon Street, lined with an array of beautiful medieval and Tudor buildings which now house shops, cafés and museums.
When two unlucky-in-love women house swap for a few days, one (Iris) finds herself in sunny California, while the other (Amanda) gets cosy in the English countryside. The cute cottage Amanda stays in was temporarily built by the crew in the pretty village of Shere, Surrey. With lovely country walks, quaint shops, an art gallery and a handful of pubs – including The White Horse, built in 1425 – it’s the perfect weekend escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Cameron Diaz also spent time filming in nearby Godalming – the world’s first town to have electric street lights – with its historic high street and cobbled roads!
While we can’t really label Paddington a traditional Christmas film, it’s one that tends to be on the TV over the festive period. Following a young Peruvian bear with a passion for all things British, the film sees our marmalade-loving teddy arrive in England and make his way to Paddington Station in London. He’s such a hit that he’s now got his very own statue inside, as well as a dedicated picture-book bench that’s perfect for a photo or two. And if you fancy escaping the hustle and bustle of London for a few days, trains from Paddington station journey to towns and cities in the south west like Reading, Bath and Bristol.
Other locations include the Brown family’s Notting Hill home, which was actually filmed in a candy-coloured house in Primrose Hill (close to London Zoo and Camden Lock) and Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, which starred as the inner corridors of the Geographers Guild. The former home of King Henry VIII is also used for filming Netflix’s The Crown, and can be visited throughout the summer months.
Though this is a year-round favourite, Bridget Jones’s Diary does in fact have a couple of festive scenes – like when Bridget goes to her parent’s Cotswolds home for Christmas. This took place in Snowshill, Gloucestershire – and because the scenes were filmed in June, the whole village had to be covered in artificial snow. Surrounded by rolling hills, narrow lanes and fairy-tale limestone houses, this chocolate-box village is an Instagrammable paradise (especially during the summer months, when its lavender fields are in bloom).
The village is also home to the National Trust’s Snowshill Manor. Formerly owned by Sir Charles Wade, the house is chock-a-block with toys, instruments and even samurai armour, and during certain months of the year Wade’s ‘Wolf’s Cove’ model village is on display in the heart of the garden.
Believe it or not, this cartoon Christmas classic, about a young boy who builds and befriends a snowman, features locations across the southern coast of England as an homage to author Raymond Briggs’ Sussex home. Accompanied by the soothing sounds of ‘Walking in the Air’, the pair embark on an adventure, flying over the chalky-white hills of the South Downs that, in real life, extend for miles across England's south-eastern coastline.
Later on you see them glide over Brighton’s Palace Pier – famous for its family-friendly rides and amusements – and the distinctive Royal Pavilion. This opulent seaside palace, filled with dazzling regency-era grandeur and Asian allure, is truly a must-visit.