Hidden Treasures

Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven

Tom Howard - award-winning location scout

Since 2001, award-winning location scout and manager Tom Howard has been sourcing some of the most picturesque locations for film and TV all over the world. His credits include the hit BBC series Great Expectations and The Night Manager. Through his work, he has uncovered many a hidden treasure in the UK, from beautiful beaches to medieval style villages.

Tom shares his top hidden treasure picks below plus nearby Premier Inn hotels for you to make the most of them!

Tilbury Fort

Premier Inn Thurrock East (8 miles)

Tilbury Fort is one of the most amazing military forts in the UK. Situated in a very industrial area of Kent, it is one of my favourite locations in the UK. Built on the site of an Elizabethan fort the current construction dates from the 17th Century. I have used this site as a major location for Taboo as it has a controllable body of water and plenty of space to build the Georgian London riverside. If you stand on the battlements which over-look the Thames you can imagine what it used to be like guarding the world’s greatest trading harbour.

Featured in productions including;

  • Taboo
  • Wonder Woman
  • Tulip Fever – to be released start of 2019
  • Peterloo – to be released in 2018
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Leighton House

Premier Inn London Kensington (Olympia) (1 mile)

Leighton House really is a hidden ‘jewelled’ gem. The perfect location for an Edwardian story, it holds some of the best Arabesque interiors from a time when wealthy gentleman travellers explored and were inspired by the Middle East. Commissioned by Frederic Lord Leighton, a leading Pre-Raphaelite painter, as a home and studio, Arabic designs were used to decorate the interiors featuring fine tiled surfaces. The house is now a museum dedicated to Leighton and holds many paintings by him and others from this movement.

Featured in productions including;

  • Life in Squares
  •  Nicholas Nickleby
  • Brazil
  • Spooks
 
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Freshwater West Beach

Premier Inn Haverfordwest (North/A40) (22 miles)

Wales has many hidden gems, castles being one of them, but I have chosen a beach for this list. Freshwater Beach is not only one of England and Wales’ best beaches but also a regular haunt of the movie world. Looked after by the National Trust, close to Pembroke, and a mecca for surfers, this beach has also featured in several well-known movies including the Harry Potter franchise where a shell cottage was built in the dunes for the final film in the series.

Featured in;

  • Robin Hood
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Their Finest

 

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Charlestown Harbour

Premier Inn St Austell (3.2 miles)

To the south of St Austell is a tiny period harbour, Charlestown. An unspoilt, purpose-built harbour originating from the Georgian period built between 1791 and 1801. The harbour is owned and managed by Square Sail which supplies ships and the use of the location to the film and television industry. You can stay at the harbour and may even see another period production being filmed there.

Featured in;

  • Taboo
  • Poldark
  • The Eagle Has Landed
  • Hornblower

 

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Aysgarth Falls

Premier Inn Catterick Garrison (15.1 miles)

I am a great fan of the Yorkshire Dales, once spending weeks scouting for locations to feature in Andrea Arnold’s film of Wuthering Heights. Aysgarth Falls has featured before in two other film productions - Robin Hood starring Kevin Costner and the 1992 film version of Wuthering Heights starring Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes. It is a beautiful spot for a quiet walk amongst the dales.

Featured in;

  • Robin Hood
  • Wuthering Heights

 

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Lavenham

Premier Inn Bury St Edmunds (10.7 miles)

Suffolk is a favourite county of mine, filming there twice in my career in the seaside towns of Southwold and Aldeburgh. But it is the village of Lavenham which is my hidden treasure! It is a jewel of a medieval village and has a fine Guildhall (National Trust-owned) overlooking the market square. I am surprised it has not been seen more on screen! The Guildhall is a fine example of this type of architecture.

Featured in;

  • Barry Lyndon
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Lovejoy

 

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Lincoln Cathedral

Premier Inn Lincoln (1.2 miles)

As a location scout and manager we are always asked for locations to double for a difficult or non-existent set. A cathedral is not the easiest place to take over for film production especially Westminster Abbey but Lincoln Cathedral has been used a couple of times as a stand in for this iconic venue. The Da Vinci Code and The Young Victoria have used this iconic building as a stand in for Westminster Abbey, with the Da Vinci Code actually building a replica of the Isaac Newton tomb. More recently the old quarter of Lincoln has been used for a film to be released called Peterloo, replicating the Manchester of the 1800’s.

Featured in;

  • The Da Vinci Code
  • The Young Victoria

 

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Dunnottar Castle

Premier Inn Aberdeen South (Portlethen) (11.3 miles)

One of the most amazing positioned castles in Scotland! A medieval fortress on a rocky headland, the rock the Castle sits upon was forced to the surface 440 million years ago during the Silurian period and has been of great strategic importance over the centuries. Scouting for castles, especially the medieval type, Scotland is full of amazing castles situated in stunning landscapes untouched by the 21st Centaury. I have selected this castle as I remember seeing it in the film Hamlet and perhaps one day will be able to use it on one of my films.

Featured in;

  • Hamlet
  • Victor Frankenstein

 

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East Lancashire Railway

Premier Inn Manchester Bury (0.7 miles)

Who doesn’t like a steam train? Many of our heritage lines have been used for filming but I have chosen a line used in a film by JA Bayona A Monster Calls. I was in Manchester for 6 months preparing for a three week shoot in and around Manchester. My brief was to find a manageable level crossing for a driving sequence which features in the film. The driver (Sigourney Weaver) is on the way to the hospital but is held up by a closed level crossing. East Lancashire Railway has a crossing in Ramsbottom and on two nights in October 2014, we took over the town and railway to film this sequence. It’s a really great location.

Featured in;

  • A Monster Calls
  • The League of Gentlemen
  • Paddington 2
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Castle Ward

Premier Inn Lisburn (27.5 miles)

Northern Ireland gets used a lot for filming, mainly working out of Belfast but the biggest and most well-known production is Game of Thrones. Using many landscapes around the country for the mythical worlds seen in this production. I have chosen a popular location for the Game of Thrones fans, Castle Ward and their farmyard has been used for the location for Winterfell and many others. The National Trust look after this site and have made it a family day out here with activities and maps to find the spots in the estate which have been used in this monumental series.

Nearest Premier Inn: Lisburn

 

Image credit @ National Trust / Nick Meers

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