With a sugar-sweet pastel palette, sweeping lawns and lavish estates, the 2020 adaptation of Emma is a visually stunning reimagining of Jane Austen’s novel of manners. Shot on location around England, audiences can step inside Austen’s vivid historical world with a day trip to one of the sites featured on-screen. Many of the filming locations used in the film are open to the public – here are eight that you can visit in real life.
1. Kingston Bagpuize House
Emma’s new friend Harriet Smith is a student at Mrs Goddard’s school, which in real life is Kingston Bagpuize House, near Abingdon in Oxfordshire. The house dates back to 1066, but it was rebuilt in the 1700s with a red brick facade and grand windows. There are formal gardens and a raised terrace walk to enjoy outdoors, and in the house, the entrance hall is host to a handsome cantilevered staircase.
2. Chavenage House
As the film opens, Emma is bereft that her old governess is to leave Hartfield for Randalls, the home of her new husband. Viewers may recognise Randalls as Trenwith, from the TV series Poldark. The real-life filming location is Chavenage House in Tetbury, an Elizabethan manor built in 1576 and largely unaltered for the last 440 years. Its slightly asymmetric E-shape plan, stained glass windows and mellow Cotswold stone walls will instantly impress, and inside you’ll find fine period furniture and two tapestry rooms, where Oliver Cromwell is believed to have slept in 1648. Chavenage House even has its own ghost story: it is said to be haunted by a headless horseman.
3. Wilton House
The filming location for Donwell Abbey – the residence of Mr Knightley, played by Johnny Flynn – was Wilton House near Salisbury, which previously starred in two other Austen adaptations: Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Sense and Sensibility (1995). The estate boasts 21 acres of landscaped parkland, a rose garden and a magnificent Palladian bridge. Inside Wilton House, guests can tour the elaborately gilded Cube Rooms, just as Emma and her friends do in the film.
4. Leith Hill
The fateful picnic on Box Hill was actually filmed on neighbouring Leith Hill in Dorking, Surrey. Climb to the top of Leith Hill Tower, which marks the highest point in south-east England, take a woodland walk through the surrounding countryside, or settle down for a much less fraught picnic of your own.
5. All Saints Church, St Paul’s Walden
Josh O’Connor’s vicar Mr Elton is the comic standout of the film, particularly his sermons at the Highbury parish church. Visitors to All Saints Church, in the Hertfordshire village of St Paul’s Walden, can see the ornate, bright green Georgian screen separating the chancel from the nave, which plays a starring role in the film’s wedding scenes. All Saints Church also has another claim to fame: as the site of the Queen Mother’s baptism in 1900.
6. Firle Place
We meet Emma Woodhouse at home in Hartfield, a picturesque Georgian manor. The filmmakers found their Hartfield at Firle Place, a country estate in the South Downs National Park near Lewes. Originally built in the 1540s, the house was remodelled extensively in the 18th century, making it a perfect fit for the film’s Regency setting. Visitors will be charmed by the double courtyard, formal gardens and striking exterior stone cladding with a three-part serliana window. Indoors, climb the elegant staircase in the vibrant blue hall, explore the mint green drawing room and admire the collection of Old Master paintings in the long gallery.
7. Lower Slaughter
The idyllic Cotswolds village provides the backdrop for a number of scenes, standing in for Highbury market square, Ford’s Haberdasher and the exterior of the Crown Inn. For the haberdashery, the windows of the village hall offered a view over the whole town (ideal for Emma’s people-watching) while Lower Slaughter’s characterful cottages, gently babbling stream and small bridge crossings created an unspoilt setting for a variety of romantic rendezvous.
8. Wrotham Park
This neo-Palladian mansion in Hertfordshire will be familiar to fans of period drama, having appeared in Gosford Park, The Crown, Jane Eyre and Agatha Christie’s Poirot. In Emma, Wrotham Park (pronounced “Rootam”) serves as the home of the Coles, where Emma attends a party with Mr Knightley and Mr Churchill. Visitors can meander through sweeping parkland before perusing the extravagant interiors, which were restored in 1883 following a fire. The house opens to the public during Open House London weekend each year.
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