The famous filming locations of Bath

PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 July 2020

Scenes from The Duchess

Scenes from The Duchess

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Bath has long attracted directors and producers eager to feature the city on both the big and small screen. See if you can spot it next time you watch the television shows and films below

DCI Lauren McDonald filming Belgravia (c) ITV/McDonald & Dodds.DCI Lauren McDonald filming Belgravia (c) ITV/McDonald & Dodds.

Hollywood Hits

The 2012 multi-award-winning musical film Les Misérables shot scenes in Bath, with Pulteney Bridge and Weir standing in for 19th-century Paris. The epic historical film, featuring an all-star cast, used the bridge as the location where Javert, played by Russell Crowe, takes his own life in a dramatic, plot-impinging scene.

The Little Theatre Cinema has also been immortalised in Wes Anderson’s 2009 stop motion classic Fantastic Mr. Fox – you can spot the red doors of its exterior towards the end of the film.  

Poldark used the Mansion and staff room at Prior Park CollegePoldark used the Mansion and staff room at Prior Park College

Period Drama Perfection

With Jane Austen living in Bath from 1801 to 1806, and the city providing inspiration for her novels Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, it makes sense that its historic Georgian streets would be used as locations for Austen period dramas. Both the 1995 and 2007 film versions of Persuasion use beautiful Bath as a backdrop.

Also set in Austen’s Georgian world, 2008’s The Duchess, starring Keira Knightley, features the grand Assembly Rooms and the Royal Crescent, as does 2004’s Vanity Fair, in which Reese Witherspoon plays the cynical yet complex social climber, Becky Sharp. Keep your eyes peeled too for scenes filmed in Bath in the exciting new period production Bridgerton. Based on the series of romantic historical novels by Julia Quinn and produced by Shonda Rhimes, this new early 1800s Regency drama features Julie Andrews as the voice of pivotal character Lady Whistledown and is set for release on Netflix later this year.

Small Screen Spots

It’s not just in movies that you can spot Bath. Fans of Benedict Cumberbatch will have seen him in 2015, when the cobbled Queen Street stood in for Victorian England in a special episode of Sherlock.

You might have also noticed Bath in The Trial of Christine Keeler, the recent BBC One series about the Profumo affair – rooms in the Guildhall were used to film the Old Bailey scenes and Abbey Green was used for scenes set in Notting Hill.

Look out for Bath in ITV drama McDonald and Dodds too, a series about an unlikely detective duo starring Jason Watkins and Tala Gouveia, which used Bath extensively for filming in 2019.

You can spot Bath Assembly Rooms in ITV’s new series Belgravia, a nineteenth-century historical drama starring Philip Glenister and Tamsin Greig. The stunning building features in much of the first episode as a setting for a grand ball in Brussels.

Whilst the period drama Poldark, which first aired in 2015, is set in Cornwall, several locations in the West Country stood in for seaside villages. In Wells, the Town Hall was used as Warleggan Bank and the Bishop’s Palace was transformed into a French convent; the Mansion and staff room at Prior Park College in Bath stood in for Truro Assembly Room’s ballroom. Gentle Street in the market town of Frome was also used for several scenes.

Famous Faces

Bath is, or has been home, to a few famous faces. Top independent film director Ken Loach lives in Bath and is patron of FilmBath Festival, which takes place each year in November. He’s also a loyal fan of the local football team, Bath City, and can sometimes be spotted at games.

Hollywood star Nicolas Cage also made Bath his home in the mid-noughties, buying a house in the prestigious Circus – three impressive curved segments of Grade-I listed Georgian townhouses.

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