UK film locations that pretend to be something they’re not

Thursday 23 August 2018

Not all UK locations in movies are quite what the filmmakers would have you believe. Here are 5 celluloid charlatans worth knowing if you’re a movie buff, a set-jetter or just when you’re short of conversation in the pub.

The movie: The Da Vinci Code Where they say it is: Westminster Abbey, London Actual location: Lincoln Cathedral

Last time I looked, Isaac Newton was buried in Westminster Abbey not Lincoln Cathedral where his elaborate monument was recreated in the Da Vinci Code. The real tomb is well worth a visit – though you might have to elbow nutty conspiracy theorists out of the way to get a look. In fact, Lincoln Cathedral is pretty amazing, too. It may not have the famous graves but it’s one of the finest gothic cathedrals in Europe and home to some spectacular medieval rose windows.




The movie: Robin Hood Prince of Thieves Where they say it is: Somewhere between Dover and Nottingham Actual location: Sycamore Gap, Northumberland

Kevin Costner’s suspiciously American-sounding Robin Hood may have been a crack shot with a bow, but his navigation skills are a bit off. He and his friend Azeem take a pretty strange route from the South Coast to Nottingham with a photogenic detour to Northumberland – nearly 200 miles further north. Fans of Roman history will recognise Sycamore Gap, a picturesque tree standing in a hollow next to a section of Hadrian’s wall, the 1,800-year-old World Heritage Site.


The movie: Brideshead Revisited Where they say it is: An ocean liner Actual location: Eltham Palace, London

This lush adaptation of the Evelyn Waugh novel about illicit love and loss is filmed in several high-profile locations. But you don’t need to go to sea to check out the ‘ocean liner’ where Charles shows off his paintings. The lounge is actually on the firmer ground of Eltham Palace in London, one of the UK’s most lavish art deco buildings.


The movie: Elizabeth: The Golden Age Where they say it is: The Court of King Philip III, Spain Actual location: Westminster Cathedral, London

Westminster Cathedral, the terracotta neo-Byzantine beast of a building behind Victoria Station in London stars in the film Elizabeth: The Golden Age, alongside Cate Blanchett. Its interior is so richly gilded and darkly exotic that it passes for a pretty good 16th-century Spanish palace. This style of architecture is practically unique in the UK so it’s well worth popping in.


The movie: Full Metal Jacket Where they say it is: Huế, Vietnam Actual location: Beckton Gasworks (RIP), East London

So grim and so ravaged was the disused (and now demolished) Beckton gasworks, that in 1987, Stanley Kubrick rightly surmised it would make a pretty good Huế – the city in central Vietnam that saw some of the fiercest fighting of the Vietnam War. The area has now been redeveloped as housing and retail units so Kubrick pilgrims will have to look elsewhere for their fix. From the picture below you can see the palm trees that were added to the set.

Full Metal Jacket

IMAGES VIA: Anita363, James Stringer, Pisces Pix, Squishband, English-Heritage

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