Film Connections in British Heritage

Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, with its stately architecture, splendid gardens and idyllic landscape, is one of Britain’s most popular historic attractions, but also finds time to star in some top film and TV productions. These include the BBC adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel, Jane Eyre, and the films Pride and Prejudice (2005),

The Duchess (2008) and The Wolfman (2009). Providing settings for classic novels and werewolves, Chatsworth is certainly a versatile star, and was understandably featured in the Channel 4 series, Great Estates.The Duchess, and Keira Knightley’s dress from that film will also be on display.The Assembly Rooms, like Chatsworth, played host.

The film-makers James Ivory and Ismail Merchant are closely associated with period dramas, and they have made as much use of the country’s historic properties as they have of the great writers of English literature. One of their best-loved films, based on the 1989 novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day, featured two West Country houses, Powderham Castle in Devon and Dyrham Park in Gloucestershire.

Of course, however splendid or appropriate the location, no costume drama can be complete without the right costume. The dress worn by Judi Dench, this time playing a different queen – Elizabeth I – in the 1998 film Shakespeare in Love, can be seen at the exhibition “Dressing the Stars” in Bath’s Assembly Roomsfrom 12 July to 29 August.

William Shakespeare did not have to worry about researching and finding locations – but the perennial debate about the true authorship of his plays will be given another airing in a film to be released later this year, called Anonymous. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, of which Judi Dench is an Honorary Fellow, will no doubt be mounting a robust defence of the local hero.

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