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Masters of the Air The Friendly Invasion

Movie and TV locations in the East of England

5 Nights Itinerary

Masters of the Air is the latest slice of Hollywood focused on the East of England. This itinerary doesn’t just take you to some of the locations of major films and TV programmes, but also some of the most historic sites in the region.

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Day 1
Discover Bury St Edmunds' cinematic charm and historic beauty of Lavenham
Lavenham and Bury St Edmunds

After a night in Bury St Edmunds explore this historic town that was used as a location for Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield, based on Charles Dickens’ novel and starring Dev Patel, Hugh Laurie and Tilda Swinton. Production transformed Angel Hill into Victorian London. Other scenes were shot in Athenaeum Lane, Chequers Square and in the Theatre Royal.

David Copperfield film

The Angel Hotel and The Athenaeum featured in The Personal History of David Copperfield.

In a neat twist, The Angel Hotel on Angel Hill actually played host to Charles Dickens when he was in town to read his classic stories at The Athenaeum.

Traditional market days are Wednesday and Saturday and here you will find plenty of restaurants, cafes and shopping opportunities. Take time to explore the Abbey Gardens and Bury St Edmunds cathedral.

David Copperfield film

Shooting took place in Bury St Edmunds’ Regency Theatre Royal.


Wend your way through stunning countryside to picture-postcard Lavenham, one of Suffolk’s unspoiled Wool Towns, named for the medieval cloth trade that made this area one of the most prosperous in the country.

You’re here to see Godric’s Hollow, Harry Potter’s birthplace. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2 (2010) the Guildhall became the derelict home of Harry’s parents and 15th-century timber-framed De Vere House appeared as the backdrop for the scene where Voldemort murders Harry’s parents.

Harry Potter Lavenham

Filming for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2 took place in Lavenham.

The owners said they once had a knock on the door and the person outside asked if Harry was at home!

The medieval town has more than 300 listed buildings, not least the Crooked House, a slanted property whose warped timbers have given it a properly higgledy-piggledy appearance.

Take lunch at The Swan at Lavenham, where the bar walls are decorated with the signatures of US servicemen from the nearby Lavenham airfield, base for the 487th Bombardment Group during World War II.

The base’s first US commander was Beirne Lay Jr who went on to be the co-author and scriptwriter on the 1949 Hollywood blockbuster ‘Twelve O’Clock High’, starring Gregory Peck.

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Day 2
A journey through knowledge, history, and iconic filming locations

One of the best-known University cities in the world, famous for knowledge and learning, Cambridge offers many ancient buildings and stunning backdrops to both the film-maker and visitor.

Cambridge Landscape - credit Damien Vickers Photography

‘The Backs’ of Cambridge University.

The most successful movie filmed in Cambridge is the $123m-grossing The Theory of Everything, a 2014 biopic/romantic drama about theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant scientists of the 20th century.

Starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox and Emily Watson it is one of the most successful British movies of all times, nominated for ten BAFTA Awards, four Golden Globe, and an Oscar.

The Theory of Everything, Cambridge

The Theory of Everything was filmed in Cambridge by the river Cam.

Another biopic, Sylvia, about poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath and starring Daniel Craig and Gwyneth Paltrow, was set at its beginning and end in Cambridge, at the University and other locations around the city.

When the producers of Elizabeth: The Golden Age, starring Cate Blanchett, needed a river and some historical buildings, they came to Cambridge. Part of the movie was set at St John’s College and remember the bit when the Queen’s barge floated down the Thames? Not the Thames, but the Cam.

While in the city, head for The Eagle pub where you can see graffiti made by World War II flyers on the wall. This is also the pub where Watson and Crick announced they had discovered the structure of DNA.

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Day 3
Historic treasures on the Norfolk coast
Ely and King's Lynn

We’re heading towards the north Norfolk coast with stops at Ely and King’s Lynn, with its nearby Royal House and Estate.

In low-lying Fenland you’ll find the magnificent ‘Ship of the Fens’, the 1000-year-old Norman cathedral that was built when Ely was an island surrounded by freshwater marshes. It was only 400 years ago it was drained to create fertile farmland.

Ely Cathedral

The cathedral has a nave that is among the longest in England, with a remarkable 19th century painted ceiling, making it ideal to play the part of Westminster Abbey in The King’s Speech with Colin Firth and Netflix’s The Crown with Claire Foy, Jared Harris and, as Winston Churchill, John Lithgow.

It was also used in The Other Boleyn Girl  with Natalie Portman and Scarlet Johansson, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and also Maestro for which Bradley Cooper, cast and crew took over Poets House Hotel for a week during filming.

Netflix’s The Crown with Claire Foy and Jared Harris was filmed at Ely Cathedral.

Ely is the second smallest city in England and it has lots of charm, not least by the Great Ouse riverside. For lunch, try Peacocks Tea Rooms with its traditional tea room and vintage crockery; Poets House is a lovely boutique hotel with nice bar for eating; or if you’re after a traditional pub, there’s no better than the Prince Albert and The Royal Standard.

Like Bury St Edmunds, King’s Lynn featured in Armando Iannucci’s Dickens’ adaptation The Personal Life of David Copperfield, and it was also a location for the 1985 film Revolution, starring Al Pacino, Donald Sutherland and Nastassja Kinski.

The Personal Life of David Copperfield

Nelson Street, King’s Lynn features in The Personal Life of David Copperfield.

A few miles away is Sandringham, the Royal Family’s private home, which played itself in the BBC’s All The Kings Men (1999), with David Jason and Dame Maggie Smith. The reason? It tells the story of a group of world war one volunteers from the Sandringham estate who joined the Norfolk Regiment and inexplicably disappeared in Gallipoli in 1915. You can learn more about the story at the Sandringham Museum.

Sandrignham House

The Royal family’s Sandringham House and Estate are open to the public most of the year.

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Day 4
From Historic Filming Locations to Marvel's Avengers Headquarters
Holkham and Norwich

Holkham Hall and Estate is arguably the region’s most significant film location.

Holkham Hall

The 18th century Palladian house has been used for The Duchess (2008), starring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes, All The King’s Men (1999) with David Jason, and Dean Spanley (2008) with Peter O’Toole and Sam Neill.

Ralph Fiennes and Keira Knightley in The Duchess.

Tours of the Palladian house are available.

The nearby beach has also seen its fair share of filming too… The Eagle Has Landed (1976) with Michael Caine, 7 times Oscar winner Shakespeare in Love (1999) with Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes, and Annihilation (2018) with Natalie Portman.

Castle and cathedral, Norwich

The Norman castle and cathedral in Norwich.

Norwich, England’s UNESCO City of Stories and the best-preserved medieval city in the country, has a lovely walkable city centre, and magnificent castle and cathedral built by the Normans one thousand years ago.

The interior of Norwich’s Norman cathedral was turned into a medieval castle in the fairytale adventure Jack the Giant Slayer (2013). Directed by Bryan Singer, it starred Ewan McGregor, Ian McShane, and Bill Nighy.

Stardust, Norwich

Clare Danes in Stardust on Norwich’s Elm Hill.

Elm Hill was an important location in the fantasy adventure Stardust (2007), starring Clare Danes, Robert de Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Sienna Miller. With the addition of a thatched awning, The Briton’s Arms coffee shop was transformed into ‘The Slaughtered Prince’.

The city didn’t have to come to a standstill for 45 Years (2015), starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay, the filming was done secretly so those ‘extras’ outside Jarrolds’ Department Store are genuine shoppers. Other city locations were London Street, St Benedict’s, the Royal Arcade and the Assembly Rooms.

The Sainsbury Centre of Visual Arts.

Outside the city, visit Norman Foster’s futuristic Sainsbury Centre of Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia.  The venue played the Upstate New York HQ of Marvel’s Avengers in Age of Ultron (2015), Ant Man (2015) with Paul Rudd and Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) with Tom Holland.

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Day 5
Yesterday's seaside serenade to Anglo Saxon Sutton Hoo
Gorleston, Gt Yarmouth and Sutton Hoo

It’s off to the seaside, Gorleston-on-Sea to be precise, where scenes from writer Richard ‘Notting Hill’ Curtis’ Yesterday were filmed. Director Danny Boyle, who won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire in 2009, filmed a rooftop performance at the Pier Hotel by the movie’s leading character Jack, played by Himesh Patel.

Filming Yesterday at Gorleston

Filming for Yesterday on the beach at Gorleston-on-Sea.

For the shot there were 6000 extras on the beach. The film also featured Lily James and Ed Sheeran.

Lydia Eva at South Quay, Great Yarmouth

The Lydia Eva, in Great Yarmouth’s harbour, features in the new Willy Wonka film.

At South Quay, Great Yarmouth, across the River Yare, you’ll see the Lydia Eva, the world’s last surviving steam-powered herring drifter, now a floating museum. It has a role in Wonka, starring Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Colman and Sally Hawkins.

Sutton Hoo

A replica of the Anglo Saxon king’s funereal helmet found at Sutton Hoo.

Further down the Suffolk coast is Sutton Hoo, now managed by the National Trust, where in 1939 the burial ship of Anglo-Saxon King Raedwald was excavated, arguably one of Europe’s greatest-ever archaeological finds.  The movie ‘The Dig’, starring Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan, is based on the eponymous book and re-enacts the events that took place that year.

Ralph Fiennes in The Dig.

Close by, on the Deben riverside, is The Ramsholt Arms where a pivotal scene from Yesterday was filmed – the moment Jack performs the titular song and his friends ask when he wrote it!

Step back to Yesterday in Suffolk

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