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Unexplored film locations – walk in Oscar-winning footsteps

The East of England is no stranger to Hollywood Oscar winners, TV cameras and the bright lights.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Keira Knightley and Lily James have brought pzazz and glamour to the region, and you can walk in their footsteps of some of these picturesque locations…

Sutton Hoo

The Dig Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes stars as self-taught working-class archaeologist Basil Brown who discovers an Anglo-Saxon burial ship at Sutton Hoo on the eve of the second world war.

Carey Mulligan and Lily James add even more glamour to this Netflix drama released in January 2021.

Scenes were shot close to Sutton Hoo, at Shingle Street, Thorpeness beach and Snape, and there was also some shooting at Cromer Pier.

Sutton Hoo

Holkham Hall and beach

The Duchess, Holkham Hall

Remember the closing scenes to Shakespeare in Love (1999) with shipwrecked Gwyneth Paltrow walking on a huge beach in Virginia? Yep, you guessed, Holkham beach, routinely voted the best beach in Britain.

Also filmed here was Natalie Portman’s Annihilation (2018), based on the Alex Garland best-seller.

The magnificent Palladian hall was one of the stars of The Duchess (2008), along with Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes.

Hollywood comes to Holkham

Holkham Hall

Bury St Edmunds

David Copperfield film

Armando Iannucci’s comedy-drama reworking of Dickens’ classic, The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019), had many stars, not least Dev Patel in the title role, supported by Hugh Laurie, Ben Whishaw, Paul Whitehouse, Tilda Swinton and Peter Capaldi. But for us the star was Bury St Edmunds. Take a bow Angel Hill, looking magnificent in Victorian times.

More David Copperfield

King’s Lynn

David Copperfield

Hanseatic maritime town King’s Lynn, with more Graded buildings than York, was turned into violent 18th century New York for Hugh Hudson’s Revolution (1985), starring Al Pacino, Nastassja Kinski and Donald Sutherland. The film was a massive flop, but King’s Lynn looked nice, all dressed up, as it was again for the previously mentioned The Personal History of David Copperfield.


Filming Yesterday at Gorleston

A pivotal moment in Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis’ Yesterday when Himesh Patel’s character blasts out The Beatles’ Help on a roof to a packed beach was filmed at The Pier, with 5000 extras brought in to be the ecstatic crowd.

The seaside town was also used in earlier shots in the film – in particular the night when the world forgot The Beatles ever existed and a house on Cliff Hill was used as the home of a character played by Lily James.

Lowestoft also featured in Yesterday, with scenes shot at Ormiston Denes Academy using some of the pupils – Lily James’ character is a teacher at the school. As a thank you for their help, director Danny Boyle gave the students a movie masterclass.

Other Yesterday locations

Broads National Park

Charlotte Rampling on the Broads in 45 Years

Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay gave Berlin Prize-winning performances in 45 years (2015) which featured them enjoying some of the 125 miles of waterways. Bizarrely, the Broads doubled as Vietnamese paddy fields in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket (1987), the director famously refusing to get on airplanes.

Burnham Deepdale

James Bond's Die Another Day

Talking of paddy fields, Burnham Deepdale in north Norfolk doubled for them as well, this time North Korean, in Die Another Day (2002), with Pierce Brosnan as 007.


Framlingham Castle

BBC4 comedy Detectorists, starring Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook, was filmed in the magnificent castle town, masquerading as the fictional Daneby. The series won a BAFTA in 2015.


Harry Potter Lavenham

Godric’s Hollow, Harry Potter’s birthplace, was filmed in picture-postcard Lavenham.

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.

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

The medieval town, which has 300 listed buildings, was also used in Ian McShane’s Lovejoy – the final episode of the popular series was titled ‘Last Tango in Lavenham’.

Lovejoy’s Morris Minor was also seen in Newmarket, Clare and Bury St Edmunds while Belchamp Hall in Essex doubled as Lady Jane’s stately home and Long Melford’s Bull Hotel and many antique shops featured regularly.


David Jason in All The King's Men

The Royal Family’s private Norfolk family home isn’t normally used as a film location, but an exception was made for All The King’s Men (1999), starring David Jason, as it told the story of world war one volunteers from the estate who mysteriously disappeared in Gallipoli in 1915. You can learn more about their story at the Sandringham Museum.


Stardust, Norwich

The best-preserved medieval city in the country has been used as a backdrop in many films. In 2007 Clare Danes filmed Stardust in Elm Hill and at The Britons Arms. The film also featured Robert de Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer. Tulip Fever, a period drama set in 17th century Amsterdam starring Dame Judi Dench (2016) was filmed at Norwich Cathedral as was Jack the Giant Slayer also in 2016. And in the feature film 45 Years (2015), there were shots outside Jarrolds Department Store, on London Street and in the Royal Arcade with Charlotte Rampling.

Just 2 miles away at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Avengers: Age of Ultron saw the cast using the world-famous Norman Foster building as their Avengers headquarters. So no, not upstate New York after all!


Captain Mainwaring statue, Thetford

Dad’s Army was filmed in and around the town and the centre now boasts a fetching statue to Captain Mainwaring by the River Little Ouse. There’s a Dad’s Army Museum where you can see artefacts from the ever-popular series written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft.

More film locations in the East of England

More film locations in Norfolk

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