Lights, camera, action…Romsey

Posted on: 17 May 2019 by Louise

If you’re a bit of a film (or even TV) buff, you might be interested to know that Romsey has served as the location and backdrop for productions for both the big and small screens. Movie and television production companies return time after time to Test Valley for its mix of scenic countryside, historic towns and chocolate box houses. Many blockbuster Hollywood stars have travelled to Hampshire for filming and were probably in the area working without most of us ever realising!

Productions featuring Romsey

Romsey’s longest running production was a TV show featuring detective Inspector Wexford - created by crime, mystery and thriller writer Ruth Rendell. Inspector Wexford lived and worked in the fictional Mid Sussex market town of Kingsmarkham. With the Abbey as the magnificent backdrop, Romsey became the setting for the series. With its layout and landmarks very similar to Rendell’s own blueprint for Kingsmarkham, the Abbey, Corn Exchange and even Lord Palmerston’s statue were featured. The former magistrates court also played a part as the Police station, but as it was a working court at the time filming was restricted to weekends, so ultimately the production company replicated the station in a warehouse in Southampton.

 BBC series Escape to the Country takes prospective buyers across the country looking for their dream homes, and in 2013 one of it’s episodes featured Mottisfont and the surrounding area. The National Trust owned estate was also used for scenes in Great Expectations (2012) starring Douglas Booth, Ray Winstone, David Suchet and Gillian Anderson and the famous walled rose gardens were used to recreate a kitchen garden that the old priory’s monks would recognise for an episode of BBC’s Inside Out.

Houghton Lodge in Stockbridge was the setting for Wilde (1997), the story of the genius, poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, who was played by the talented actor and former QI presenter Stephen Fry. Set in Victorian England, the film also stared Vanessa Redgrave, Jude Law, Jennifer Ehle and many more.

The Buccaneers, a 1995 production of Edith Wharton’s popular book, told the story of four American girls that come to England to find suitable husbands. Houghton Lodge was the location of ‘Runnymede’, the home of character Idina Hatton played by Jenny Agutter. A pier by the river built for filming is still there today.

A generation of children grew up (myself included!)  watching Worzel Gummidge (1979-1981) – Starring Jon Pertwee. The children’s programme about a scarecrow was filmed in the nearby villages of Stockbridge, Kings Somborne and Braishfield.

Fact based drama No Child of mine (1997) starring EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella, saw scenes filmed at The Community School in Romsey

CBeebies children’s programme ‘My Pet and Me’ filmed for the third series (2016) at that years Romsey Show held at Broadlands.

Beyond Romsey

As well as locations in Romsey, the surrounding area and locations across Test Valley and Hampshire have played host to some pretty big productions! To name just a few:

The Da Vinci Code (2006) - scenes from the movie starring Tom Hanks were filmed at Winchester Cathedral, along with Elizabeth: The golden age (2007) starring Cate Blanchett.

James Bond has been a regular visitor to Hampshire, with scenes from Quantum of Solace (2008)  filmed at Farnborough Airport, and the makers of Die Another Day (2002) turned the Hawley Bear Pit in Farnborough into the north-south Korean border.

Les Miserables (2012) - starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe and Amanda Seyfried, filmed scenes at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard and Winchester College.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014) – the Hollywood apocalyptic sci-fi drama stars Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Parts of the movie were filmed at a former army base in Barton Stacey.

Highclere castle isn’t just famous for being the home of Downton Abbey (2010 – 2015). The popular ITV series that was largely filmed at Highclere will be returning in September 2019, with a highly anticipated movie for the big screen, but before there was the magic of Downton, other big productions at Highclere Castle include Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) starring Alan Rickman, Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Eyes Wide Shut (1999) starring Tom cruise and Nicole Kidman, scenes for TV series Jeeves and Wooster (1990-1993) played by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, The Four Feathers (2002) starring the late Heath Ledger and King Ralph (1991) which featured John Goodman and Peter O’Toole. Highclere also played the part of Mistlethwaite Manor for a 1987 production of The Secret Garden that starred Colin Firth, Billie Whitelaw and Derek Jacobi and has also hosted episodes of the BBC series, Antiques Roadshow.

Nautical BBC production Howards Way (1985-1990)  starring Maurice Colbourne, Jan Harvey, Stephen Yardley and Kate O’Mara was filmed in the village of Hamble, actually on the River Hamble  and nearby Old Burlsedon was the home of the Mermaid Boatyard and the Jolly Sailor Pub. Other locations in Hampshire were also used for filming including Southampton, Lymington Exbury and the Isle of Wight.

Miss Marple (1984-1992) – episodes of the BBC series starring Joan Hickson as writer Agatha Christies famous sleuth, featured Nether Wallop as Miss Marple’s home village of St. Mary Mead.

For more information, download a copy of the Hampshire Film Map for filming locations across the county, many of which are open to visitors