Home > Films > E > Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Tuesday April 16th 2024

Elizabeth: The Golden Age | 2007

Elizabeth location: Westminster Cathedral, Victoria, London
Elizabeth location: the Spanish court: Westminster Cathedral, Victoria, London

Almost a decade on from Elizabeth, director Shekhar Kapur revisits the subject with plenty of style but with a cavalier disregard for historical accuracy that had purists screaming. For a film climaxing with the defeat of the Spanish Armada, poor old Francis Drake barely gets a look in, as Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) takes centre stage as the Queen’s swashbuckling love object.

As in the previous film, there’s extensive and imaginative use of real locations. The darkly glittering Byzantine interior of London’s Catholic Westminster Cathedral, Victoria Street, Victoria, becomes the gloomy ‘Spanish court’ of King Philip II (Jordi Mollà), where he plans the seaborne invasion of England (don’t confuse it with the famous Westminster Abbey, at the other end of Victoria Street). Only a stone’s throw from Victoria Station, the Cathedral became a ‘Russian’ church in 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Its striking exterior can be seen in Derek Jarman’s Jubilee and in Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent (it was the site of Hitchcock’s memorial service in 1980).

Elizabeth, the Golden Age location: Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire
Elizabeth, the Golden Age location: the interior of Elizabeth’s ‘Whitehall’ court: Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire | Photograph: iStockphoto © Mark Doyle

Elizabeth’s ‘Whitehall’ court is Ely Cathedral, where Elizabeth confronts the Spanish ambassador about the plot to invade England in the Nave. The masque for young, tongue-tied, potential suitor Archduke Charles of Austria and Raleigh’s presentation of tobacco and potatoes, are Ely’s Lady Chapel.

The cathedral is also seen as ‘Whitehall’ in historical drama The Other Boleyn Girl and and as ‘Westminster Abbey’in the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech.

Elizabeth the Golden Age location: River Cam, Cambridge
Elizabeth the Golden Age location: the Queen’s barge on the ‘Thames’: River Cam, Cambridge | Photograph: iStockphoto © David Joyner

The ‘Whitehall’ exterior, though, where Walter Raleigh makes his presence known to the Queen by throwing his cloak to cover a puddle, is St John’s College in Cambridge. The Queen’s barge floats down, not the Thames, but the River Cam in Cambridge.

The interior is Hatfield House, Hatfield in Hertfordshire, was used to represent two separate locations. The North Entrance Hall and the Armoury became ‘Chartley Hall’, in which Mary, Queen of Scots, is imprisoned before her execution – though you might have difficulty recognising the house as the wood panelling was disguised with fake stone dressing. The real Chartley Hall, which stood at Stowe-by-Chartley in Staffordshire, was destroyed by fire in 1781.

Hatfield House’s Marble Hall, its Grand Staircase and Long Gallery, became the interior of the London house of Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush). Hatfield is a frequent location, seen in Tim Burton’s Batman, in Greystoke, the Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes and in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, among other films.

The interior of Walter Raleigh’s house is a location revisited from Elizabeth, where it was the home of doomed Lord Arundel. It’s Dorney Court, a Tudor manor house near Maidenhead, Berkshire, also featured in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, The Other Boleyn Girl, Mountains of the Moon and Circus.

A couple of exteriors, though, seem to have hit the cutting-room floor – they’re not even among deleted scenes on the DVD. The exterior of Raleigh’s house was Baddesley Clinton Hall, Rising Lane, Baddesley Clinton, while the exterior of Dr John Doe’s house was the imposing Burghley House, Stamford, Lincolnshire – seen in The Da Vinci Code, Joe Wright's 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and The Golden Bowl.

Elizabeth the Golden Age location: Winchester Cathedral
Elizabeth the Golden Age location: the old ‘St Paul’s Cathedral’: Winchester Cathedral | Photograph: iStockphoto © Alexander Bischoff

The old ‘St Paul’s Cathedral’ (which burned down in the Great Fire of 1666, to be replaced by Sir Christopher Wren’s famous domed church), is represented by Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, Hampshire. It’s in the Cathedral’s Lady Chapel that Babington makes his ill-fated attempt on the life of the Queen. Begun in 1079, the vast church was extended in 1200 and remodelled in 1400. On screen, the Cathedral was previously used for the Knights Templar flashback scenes in The Da Vinci Code.

Elizabeth the Golden Age location: Waverley Abbey, Farnham, Surrey
Elizabeth The Golden Age location: the Catholic conspirators deal with a traitor: Waverley Abbey, Farnham, Surrey | Photograph: Shutterstock / PhotoFires

The Catholic conspirators meet at the ruins of Waverley Abbey, near Farnham in Surrey, where Robert Reston (Rhys Ifans) and Thomas Babington (Eddie Redmayne) dole out rough justice to a suspected traitor. Waverley, the first Cistercian abbey, dating from 1128, is now administered by English Heritage – and open to visit from April to September. The abbey is also the site of the brief countryside rest in Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and the climactic chase in Edgar Wright's Hot Fuzz.

The rolling green hills where the Queen goes horseriding with Raleigh are the estate at Petworth in the centre of Petworth, five and a half miles east of Midhurst, West Sussex – a location seen in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon.

Elizabeth the Golden Age location: Eilean Donan Castle, west coast of Scotland
Elizabeth the Golden Age location: the exterior of ‘Fotheringay Castle’: Eilean Donan Castle, west coast of Scotland | Photograph: iStockphoto © Jeremy Voisey

The exterior of ‘Fotheringay Castle’, in which Mary Queen of Scots is imprisoned, is Eilean Donan Castle, on the west coast of Scotland, near to the picturesque village of Dornie on the main tourist route to the Isle of Skye. The striking outline of Eilean Donan might already be familiar from Highlander, romcom Made Of Honor, Bond movie The World is Not Enough and Loch Ness.

Elizabeth the Golden Age location: St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, London
Elizabeth the Golden Age location: the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots: St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, London

The execution of Mary takes place in the Priory Church of St Bartholomew The Great, Smithfield, London EC1. St Bartholomew’s, which gives its name to the famous hospital alongside, is a screen veteran. The interior can also be seen in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, where it stands in for ‘Nottingham Cathedral’; in The Other Boleyn Girl; Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes; Neil Jordan’s The End Of The Affair; Shakespeare in Love; Amazing Grace and – probably most famously – as ‘St Julian’s’ in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Two locations can be found in Somerset in The West Country. The striking staircase linking the North Transept to the Chapter House of Wells Cathedral became the main entrance into ‘Whitehall Palace’. Wells was the setting for Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz, though the famous Cathedral was digitally removed from the film to establish a more ‘villagey’ look.

Before the Spanish Armada, Elizabeth inspires the English troops from horseback at Brean Down on the eastern end of Bridgwater Bay, between Weston-super-Mare and Burnham-on-Sea, on the north Somerset coast – standing in for ‘Tilbury’ in Essex.