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Wednesday July 17th 2024

Hamlet | 1996

Hamlet filming location: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire
Hamlet location: the castle of ‘Elsinore’: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire | Photograph: Wikimedia / Alexanderm14

After the success of his film of Henry V in 1989, Kenneth Branagh was able to bring this big, and preposterously star-studded, version of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy to the screen. In fact, it was the first British movie in years to be filmed in 70mm, and was shot almost entirely on sets built at Shepperton Studios.

To match the film’s scope and stellar casting, there’s a suitably daunting exterior for the Danish castle of ‘Elsinore’ in the shape of Blenheim Palace, in the village of Woodstock, eight miles north of Oxford, Oxfordshire.

The vast Baroque mansion, designed by Sir John Vanbrugh in the early 18th century, was home to the Dukes of Marlborough, the Churchill family, becoming the birthplace and childhood home of Sir Winston Churchill. The house and its extensive grounds are now open to the public.

Blenheim appeared as the 'Italian palazzo' infiltrated by James Bond in Spectre, as the site of the 'sting' operation in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, as ‘Hallucinogen Hall’, the home of Sir August de Wynter (Sean Connery) in Jeremiah Chechik’s 1998 film of The Avengers, and as the palace of King Leopold of Belgium (Thomas Kretschmann) in The Young Victoria, and as a college in 2001 Hindi family melodrama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham....

Kenneth Branagh returned the Blenheim estate to supply the palace gardens for his 2015 version of Cinderella. The grounds are featured in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and in the flashback of Harry’s father tormenting the young Severus Snape in Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix.