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Wednesday July 17th 2024

A Man For All Seasons | 1966

A Man For All Seasons film location: Studley Priory, Horton Hill, Horton-Cum-Studley, Oxfordshire
A Man For All Seasons film location: Sir Thomas More’s home: Studley Priory, Horton Hill, Horton-Cum-Studley, Oxfordshire

Fred Zinnemann’s adaptation of Robert Bolt’s play isn’t exactly cutting-edge cinema, but it's intelligent and, naturally, well-acted – grabbing six Oscars, including Best Film and Best Direction, as well as Best Actor for Paul Scofield.

Scofield plays Sir Thomas More, confidante of King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw), facing a crisis conscience over the King’s determination to divorce Catherine of Aragon.

Despite what guide books may claim, there was no filming at Hampton Court Palace – the palace of Cardinal Wolsey (Orson Welles), seen in the film, is no more than a set.

The real Hampton Court Palace, on the River Thames at East Molesey, southwest of London in Surrey, was built in 1514 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, but after the Cardinal fell out of favour with King Henry VIII, the monarch seized the palace for himself – naturally enlarging it. Toward the end of the 17th century, King William III commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to update the Palace in the Baroque style, intending to rival the French palace at Versailles. The plans were not fully realised and the palace remains a mixture of Baroque and Tudor.

George II was the last monarch to live here, and the complex is now open to the public. The Palace has not often been seen on screen, until the last few years, when it's appeared in The Young Victoria, Jack The Giant Slayer, The Theory Of Everything, Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Terrence Malick's The New World,

Thomas More’s house on the Thames at ‘Chelsea’, however, is a real location. It’s Studley Priory, Horton Hill, Horton-Cum-Studley, about seven miles northeast of Oxford. A one-time Benedictine monastery, more recently a hotel, the priory was sold in 2004 and is now a private home,

The ‘Thames’ is the River Beaulieu, flowing through the estate of Beaulieu Abbey, on the B3504, south of Southampton in Hampshire. The river wall built alongside was reproduced at Studley Priory, allowing characters to leap across counties in a single bound!