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Thursday July 18th 2024

The Other Boleyn Girl | 2007

The Other Boleyn Girl location: Knole House, Sevenoaks, Kent
The Other Boleyn Girl location: the exterior of ‘Whitehall Palace’: Knole House, Sevenoaks, Kent | Photograph: Shutterstock / IR Stone

Sibling rivalry brings a new spin to the events covered in Anne of the Thousand Days, as Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman) competes with her hitherto little-known sister Mary (Scarlett Johansson) for the affections of the young King Henry VIII (Eric Bana).

The breathless pace needed to cram Philippa Gregory’s novel into a two hour film results in the rollercoaster feel of a weekly soap, but the cracking cast, right down to the smaller roles, make the most of the material.

The decision to film in HD video, and mainly on real locations, gives an immediacy often missing from period dramas. Studio sets are pretty much restricted to the hall used for the formal dance at court and the King's bedchamber.

As is the usual practise, several properties are knitted together to provide the major settings: the country estate of the ambitious Boleyn family and the monarch’s long-vanished ‘Palace of Whitehall’. Some of them will probably familiar to eagle-eyed moviegoers.

The exterior of the Boleyn estate in ‘Kent’ is Great Chalfield Manor, Melksham, Wiltshire, a 15th century manor house a few miles east of Bath. It’s a National Trust property, which means you can visit.

Not only that, you can also stay at the Manor – apart from the beautiful city of Bath, it’s not far from Corsham Court (featured in The Remains Of The Day and Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon), and from Castle Combe, the ‘prettiest village in England’, backdrop for Dr Dolittle and War Horse.

The other Boleyn Girl filming location: Haddon Hall, Derbyshire
The Other Boleyn Girl location: the interior of the Boleyn family home: Haddon Hall, Derbyshire

Several Tudor houses are combined to supply the interior of the Boleyn family home, foremost among them Haddon Hall, one of the seats of the Duke of Rutland, just south of Bakewell in Derbyshire. The house has previously featured in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice, with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen; the 2011 film of Jane Eyre with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender (as well as the 1996 Franco Zeffirelli version); Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth, with Cate Blanchett; Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride; as well as Trevor Nunn’s Lady Jane.

The wood-panelled room, where the scheming Duke of Norfolk (David Morrissey) questions his niece Mary about the intimate details of her night with the King, is the Great Hall of Dorney Court, a Tudor manor house near Maidenhead in Berkshire.

Dorney was also seen Elizabeth, as the home of the Earl of Arundel; as the house of explorer John Speke in Bob Rafelson’s 1989 Mountains of the Moon; and as the mansion robbed by scousers in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels.

More of the interiors were filmed at Bolebroke Castle, Edenbridge Road, Hartfield, East Sussex, a hunting lodge where the real Henry VIII is believed to have stayed.

The dramatic green valley through which the King and his entourage ride on their way to the Boleyn estate can be found in the beautiful Peak District of Derbyshire. It's Cave Dale, a limestone valley running south from the village of Castleton, north of Haddon Hall.

Castleton and the Peak District are also showcased in a rather different film, cult 70s horror The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue.

The vast ‘Palace of Whitehall’ encompasses a slew of locations apart from the studio sets.

The exterior of the palace, and the rooftops of 16th century London, are Knole House, Knole Lane, Sevenoaks in Kent. One of England’s largest Tudor houses, it’s meant to be a calendar house – supposedly containing 365 rooms, 52 staircases, 12 entrances and seven courtyards. If you want to dispute that, feel free to count them yourself. Knole appeared more recently in John Landis’s 2010 film, Burke and Hare, and in Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

The Other Boleyn Girl location: Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire
The Other Boleyn Girl location: the interior of King Henry’s ‘Whitehall’ court: Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire | Photograph: iStockphoto © Mark Doyle

The grand ceremonial areas of the palace are represented by Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire. You can clearly see its elaborately carved spiral Organ Stairs. The cathedral was also seen as ‘Whitehall” in Elizabeth: The Golden Age and as ‘Westminster Abbey’ in The King’s Speech.

The Other Boleyn Girl location: Lacock Abbey, Lacock, Wiltshire
The Other Boleyn Girl location: the bath house of ‘Whitehall Palace’: Lacock Abbey, Lacock, Wiltshire

The bedroom of Katherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent), where the queen greets the Boleyn sisters on their arrival at court, is the Chapter House of Lacock Abbey, a Gothicised 13th Century abbey in Lacock, three miles south of Chippenham in Wiltshire.

The abbey famously provided interiors for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, and the Chapter House is the room in which Harry discovered the 'Mirror of Erised' in Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone. The Abbey’s Warming Room provided the Palace’s bath house, and its Cloisters stand in for the palace corridors.

The Other Boleyn Girl location: Penshurst Place, Kent
The Other Boleyn Girl location: Anne flirts with the King in the dining hall of ‘Whitehall Palace’: Baron’s Hall, Penshurst Place, Kent

Returned from France, the newly-confident Anne flirts shamelessly with the King as a banquet held the Baron’s Hall of Penshurst Place, family home of the Viscount de L’Isle, and one of the finest 14th century manor houses in England, in Penshurst village, Kent. The house is open to the public, as are the gardens, which provide the ‘Whitehall Palace’ gardens, and were also seen in the 1960s film of the story, Anne of the Thousand Days.

The other Boleyn Girl filming location: Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, London
The Other Boleyn Girl location: the trial of Katherine of Aragon: Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, London

The trial of Queen Katherine, and Anne's wedding to the king – and her subsequent trial – use the Priory Church of St Bartholomew The Great, Smithfield, London EC1 in Smithfield, London EC1 (a familiar location seen in in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves; Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes; Neil Jordan’s The End Of The Affair; Shakespeare in Love and Four Weddings and a Funeral, among many other productions.

The Other Boleyn Girl location: Dover Castle, Dover, Kent
The Other Boleyn Girl location: Anne and her brother George are imprisoned in the ‘Tower of London’: Dover Castle, Dover, Kent | Photograph: wikimedia / Jake Keup

The real 'Tower of London', where Anne and her brother George (Jim Sturgess) are imprisoned and ultimately executed, is rarely rarely seen onscreen (come on, it does house the Crown Jewels). In this case, Dover Castle, in Kent, stands in for the famous royal fortification on the Thames.

Originally a ‘motte and bailey’ castle, Dover Castle grew to its imposing form after the Norman Conquest of 1066, under King Henry II. The great rectangular Keep, with four square corner towers, make it an ideal stand in for London’s iconic Tower, in films such as To Kill A King and Trevor Nunn’s Lady Jane. The castle was also seen in Franco Zeffirelli’s1990 film of Hamlet, with Mel Gibson and as the Prince's castle in Rob Marshall's 2014 film of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into The Woods.

The Other Boleyn Girl location: North Lees Hall, Stanage Edge, Derbyshire
The Other Boleyn Girl location: Mary finally settles down with William: North Lees Hall, Stanage Edge, Derbyshire

Banished from court, Mary finally settles down in the country, with William Stafford (Eddie Redmayne) and her children, at North Lees Hall, Hathersage in the Peak District, Derbyshire. The Hall is believed to have been the inspiration for ‘Thornfield Hall’, home of Mr Rochester in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

The real home of the Boleyn family, by the way, was Hever Castle & Gardens, three miles southeast of Edenbridge in Kent, between Sevenoaks and East Grinstead, itself seen in Anne of the Thousand Days and another location for The Princess Bride.

Historically, the King’s London home, the Palace of Whitehall, is long gone. With over 1,500 rooms, it was the largest palace in Europe, extending over 23 acres of Westminster – the area roughly bordered by Northumberland Avenue, Downing Street, Horse Guards Road to – what was then – the banks of the River Thames.

The palace gives its name to Whitehall, the road on which many UK government buildings are situated. Destroyed by fire in 1698, the only remaining palace building is the Banqueting House.