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Wednesday April 17th 2024

Shakespeare In Love | 1998

Shakespeare In Love location: Broughton Castle, Banbury, Oxfordshire
Shakespeare In Love location: The house of Viola: Broughton Castle, Banbury, Oxfordshire

Multi-Oscar winner, including Best Picture, as a hunky, young playwright William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) struggles to write Romeo and Ethel, The Pirate’s Daughter and aristocrat Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow) defies the convention of the times by wanting to act.

The ‘Rose Theatre’ is not, as many people seem to assume, the reconstructed Shakespeare's Globe, Bankside, but a studio set built for the movie. After filming, it was presented to Dame Judi Dench with an eye to restoring it as a working theatre.

The real Rose, where Shakespeare's earlier plays were first performed, was actually uncovered during building work in Southwark n London’s South Bank, in the late Eighties, and a massive campaign was launched to preserve it. The property developers eventually agreed to preserve the theatre in the basement of the new building.

The site is at Park Street, at the southern end of Southwark Bridge.

The closest you'll get to an authentic theatre of the period is Shakespeare's Globe where, for amazingly reasonable price, you can experience the plays in the environment for which they were intended. If your legs are sturdy, standing in the Yard, up close to the action, can be thrilling.

Shakespeare In Love location: Broughton Castle, Banbury, Oxfordshire
Shakespeare In Love location: Viola's window, where a balcony was added for the film: Broughton Castle, Banbury, Oxfordshire

Viola’s home, the ‘de Lesseps house’ is Broughton Castle, home of Lord and Lady Saye and Sele, two miles southwest of Banbury, Oxfordshire. The dance, where Will first meets Viola, is the house’s Great Hall, while it’s in the Oak Room that Lord Wessex (Colin Firth) informs Viola she is to be married.

Shakespeare In Love location: Broughton Castle, Banbury, Oxfordshire
Shakespeare In Love location: Viola's formal garden: Broughton Castle, Banbury, Oxfordshire

Viola’s bedroom is a studio set, but for the exterior, a false wooden balcony was built onto Broughton Castle, overlooking the formal gardens. The castle was also seen in The Madness of King George, the 2011 film of Jane Eyre, Joseph Andrews, Tony Richardson’s 1977 follow-up to Oscar-winner Tom Jones, Lady Jane (Trevor Nunn’s historical epic with Helena Bonham Carter as the tragic Lady Jane Grey), and Three Men and a Little Lady. It’s open to the public on various days between May and September.

Shakespeare In Love location: Middle Temple, Middle Temple Lane, London EC4
Shakespeare In Love location: the command performance: Middle Temple, Middle Temple Lane, London EC4

The command performance of Two Gentlemen of Verona for Queen Elizabeth (Judi Dench), in the ‘Banqueting Hall at the Palace of Whitehall’, is in the Great Hall of Middle Temple in London. This is part of the same complex where you'll find Temple Church, a location for The Da Vinci Code, and which was also used for an extensive chase sequence in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.

Shakespeare In Love location: Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Shakespeare In Love location: The ‘Greenwich’ fireworks party: Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire

The ‘Greenwich’ fireworks display, at which Viola meets the Queen, and Shakespeare accepts a bet in drag, used the rear of Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, north of London. Hatfield is seen in countless films, including Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes, Henry VIII and his Six Wives, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Mr Holmes, with Ian McKellen and Tim Burton’s Batman among many other films.

The riverside scenes were shot on the Thames at Barnes, west London.

Shakespeare In Love location: Church of St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, London
Shakespeare In Love location: Shakespeare begs forgiveness: Church of St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, London

The interior of the church, in which Shakespeare begs forgiveness after hearing about the murder of Kit Marlowe (Rupert Everett), is the Priory Church of St Bartholomew The Great, a tiny church – repository of the bones of St Rahere – tucked away behind Smithfield, London EC1.

You probably recognise this as ‘Nottingham Cathedral’ in the Kevin Costner romp Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, as the site of Mary Queen of Scots’ execution in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, or from the ending of Four Weddings and a Funeral. It also features in Neil Jordan's excellent The End Of The Affair, with Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore and in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes.

Incidentally, Smithfield was once the site of grisly executions – it was here that the real William Wallace (played by Mel Gibson in Braveheart) was hung, drawn and quartered.

Shakespeare In Love location: Eton College Quad, Eton, Berkshire
Shakespeare In Love location: Viola marries Wessex: Eton College Quad, Eton, Berkshire

The church exterior, after Viola’s wedding to Wessex, is the courtyard of Eton College in Berkshire – which also served as the exterior of the ‘Houses of Parliament’ in The Madness of King George, as ‘Cambridge University’ in Chariots Of Fire, and was another location featured in Henry VIII and his Six Wives.

More riverside scenes were shot in the grounds of Marble Hill House, Twickenham, southwest London.

Check out the original, witty and superior, ending on the DVD version. The spectacular beach of ‘Illyria’ at the end is Holkham Beach, part of the Holkham Hall estate, three miles west of Wells-next-the-Sea on the A149 on the north coast of Norfolk. The same beach is featured in Mark Romanek's 2010 film of the Kazuo Ishiguro novel Never Let Me Go, with Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley.