Jane Austen’s tale of misguided matchmaking in the fictional village of Highbury, in early 19th-century England, is reimagined in a new film starring Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma, alongside Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy and Miranda Hart. Several historic English houses that feature in the film are open to the public for tours and tea: Firle Place in Lewes, in the South Downs national park, a Tudor stately home and garden remodelled in the 18th century; Wilton House and its parkland and rose gardens by the River Nadder in Salisbury; 16th-century Kingston Bagpuize house and gardens in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, which stood in as Lord Merton’s house in Downton Abbey; and Elizabethan Chavenage House in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, where parts of Poldark was also filmed. Also making several appearances as Highbury is the village of Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds, including the market square, its 16th- and 17th-century cottages, and the village hall.
Emma was written in the author’s cottage in Chawton, Hampshire, where she lived from 1809-1817. It’s now home to Jane Austen’s House Museum, a Grade-I listed 17th-century building, with letters, first editions of her book, the table where she wrote and other personal belongings.
• Released on 14 February
The Secret Garden
Based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden is being adapted for the big screen once more for 2020, following several adaptations since it was first published in 1911. Set in North Yorkshire at the turn of the 20th century, it’s the story of disagreeable 10-year-old orphan Mary Lennox, who is sent to live with her uncle in brooding Misselthwaite Manor. Her discovery of a hidden garden helps transform her attitude and the lives of those around her.
The garden scenes in the 2020 film, with Colin Firth and Julie Walters among the cast, is a composite of several gardens around the UK. The best-known in Yorkshire is Duncombe Park near Helmsley, on the edge of the North York Moors. It has 450 acres of woodland, scented gardens and a national nature reserve home to ancient trees, and rare insects and birds. Also seeing significant screen time are the sub-tropical Trebah Gardens on the south Cornwall coast; Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire and Grade-I listed 19th-century Iford Manor and gardens in Bradford-on-Avon. National Trust locations to keep an eye out for include ruined Fountains Abbey, close to Ripon in North Yorkshire, the Italian-style terraced Bodnant Garden near Colwyn Bay in north Wales; and the Georgian estate of Osterley Park in west London.
• Released on 13 April
Last Night in Soho
Director Edgar Wright has described his nostalgia for an era he never knew when discussing his new psychological horror, Last Night in Soho. It stars Thomasin McKenzie, Matt Smith and Anya Taylor-Joy, and from what has been seen during filming in London so far, is likely to be set in two eras: modern day and 1960s London.
Almost everything about it, including locations, is being kept under wraps. However, filming has been papped in London’s Soho – around Greek Street, Berwick Street, Old Compton Street, Carnaby Street and Carlisle Street. One scene saw Smith and Taylor-Joy dashing out of retro nightclub Café de Paris on Haymarket.
Some unusual posters have also been spotted in Bateman’s Buildings, an alley that runs south from Soho Square, including misspelt names of iconic 1960s musicians and incorrect corresponding tour dates – causing a stir online. Further shots of fictional venues are also surfacing, including a jazz and blues club called Creeper Lounge. Real-life venue Ain’t Nothin But The Blues Bar on Kingly Street could recreate that vintage musical spirit, or classic basement club Ronnie Scott’s, which opened in 1959 on Frith Street.
• Released on 18 September
Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan star in a new romantic drama directed by Francis Lee, set on the Dorset coast in the 19th century. Based on the life of fossil hunter and palaeontologist Mary Anning, it tells of her love affair with Charlotte Murchison – inspired by real-life characters, but not based on any evidence of events.
Dorset’s Jurassic Coast will feature heavily, particularly Anning’s home town of Lyme Regis. The Bell Cliff area of town, on the seafront and close to the South West Coastal Path, had cobbles added and shopfronts stripped back to create an 1840s street. A traditional sailing ship, the Irene, was moored in Lyme Regis harbour – it offers sailing holidays in various locations around the UK (from £445pp for three nights). Colourful Coombe Street also features. Elsewhere, beach locations include peaceful Eype, which offers views along the coast from the peak of Golden Cap; Hive beach in Burton Bradstock, where fossils can be found in the limestone boulders; and Charmouth beach, a pretty, unspoiled stretch close to the village and another top fossil-hunting spot.
Visitors today can find out more about fossils and fossil walking routes at the Lyme Regis museum, Dinosaurland Fossil museum (also in Lyme Regis), and the Etches Collection Museum of Jurassic Marine Life in Kimmeridge.
Also featuring in the film are Hampton Estate in the Surrey Hills area of outstanding natural beauty; Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent; the Georgian Fitzroy Square in London’s Fitzrovia, and the British Museum in Bloomsbury.
• Release date 2020 TBC
Set in postwar England, a new comedy based on the 1941 Noël Coward play stars Dan Stevens, Isla Fisher, Leslie Mann and Emilia Fox, with Judi Dench as Madame Arcati, an eccentric medium who holds a séance for a writer and accidentally summons the spirit of his first wife.
The film features Grade-II-listed modernist country house Joldwynds in Holmbury St Mary, Surrey, which was built in the 1930s. It was designed by architect Oliver Hill and was previously used as a location for two episodes of ITV’s drama series Agatha Christie’s Poirot. Also appearing are several National Trust locations: 17th-century Cliveden house and gardens in Taplow, Berkshire; Seaford Head nature reserve in East Sussex; and the white cliffs of Cuckmere Haven, where Atonement was also filmed.
Richmond Theatre is also said to appear in the film, which is the location of a short-run, live performance of the play in February, starring Jennifer Saunders.
Coward wrote Blithe Spirit at 17th-century Goldenhurst Farm in near Ashford in Kent, his home at the time. It’s now the home of comedian Julian Clary and is not open to the public. The nearest village to the house, Aldington, is in the North Downs area of outstanding natural beauty, and close to the North Downs Way national trail.
• Released 1 May
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