13 Derbyshire-based lockdown films you can watch at home
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We take a look at famous films with strong Derbyshire connections – and how to view them
Streaming services will once again be in high demand throughout November as the nation retreats indoors for a second lockdown. With cinemas shut, housebound film fans will be turning to Amazon, Sky and Netflix among others to keep them entertained, so what better time than now to check out Derbyshire’s contribution to the screen world.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
The beloved Jane Austen novel has always had a firm footing in Derbyshire with Chatsworth House cited as the possible inspiration for Mr Darcy’s stately mansion of Pemberley. Austen travelled north to visit Derbyshire prior to writing Pride and Prejudice, staying at the Rutland Arms in Bakewell in 1811.
It’s this trip that probably prompted her to write the line there is ‘no finer county in England than Derbyshire’ in Pride and Prejudice.
The best-known film adaptation was made in 2005 starring Kiera Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen as Darcy. It used Chatsworth House as Pemberley and the Painted Hall and Sculpture Gallery both feature in the production, as well as Chatsworth’s exteriors.
Joe Wright’s film is notable for taking much of the action away from the stuffy interiors of previous adaptations and staging key scenes such as Darcy’s proposal in the great outdoors. This also had the benefit of putting more of Derbyshire on view.
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Look out for the village of Edensor, North Lees Hall, Haddon Hall (disguised at the Inn at Lambton) and some stunning shots of the Peak District including the iconic image from the film of Knightley braced against the wind on Stanage Edge.
The 1995 TV series, starring Colin Firth as Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth, is also still immensely popular but surprisingly chose not to use Chatsworth as Pemberley instead opting for Lyme Park as the grounds of Darcy’s home, with Firth famously taking a swim in the lake and becoming an instant heartthrob the moment he walked out of the water in his drenched shirt and breeches. The interiors of Darcy’s home were filmed in the south of Derbyshire at Sudbury Hall. The house’s Long Gallery and the Main Hall and staircase feature prominently (Pride and Prejudice (2005) – Amazon/Google Play/Youtube / Pride and Prejudice (1995) – Rent on Amazon, watch on Netflix)
Charlotte Bronte’s seminal novel was written in 1847 after she made a visit to North Lees Hall in Derbyshire, which provided the inspiration for the book’s Thornfield Hall, whilst the village of Morton is believed to be based on Hathersage. There have been more than two dozen movie versions of the book going back to the silent era, with many film-makers coming to Derbyshire to capture the flavour of Bronte’s story. Three in particular make good use of the county’s locations.
The 1996 film version directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsbourg used Haddon Hall for Thornfield before it dramatically burns down and Wingfield Manor to depict it after the fire. (Amazon/Google Play/Apple TV/Youtube)
The 2006 TV series starring Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson used different Derbyshire locations. Rochester meets Jane in a scene at Dovedale, while the Lowood School scenes were filmed at Ilam. Kedleston and Sudbury Hall were also used as locations. (Amazon/Britbox)
The 2011 film featuring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska also used Haddon as Thornfield Hall – although the gardens where Rochester first meets Jane are actually at Chatsworth. This film makes good use of the Derbyshire moors and you can see Stanage Edge and scenes around Hathersage. For Thornfield after the fire it again uses Wingfield Manor. Longshaw is used for several shots and also clearly visible are Froggatt, Darley Dale and North Lees Hall. (Amazon/Google Play/Apple TV/Youtube)
THE DUCHESS (2008)
This chronicle of the turbulent life of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, stars Kiera Knightley and saw the likes of Ralph Fiennes and Charlotte Rampling descend on Kedleston Hall, which was a major shooting location, as well as a base for the film crew. A banquet scene where Georgiana’s hair catches fire was filmed in the Marble Hall at Kedleston, as were the interiors of what was supposed to be Devonshire House. The Devonshire’s had a rented house in Bath but the entrance hall was also actually Kedleston, which provided a stand-in for the library at Althorp as well. Chatsworth and Edensor were also used as locations in the film. (Amazon (included in Prime)/Sky Store/BFI Player)
GOODBYE MR CHIPS (1939)
This Hollywood classic made by MGM and starring Robert Donat in an Oscar-winning performance as the titular teacher has brought lasting celluloid fame to Repton School. Repton stands in for the fictional Brookfield of James Hilton’s novel. The school must have welcomed the opportunity to take part in this glamorous production because although it was filmed during the school holidays, hundreds of boys stayed on to play extras in key scenes. The film opens with a view of St Wystan’s Church, before a tracking shot takes audiences over the school buildings and beyond the entrance gate. We then see boys flocking back to school for the start of a new term. Repton’s cricket pitch provides the backdrop for a key scene and the Brookfield school song was recorded at a Repton assembly and is played over the end credits. The only exterior shots in the entire movie were filmed at Repton, the rest of the film was made on studio sets. (Rent on Amazon or buy the DVD from Amazon)
THE DAM BUSTERS (1955)
Sir Barnes Neville Wallis, the scientist and engineer who developed the famous bouncing bomb, was born in Ripley. He was played by Michael Redgrave in the 1955 film which famously depicted the daring raid on dams in the Ruhr region of Germany during the Second World War. RAF 617 Squadron, led by Guy Gibson (played by Richard Todd) had to perfect low-level flying so they could bounce bombs off the water and plant them up against the dam walls. The squadron practised for the raid in Derbyshire using the dams of the Upper Derwent Valley. The heroics of the bombing crews were immortalised in the film and the practice flights were recreated at the Derwent, Ladybower and Howden Reservoirs. (Amazon/Sky Store)
THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987)
This fairytale has become a cult classic. A battle for true love in the mythical kingdom of Florin, it is based on a William Goldman novel. It was shot in 1986 on locations in England and Ireland. Several memorable moments take place in Derbyshire including the ‘Battle of the Wits’ scene which was filmed in Lathkill Dale. Westley (played by Cary Elwes) was ‘unmasked’ at Cave Dale, Castleton, and he fights Andre the Giant at Robin Hood’s Stride, near Birchover. Birchover also provided the setting for Buttercup’s Farm. (Amazon/Google Play/Apple TV/Sky Store)
THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL (2008)
Philippa Gregory’s novel about court intrigue at the time of Henry VIII was adapted in lavish fashion in 2008 with Eric Bana as the King, Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn and Scarlett Johansson as her sister Mary. From 1462 to 1539 the seat of the Boleyn family was Hever Castle in Kent but the interiors were actually filmed at Haddon Hall with several outside locations in the Peak District also used. (Amazon/Google Play/Sky Store)
OTHER FILMS WITH STRONG DERBYSHIRE CONNECTIONS
Dead Man’s Shoes (2004) – Uttoxeter director Shane Meadows’ brooding revenge drama would have made the must-see list above if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s not on any streaming service currently so if you want to watch it at present then it’s DVD only. It stars Burton actor Paddy Considine and is filmed exclusively in Derbyshire including scenes at Riber Castle, Bonsall, Tansley and Matlock. (Buy on DVD)
Pin Cushion (2018) – A mother-daughter tale that marked the feature debut of writer-director Deborah Haywood. It’s no coincidence that Swadlincote and Church Gresley should play such a prominent part in the movie as that is where Haywood grew up and these were the places she envisaged whilst writing the script. The film crew set up base in Gresley Old Hall and began a four-week shoot that included filming at Pingle School, where Deborah was once a pupil. (Amazon/Apple TV/BFI player)
Elizabeth (1998) – This star-studded and well-received historical drama features Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth 1 and is one of many movies to use Haddon Hall as a key location. (Amazon/Apple TV/Google Play/Sky Store/YouTube)
The Damned United (2009) – David Peace’s best-selling account of former Derby County manager Brian Clough’s turbulent short spell at Leeds United had to go to Chesterfield’s old Saltergate ground to find the terraces and outside toilet blocks of 1970s football. Filming also took place in Derby in streets around the old Baseball Ground. (Amazon/BBC iPlayer/Google Play/Apple TV/Sky Store)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) - The money-spinning series of films based on JK Rowling’s books have one prominent Derbyshire connection. Hardwick Hall, constructed by Bess of Hardwick in the 1590s, stands in for Malfoy Manor. Swooping exterior shots were filmed from a helicopter while interiors were recreated back at the studio. (Sky Movies/Amazon/Now TV/Google Play)
Women in Love (1969) -This celebrated adaption of the DH Lawrence book is again sadly not available currently on any streaming service. Which is a great pity as it not only features Derby’s finest acting son, Alan Bates, but also many Derbyshire locations including Matlock, Belper and the lake at Elvaston Castle. Kedleston Hall was also used for interior and exterior scenes. (Buy on DVD)