When the BBC’s lavish drama ‘Wolf Hall’ hit the screen on Wednesday 21st January, eagle-eyed viewers may have spotted a record five National Trust places in the South West, including two locally, taking centre stage in this new six-part series.
Filming for ‘Wolf Hall’ took place entirely on location in the UK last summer, and it is adapted for the BBC from the award-winning novels by Hilary Mantel, ‘Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies’.
The drama charts the meteoric rise of Thomas Cromwell in the Tudor court, from his lowly start as a blacksmith’s son to Henry VIII’s closest advisor. Mark Rylance stars as Thomas Cromwell and Damian Lewis as Henry VIII, and ‘Wolf Hall’ can be viewed on BBC Two at 9.00pm.
The five National Trust places in the South West that feature in the drama are Montacute House and Barrington Court in Somerset, Lacock Abbey and Great Chalfield Manor and Garden, and Horton Court (not open to the public) in South Gloucestershire.
At Lacock Abbey in the drama ‘Wolf Hall’ the exteriors represent Wolf Hall, the Seymour family seat.
As is well know locally, Lacock is a prime site for film and television productions including ‘Cranford’, ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’.
The abbey was founded early in the thirteenth century by the Countess of Salisbury as a nunnery of the Augustinian order. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII sold Lacock to Sir William Sharington, one of his courtiers, who converted it into a house.
Lacock Abbey is open to the public all year round www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lacock
Great Chalfield Manor and Garden, situated on the outskirts of town, is a moated manor built between 1465 and 1480 for Thomas Tropenell, a modest member of the landed gentry who made his fortune as a clothier.
For ‘Wolf Hall’ the interiors stood in for Austin Friars, Thomas Cromwell’s home, a happy place teeming with in-laws and wards, nieces and nephews and abandoned wives. A very popular location for filming, it has also been seen in ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’, ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ and ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’.
Great Chalfield Manor and Garden is the home of Robert and Patsy Floyd who manage the house, gardens and farm for the National Trust. The house and garden are open to the public from April to the end of October on certain days each week.
Check details at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/great-chalfield-manor
Location fees generate valuable income for the special places the National Trust cares for, and thanks to ‘Wolf Hall’ the Trust will be able to continue its work at each of the these locations, protecting their futures for everyone to enjoy.
While filming on location at Montacute, producer Mark Pybus said, “When we first saw Montacute we were immediately excited about both the rooms and the beautiful grounds.
“The advantages of filming in a historic location are massive. It’s more expensive than filming in a studio or abroad, but you don’t get that sense of authenticity that you do in a building like Montacute. The National Trust has been very supportive and around 40% of our overall shoots have been at Trust places.
“It also helps the actors, they put on the costumes and if they’re then stepping into the buildings that Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell walked around themselves, it helps bring a realness to the project, which is something that’s very much at the heart of Hilary’s books.”
For behind the scenes images and video of Wolf Hall at National Trust places go to