Adapted for the BBC from the award-winning novels by Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies chart 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.
Filming for the six-part drama took place entirely on location in the UK this summer, with six National Trust places in the South West taking centre stage.
- Montacute House, Somerset, situated in the south Somerset village of the same name, Montacute has been used for filming before – The Libertine and Sense and Sensibility. In Wolf Hall the Elizabethan mansion represents Greenwich Palace, Henry VIII’s main London seat and the site of Anne Boleyn’s arrest. Montacute’s extensive grounds provided a spectacular backdrop to jousting sequences and hosted the dazzling Royal Tent.
Mark Pybus, Producer of Wolf Hall said: “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 or some of the other Trust places we’re filming in.”
David Johnson, Location Manager said: “Montacute is fantastic, it’s probably the most beautiful house we’re filming in over 17 weeks. It has superb architecture, the rooms are fantastic, we’re able to site several scenes that take place in various palaces inside Montacute.”
- Barrington Court, Somerset, this rambling Tudor Manor house was saved from ruin and restored by the Lyle family in 1920s, when the court house resembled a barn rather than the proud manor house that it is. Free from collections and furniture the interiors were dressed for Wolf Hall as York Place/Whitehall, the home of Cromwell’s mentor and friend Cardinal Wolsey.
- Chastleton House, Oxfordshire was built by a rich wool merchant whose descendants later lost their wealth so could not afford to update the original building. For that reason Chastleton has remained an exceptionally well-preserved time capsule. Chastleton’s small stone courtyard provided the location for the dramatic scenes from Cromwell’s miserable childhood in Putney, while interiors represent Wolf Hall, the Seymour family seat and the place where Jane Seymour first catches Henry’s eye.
Chastleton House is open to the public from spring to autumn, and operates with timed tickets as visitor numbers are restricted.
- Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire, founded early in the 13th century by the Countess of Salisbury as a nunnery of the Augustinian order, Lacock is a prime site for film and television productions including Cranford, Harry Potter and The Other Boleyn Girl. Following the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII sold it to Sir William Sharington, one of his courtiers, who converted it into a house. In the drama the exteriors represent Wolf Hall, the Seymour family seat.
Lacock Abbey is open to the public year round and you can stay on location at number 2, High Street in Lacock.
- Great Chalfield Manor and Garden, Wiltshire, 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. A very popular location for filming, as seen in Lark Rise to Candleford, The Other Boleyn Girl, and Tess of the D’Urbervilles. 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.
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 spring through autumn.
- Horton Court, South Gloucestershire, built from the remains of a Norman Hall the interiors of this 16th century manor house, which isn’t open to the public, doubled up as Austin Friars, Cromwell’s home.
(Horton Court is not open to the public.)
Mark Pybus, Producer of Wolf Hall said: “The Trust have been very supportive and around 40% of our overall shoots have been at National Trust places so it’s a huge part of what we’re doing and will be a big part of the overall programme, the locations that people see.”
Location fees generate value 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 six locations, protecting their futures for everyone to enjoy.
Wolf Hall will air on BBC Two on 21 January 2015.