Sometimes the best way to film a scene for a television show or film is to shoot on location; CGI can only go so far. Besides, an organic, physical location or structure will always look better to the eye; which is why so many filmmakers are relying less on computer-generated visual effects and going back to using man-made sets and practical effects whenever they were feasible for the situation.
With the popularity of period pieces, rags to riches tails, and fantasy films increasing day by day, castles are often called upon to appear in many films. The following ten castles have been used in several films, and I’m sure you may even recognize a few of them by just looking at the pictures.
10. Alnwick Castle
No castle in the world has been used in film and television more than the Alnwick Castle. Located in Northumberland, England, this structure has been used as a filming location since the 1960’s for movies such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner as well as various popular British television shows, going back to Rowan Atkinson’s Black Adder and Down Town Abbey. Most of you probably remember it from as the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
9. Arundel Castle
The Arundel Castle, located in West Sussex, England, has been around since Christmas Day 1067. It’s a restored castle which serves as the current home of the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk. It was used in episodes of the classic Doctor Who series, as well as in the Academy Award winning film The Madness of King George among other films and series.
8. Bamburgh Castle
Bamburgh is another Northumberland, England Castle. Throughout its history it was the target of many raids from; the castle has been used as a filming location since the 1920’s, with notable films including Ivanhoe (Elizabeth Taylor) and El Cid (Charlton Heston), both of which were nominated for three Oscars. Most recently it was used in the films King Arthur starring Clive Owen and Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood film starring Russell Crowe.
7. Belvoir Castle
Belvoir castle is located in Leicestershire County, England. This castle is known for the extensive art collection it houses as well as for having served as the home for the Manners family for over five hundred years. A number of movies and television shows have been filmed here since the 1980’s, including The Da Vinci Code starring Tom Hanks and Young Sherlock Holmes.
6. Broughton Castle
The Broughton Castle is a medieval manor house, located near Banbury in Oxfordshire, England. Open to the public, this structure serves as the home of the Saye and Seele families; it hasn’t been used much since the 1990’s, but some of the more notable films included The Madness of King George starring Helen Mirren and Shakespeare in Love starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Some might remember it from Three Men and a Little Lady.
5. Dover Castle
Located in Kent, England, Dover Castle is a very popular tourist attraction owned by English Heritage. It’s been used in The Mind of Evil story-arc in the classic Doctor Who series and in a 1990’s adaptation of the classic The Wind in the Willows, featuring a number of Monty Python alumni. Most importantly, the castle was featured as the Tower of London in the film The Other Boleyn Girl starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson.
4. Eilean Donan Castle
The Eilean Donan Castle is located on a small island of the same name in Loch Duich, Scotland. The castle has been used as a set for films and television going all the way back to the 1940’s. One of the biggest films the castle was featured in was the Pierce Brosnan James Bond film The World Is Not Enough; also worth mentioning is the first installment of the popular Highlander series.
3. Castle Howard
Castle Howard is actually considered a stately home, despite its name. It has been used in film and television since the 1950’s, with Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon being filmed here; it’s also been featured as the titular Brideshead in a number of films based on the novel Brideshead Revisited.
2. Raglan Castle
Raglan Castle dates back to the 12th century. Although in ruin, what remains looks like something straight out of a fantasy novel. The castle has only been featured in a small number of projects, like Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits, the Led Zeppelin film The Song Remains the Same, and the popular Merlin BBC series.
1. Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is a very well preserved royal Palace located in Versailles, a suburb of Paris, France. It is known for being one of the most impressive achievements of 18th century French art and architecture. All three films the palace was featured in were highly acclaimed. Valmont starring Colin Firth and Annette Benning, Quills starring Kate Winslet and Joaquin Phoenix and Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette starring Kirsten Dunst.