It’s true that Cornwall contributes some pretty spectacular backdrops to the hit BBC One drama Poldark – you can check out our recent blog on Poldark filming locations around Cornwall if you’d like to find out more…. But did you know that a lot of the award-winning drama is filmed outside Cornwall?
In fact, Mammoth Screen (the production company) is based at South Bristol’s Bottle Yard Studios, which is perfectly situated for the other lovely period filming spots used in the series – with Bristol, Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire hitting the spotlight.
Now that the third season is over (and the nights are drawing in) we need something to help the Poldarkness. So here are our ‘good tidings’ on where to find the main Poldark locations outside Cornwall… as well as our nearby holiday cottages of course!
Poldark Locations in Bristol
In series three, some of the internal mine scenes were filmed at Redcliffe Caves. A major shoot took place here in November 2016, supported by Bristol Film Office. This complex network of 15th to 18th century tunnels, excavated for red sandstone to make glass, possess a vivid discolouration, providing the caves with an eerie atmosphere that can easily pose for a sci-fi or horror project. In fact, fans of Doctor Who and its spin-off, Class, will recognise the Redcliffe Caves for having appeared in both programmes. You can delve into Bristol’s spooky underbelly and explore the caves on a self-guided tour on Saturday September 9th 2017 between 10am and 4pm, as part of Bristol Doors Open Days. Be warned though – there’s no lighting in the caves so you’ll need a torch and some sturdy shoes. You can also arrange a guided tour at other times.
When Ross Poldark was tried in court, facing the hangman’s noose in series two, he was actually in The New Room in John Wesley’s Chapel in Broadmead. The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, built this chapel shortly after arriving in Bristol in 1739, which makes The New Room the oldest Methodist building in the world. It was also used as a meeting house, school and dispensary for medicine. The New Room is open from Monday to Saturday 10.30am to 4pm all year round. You can also enjoy free tours as part of Bristol Doors Open Days 2017 – drop in on September 7 – 9 between 11am and 4pm and Sunday 10th September between 11am and 4pm.
Poldark’s grimy prison scenes were filmed in Cornwall’s Bodmin Jail, as well as Bristol’s Colston Hall, whose cellars became Bodmin Jail where Ross is held in series two. You can take a free pre-bookable tour of the historic cellars, main hall and backstage areas on Sunday September 10th 2017 between 10am – 3.30pm, as part of Bristol Doors Open Days. The hall celebrates its 150th anniversary this year and is to undergo major renovations beginning in 2018, so this is one of your final chances to see them.
The Bottle Yard Studios in South Bristol provide the sets for some of the drama’s key interiors. These include Ross and Demelza’s home Nampara – the outside of which is in St Breward in Cornwall – and parts of Trenwith, George Warleggan’s house. Plus the Red Lion pub and a part of the mine. Construction, prop workshops and an extensive costume department are also situated on site. As a working studio, tours are not usually available, although Bristol Doors Open Days do provide an opportunity to tour the studios each September. Sadly for us they are already booked out for this year.
Bristol Doors Open Days (September 7 – 10 2017) is a once-a-year chance to look behind closed doors and discover the city’s hidden treasures. You can explore fascinating buildings, join guided tours and enjoy a range of events and activities – all free! With over 100 venues taking part this year join this fantastic celebration of Bristol’s history.
A major shoot took place on board the Tall Ship Kaskelot on Bristol’s Floating Harbour in November 2106, where a stunt man was used in the water. This three-masted barque is one of the largest remaining wooden ships in commission, and you can explore the Kaskelot during one of its open days when she’s in Bristol Harbour. Check the Tall Ship Kaskelot website for upcoming events.
Other Poldark venues in Bristol include Leigh Court, the setting for Sir Francis Basset’s Tehidy in series three. Some scenes in series two were filmed at Ashton Court and Blaise Castle Estates. And in the first series, Ashton Hill Woods were used for the battle scenes in Virginia.
If you want to make a ‘proper job’ of your next Bristol break, check out our holiday cottages nearby. Come and go as you please as you explore this delightful city of bridges, balloons, boats, Brunel, Banksy …and, of course BBC dramas!
Poldark Locations in Somerset
The market town of Frome on the eastern edge of the Mendip Hills made its Poldark debut in series two, doubling as Truro. Cobbled Gentle Street certainly reflects the period in which Poldark was set, and visitors will also recognise St John’s Church. Apart from its winding cobbled alleys and historic buildings, the beautiful town’s artisan and independent shops, thriving arts scene and monthly mini-festival are a real draw.
The Bishop’s Palace in Wells took centre stage in the third series. With its grand Chapel, vaulted rooms and ruins, it proved to be the ideal venue to feature as the deadly convent-come-prison. And it’s home to one of the biggest, most action-packed sequences of Poldark ever when Ross travels to France with friends in a daring attempt to rescue Dr. Dwight Enys.
Other parts of Wells used in the drama include the front of Wells Town Hall which was transformed into Warleggan Bank, and the Market Place, reached via a stone gateway, features as an 18th-century market. You can stock up at the farmers’ market in the cobbled square every Wednesday and Saturday. England’s smallest city is the jewel of the Mendips, set around Wells Cathedral. It is a wonderful place to while away a few hours and we have some lovely holiday cottages within an easy drive.
Sawle Church, the Poldark’s local church where Valentine Warleggan was christened in series three, is filmed at the Old Church of St Andrew in Holcombe near Midsomer Norton. Known locally as the ‘Plague Church’, it was once surrounded by the village but in 1348 the Black Death struck and the remaining villagers abandoned their homes and resettled higher up the hill. The nursery rhyme Ring a Ring o’ Roses is said to originate from Holcombe and the famous Antarctic explorer Captain Scott’s family burial is in the Church grounds. Drop by The Holcombe Inn nearby who are the keyholders of the Church if you wish to visit.
Poldark Locations in Wiltshire
In the first series, Corsham’s high street is used for Truro street scenes with the Town Hall exterior as the Truro Assembly Rooms. For the second and third series, the production team opted for Frome in Somerset.
Part of the Poldark action takes place at Killewarren, the home of Ray Penvenen and his niece Caroline. Great Chalfield Manor, a National Trust property near Bath, doubles up as Killewarren in series two and three. The manor was built by a wealthy businessman and is famous for its Arts & Crafts-style garden. In 1943, the manor was handed over to the National Trust and is still lived in by the original family, the Floyds. It appealed to the production team because of its feeling of warmth and domesticity which couldn’t be recreated in a studio. Entrance to the house is by guided tour only.
All Saints Chancel at Waterhay is featured as The Old Meeting House in the third series. Built around 1250, much of the original church was dismantled and moved half a mile south in 1896 to form a new church, leaving just the chancel and east gable of the old nave in the old churchyard which is now under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. It’s situated north of Leigh village on the edge of the Cotwold Water Park, less than ten minutes’ drive from our Cotswold Lake Lodges.
If you’ve been inspired to visit these Poldark locations in Wiltshire, you can ‘dreckly’ book one of our fantastic nearby holiday cottages, available for short breaks.
Poldark Locations in Gloucestershire
The interior and exterior of stunning Chavenage House near Tetbury feature as Trenwith, the Poldark mansion where Elizabeth resides. The interior of the chapel here also doubled for Sawle church. This historic Cotswold stone manor dates from Queen Elizabeth’s reign and visitors will recognise the Great Hall and the Oak Room. The crew changed the wallpaper, added period curtains and put up a 30-candle chandelier. It may seem familiar – many films and television programmes have been filmed here, including BBC’s Lark Rise to Candleford. Chavenage House has limited opening to the public during the summer months and is half an hour’s drive from our Gloucestershire holiday cottages.
Berkeley Castle was transformed into a guillotine-happy French port town for the third series. In series two, Bodmin Assembly Rooms were actually the drawing room here. It’s other claim to fame is that this is where King Edward II was imprisoned and murdered in 1327, before the Berkeley family reconstructed it in the late 12th century. They have lived here ever since. As well as the castle and the gardens, there’s a tropical butterfly house with 42 exotic species and the world’s largest moth.
In series three, George Warleggan’s Georgian Town House is filmed at Dyrham Park, a National Trust property in South Gloucestershire. This impressive 17th-century mansion, garden and deer park is set in 270 acres in the southern Cotswolds around 15 miles from Bath and Bristol respectively. Dyrham Park has featured in both Tess of the d’Urbervilles and the ‘90s film adaptation of Ishiguro’s novel, The Remains of the Day. If you’re inspired to take a break, our holiday cottages near Bristol, just 15 minutes’ drive away, are sure to get you in the Poldark mood.
Other Gloucestershire locations include Horton Court, a National Trust owned manor house near Chipping Sodbury. Originally a Norman hall, it doubles up as the Magistrates Court where Jim Carter was tried in series one, and is also used as the exterior of Sir Hugh Bodrugan’s home. It’s currently closed to the public due to restoration works. And the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester was transformed into the Cornish market place of Bodmin Square last November with stalls and a local pub. The college was built in 1845, making it the first agricultural college in the English-speaking world.