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From Downton Abbey to Pemberley, fictional homes you can visit and stay at in real life

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"I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley." - Elizabeth Bennet recalling why she fell for Mr Darcy in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

We'll admit it, we're not millionaires. And we're also not living in a 19th Century Jane Austen novel. So short of marrying a handsome, horse-galloping heir - à la Elizabeth Bennet - it's very unlikely we'll one day inherit a sumptuous country estate.

But we can at least ogle these sweeping abodes from the comfort of our TV screens. For Britain is packed with extraordinary stately homes, many of which have been used as film locations for everything from period dramas such as Great Expectations to Hollywood blockbusters like Batman and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Here are a few of our favourite fictional homes that you can visit and even stay at in real life, for a taste of movie set magic. You may not have Pemberley - but goddammit, you can don your bonnet and play at being Elizabeth for the day...

Visit Pemberley from Pride and Prejudice

Chatsworth House in Derbyshire

The 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley was shot at Chatsworth House and dreamy Derbyshire pad still has the bust of Mr Darcy, played by Matthew Macfadyen, as a souvenir from the project.

It's believed that when Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice in nearby Bakewell, she based her idea of Pemberley on Chatsworth.

Visitors to this imposing country bolthole in the heart of the Peak District can tour the hall or the grounds or stay at holiday cottages and hotels on the estate.



Visit Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle in Berkshire

The glorious Downton is, of course, Highclere Castle in real life. Downton creator Julian Fellowes is close friends with the castle's owners, the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, and had it in mind when he originally wrote the script for the hit ITV series.

It's open to visitors between 60 and 70 days a year, but also holds many special tours and charity events, as well as concerts and country fairs in the castle grounds throughout the year.

Countess Carnarvon says filming for the show, now in its fifth season, generally takes over the castle for around six months every year.

"Downton Abbey has become such a phenomenon," she said. "We just thought it was rather fun, the first series. We do end up watching it. All the ‘upstairs’ scenes are filmed here and ‘downstairs’ is filmed in Ealing so you know when you are watching they have walked down your staff stairs and then walked out onto the set in Ealing."



Visit Satis House in Great Expectations

Englefield Estate in Berkshire

This glorious Berkshire stately home, the seat of Newbury MP Richard Benyon, claimed its place on the silver screen in 2012 with the filming of 2012 Charles Dickens adaptation Great Expectations.

Film crews used exterior shots of Englefield to represent Satis House, the home of the reclusive Miss Havisham (played by Helena Bonham Carter in the film).

The Estate, a thriving community consisting of farmland, woodlands, residential and commercial properties, was also on the receiving end of the Hollywood treatment in 2004, when Woody Allen directed Oscar–nominated Scarlett Johansson in Match Point here.

Downton creator Julian Fellowes actually considered Englefield as a location for the hit series, before choosing Highclere Castle instead because it was "more substantial".



Visit Anna Karenina's summer residence

Hatfield House in Hertfordshire

It may comes as a surprise to learn that some scenes from the 2012 adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel were shot not in the heart of Russia but rather, in the gardens of this gorgeous English Jacobean house.

Filmmakers used the East Garden and maze at Hatfield House to shoot the summer residence of Anna Karenina, played by Keira Knightley.

Lord and Lady Salisbury, who own Hatfield House, are keen supporters of the arts, and their home has played host to a whole string of movie shoots over the years, including 2005's Batman Begins, Oscar hit The King's Speech in 2010 and My Week with Marilyn starring Michelle Williams.

From vintage fairs to prom nights, events take place in Hatfield Park throughout the year. There is usually a separate charge for entry to Hatfield House itself.



Stay at Frankenstein’s home

Oakley Court in Windsor

A Victorian Gothic mansion set on the banks of the River Thames, Oakley Court used to be located right next to Bray Studios. It's been used as a set for innumerable horror films over the years, including 1957's The Curse of Frankenstein, 1960's The Brides of Dracula and 1975 cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Formerly a private residence, it's now a four-star hotel surrounded by 35 acres of immaculately landscaped gardens. There's an indoor swimming pool and gym and an award-winning restaurant serving up French cuisine and fine wines. We doubt an old-school horror icon like Frankenstein would approve...



Stay at the house from Goldfinger

Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire

This luxury golf hotel in Buckinghamshire has always had a close relationship with Pinewood Studios, just four miles away. Perhaps the most famous scene to have been filmed here is the epic fight between Bond (Sean Connery) and Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) from the classic 1964 flick, in one of the best-known golf scenes in cinema history.

Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) was also filmed here, as was the mini-break scene from 2001 comedy Bridget Jones’s Diary with Hugh Grant, Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth.



Stay at the location for BBC's Bleak House

Luton Hoo Hotel in Hertfordshire

A whole ream of films and TV programmes have been shot at the picturesque Luton Hoo Hotel over the years, including scenes from Four Weddings and a Funeral, Enigma, Eyes Wide Shut, Inspector Morse, Nicholas Nickleby and Vanity Fair, to name but a few.

Surprisingly perhaps, the hall was also used to re-create the bustling 19th century streets of London in the 2005 BBC adaptation of Bleak House starring Gillian Anderson and Carey Mulligan.

Production crews used the hall's stables as a base to conjure up the turgid, frenetic atmosphere of the Dickensian capital.



Visit the house from Gulliver’s Travels

Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire

It's hardly surprising that Blenheim Palace, with its stunning tapestry of gardens and parkland, has been used as the set for a huge quota of Hollywood films over the years.

Most recently, the house was shrunk down to a fraction of its size to become the home of Lilliput's King in 2010 fantasy comedy Gulliver's Travels, starring Jack Black and Emily Blunt.

Emily Blunt had visited the palace before on location for 2008 biographical flick The Young Victoria. Other blockbusters to have filmed scenes at Blenheim in the past few decades include Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), The Avengers (1998) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).

Members of the public can tour Blenheim with a nose around the palace itself, the formal gardens, the park and the pleasure gardens - all open daily.



Visit Mansfield Park

Kenwood House in north London

Yes, Kenwood House is actually on Hampstead Heath in northwest London but its leafy surroundings and central location makes it hot property for country house sets on the big screen.

Stars from the 1999 adaptation of Mansfield Park saved on their taxi budget by filming a good chunk of the movie here - an apt move, perhaps, since Kenwood House was owned by Lord Mansfield in the 18th century.

Kenwood also featured in the 2007 Peter O'Toole movie Venus and you may recognise it as Julia Roberts' film movie set from the 1999 comedy Notting Hill.

This English heritage property has been recently refurbished and is open to group visits with an on-site restaurant and well-stocked art gallery.



Stay at the house from The Camomile Lawn

Broom Parc, Cornwall

Remember the 1992 TV adaptation of The Camomile Lawn starring Jennifer Ehle and Felicity Kendal? Well, Broom Parc is where it was set. This enticing white house boasts an enviable spot amid miles of unspoiled National Trust coastline on Cornwall's stunning Roseland Peninsular.

The house itself seems to loom up out of nowhere, with a lawn that rolls gently down to the coastal path, and beyond that nothing but sweeping sea views. The best thing is you can stay here for a very reasonable sum, with B&B rates starting from £48 a room.



Words: Anna Brech, Photos: Rex Features

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