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Thursday December 13th 2018

Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves | 1991

Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves location: Wardour Castle, Wiltshire
Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves location: ‘Locksley Castle’ – before the attack: Wardour Castle, Wiltshire

Kevin Reynolds’ hyperactive extravaganza, famously using locations all over the UK, kicks off with Robin (Kevin Costner) arriving home from the Crusades on a beach overlooked by gleaming white cliffs. And where better than the Seven Sisters, on the East Sussex coast west of Eastbourne toward Cuckmore Haven? You can access the clifftop path from car parks at Exceat Barn and Birling Gap, or view the Sisters from Seaford Head. The same stretch of coast is seen again in Atonement.

From the coast, Robin’s trek north to his ‘Nottingham’ home (in central England) overshoots a little, to Northumberland, in fact. In no time at all, he’s giving directions to Azeem (Morgan Freeman) at Sycamore Gap, on Hadrian's Wall near to Housesteads Roman Fort. Now a World Heritage Site, Hadrian's Wall was built across the north of England by Roman invaders, to keep Picts (from modern-day Scotland) from raiding the northern outpost of their empire. Housesteads is on the B6318 about 25 miles west of Newcastle-on-Tyne (rail: Bardon Mill, 3 miles).

Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves location: Wardour Castle, Wiltshire
Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves location: ‘Locksley Castle’ – after the attack: Wardour Castle, Wiltshire

But it’s soon back south, to Wiltshire, for the ruin of ‘Locksley Castle’, Robin’s family home, which turns out to be Old Wardour Castle, off the A30, between Salisbury and Shaftesbury.

Wardour’s great advantage for the movie is that part of it was severely damaged during the Civil War and, depending on the angle from which it’s it’s seen, it can appear intact or totally wrecked.

Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves location:  Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire
Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves location: Robin fights Little John: Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire | Photograph: iStockphoto © Ron Strickland

Then north again, to North Yorkshire. The river, where Robin fights with Little John, is Aysgarth Falls, a series of broad limestone steps on the River Ure at Aysgarth, on the A684 about 25 miles west of Northallerton in the Pennines. The falls is also featured in the 1992 film of Wuthering Heights.

Robin Hood’s ‘Sherwood Forest’ camp was built closer to the film studio at Shepperton, about 50 yards from a public footpath in Burnham Beeches, off the A335, north of Slough, Buckinghamshire.

Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves location: Church of St Bartholomew, Smithfield, London EC1
Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves location: ‘Nottingham Castle’: Church of St Bartholomew, Smithfield, London EC1

Maid Marion (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) keeps her distance, though, at Hulne Priory, the ruins of a 13th century Carmelite monastery in Hulne Park, northwest of Alnwick on the A1 in Northumberland.

Close by is Alnwick Castle. The piggily villainous Bishop of Hereford (Harold Innocent) is popped out of the window to land in the courtyard of 12th century castle. Alnwick Castle is, of course, most famous for its appearance as ‘Hogwarts’ in the first Harry Potter films.

Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves location: Carcassonne, France
Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves location: ‘Nottingham Castle’: Carcassonne, France

‘Nottingham Castle square’ sat on the backlot at Shepperton Studio, though the castle itself – in longshot – is the fortified city of Carcassonne down in the south of France close to the Spanish border (the town is also seen in The Bride, Franc Roddam’s 1985 spin on The Bride of Frankenstein).

The interior of ‘Nottingham Cathedral’ is the Priory Church of St Bartholomew The Great, Smithfield, a small church – repository of the bones of St Rahere – tucked away behind Smithfield, London EC1, and frequently seen in films, including Four Weddings and a Funeral; Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes; Neil Jordan’s The End Of The Affair; Shakespeare in Love; The Other Boleyn Girl; and Elizabeth, The Golden Age.