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Thursday July 18th 2024

Gosford Park | 2001

Gosford Park film location: Wrotham Park, Barnet, Hertfordshire
Gosford Park film location: the country house: Wrotham Park, Barnet, Hertfordshire | Photograph: Bildarchiv Monheim GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Before Downton Abbey, there was Gosford Park. Julian Fellowes' Oscar-winning script paved the way for his hugely successful TV series, which in turn paved the way for Downton Abbey, the movie.

Rather than springing from the venerable tradition of immaculately staged British period whodunnits, Gosford Park was conceived and directed by Robert Altman – the American maverick who brought us Nashville, The Player and the original film of M*A*S*H.

'Gosford Park' itself, the fictitious estate of industrialist Sir William McCordle (Michael Gambon) and his wife Lady Sylvia (Kristin Scott Thomas) is largely Wrotham Park, on Barnet Road north of Barnet itself, in Hertfordshire.

The private house isn’t open to the public but it is available to hire as a conference/meeting space, and it’s frequently used as a filming location.

You’ve probably seen it as the secret training quarters in Kingsman: The Secret Service, as Jane's childhood home in Cary Joji Fukunaga's 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre (2011), one of the estates used for nefarious purposes in Guy Ritchie's 2019 The Gentlemen, 1991 John Goodman comedy King Ralph, along with Ken Russell’s 1986 fantasy Gothic, Kenneth Branagh’s 1992 drama Peter’s Friends and many others.

Apart from the exterior, Wrotham was used for the grand staircase and the downstairs rooms.

The out-of-view working parts of these grand houses have often been modernised, so the below-stairs servants' quarters were filmed on sets built at Shepperton Studios.

Gosford Park film location: Syon House, Syon Park, Isleworth, London
Gosford Park film location: the upstairs bedroom: Syon House, Syon Park, Isleworth, London | Photograph: Shutterstock / Paula French

Gosford's upstairs bedrooms were filmed in Syon House in Syon Park, the London home of the Duke of Northumberland. off the A4 between Brentford and Isleworth (tube/ rail: Gunnersbury Park).

The house is set in grounds landscaped by Capability Brown, on the north bank of the Thames eight miles west of Central London.

Another frequent film star, you can see more of its elegant rooms and corridors in 1994’s The Madness of King George, the 1996 film of Jane Austen's Emma, Joseph Losey’s 1967 Accident, Stanley Donen's original 1967 Bedazzled, King Ralph (yes, that filmed used a lot of houses), The Wings of the Dove and even The Avengers (the 1998 film of the Sixties TV series) and Transformers: The Last Knight.

The prologue, seeing the Dowager Countess of Trentham (Maggie Smith) leaving her home for the weekend at 'Gosford', is Hall Barn, Windsor End, south of Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire. A 17th century private house built for politician and poet Edmund Waller, the estate can also be seen in the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire and in the 1994 film of Black Beauty. It has also popped up in Downton Abbey (the TV series, not the film).

After the pheasant shoot, the pavilion where the party rests for lunch in Gosford's grounds is the 18th century Temple of Venus on Hall Barn's estate.

Hall Barn house isn’t open to the public and only its gatehouse is visible from the road, although it is sometimes possible to visit the gardens for special events.