The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012)

Matthew Rhys, Tamzin Merchant & Freddie Fox all staring into the camera against a black background

The Mystery of Edwin Drood featuring Matthew Rhys, Tamzin Merchant & Freddie Fox

Directed By: Diarmuid Lawrence

Written By: Charles Dickens (Novel) & Gwyneth Hughes (Adaptation)

Starring: Matthew Rhys, Tamzin Merchant & Freddie Fox

Production Companies: BBC, Masterpiece

Kent Locations Used:  Eastgate House, Rochester Cathedral, Riverside Country Park

A new two part drama from the BBC aims to solve The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Dickens’ final and incomplete novel has been subject to many adaptations over the years, with various endings that guessed at what the great author intended. In the style of a psychological thriller penned by Gwyneth Hughes (Five Days, Miss Austen Regrets), this latest BBC adaptation focusses on choirmaster John Jasper’s (Matthew Rhys-Brothers and Sisters) obsession with his student, 17 year old Rosa Bud (Tamzin Merchant-Jane Eyre).

Rather than resolve his frustrated ambition and leave the stifling environment of his home city, Cloisterham, Jasper resorts to taking opium. As the drug slowly fractures his mind, he develops a murderous hatred for his nephew, Rosa’s love interest, Edwin Drood (Freddie Fox- Worried about the Boy).

A darker and more gripping adaptation than previously seen, the series is part of the BBC’s Dickens celebrations  of the bicentenary of his birth in 2012. Another BBC project is the new adaptation of Great Expectations.

Earlier in 2011, the production crew and cast arrived in Rochester to film scenes for the drama. Eastgate House, an Elizabethan mansion on Rochester High Street features in both the unfinished novel and the BBC adaptation. Formerly The Dickens Centre when it housed a Dickensian exhibition, it is now undergoing a £5M development programme which includes the restoration of the writer’s Swiss Chalet, a gift from lifelong friend John Forster for Dickens’ home at Gad’s Hill Place in Higham, where he worked also on his last and unfinished novel.

The misty marsh scenes at Riverside Country Park, which is in Medway and is a beautiful country park set over 100 hectares. There are many various habitats within the park, including mudflats, salt marsh, ponds and grassland, which provide a haven for wildlife.

Eastgate House was a the model for Westgate House in Pickwick Papers (1836) as well as the nuns’ house “a seminary for young ladies” in The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870).

The site of Rochester Cathedral was also used in the production. Featuring in both the novel and the 1993 adaptation of The Mystery of Edwin Drood starring Robert Powell, the location has strong links to Dickens.  A memorial plaque can be found inside the Cathedral commemorating Dickens and a annual memorial service is held there during the Dickens Festival.

As the author’s spiritual home and the location for many of his stories, Rochester was the ideal place to film the drama. Some of his most famous characters lived in or visited the city, from Mr Micawber in David Copperfield, to Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, when Dickens found inspiration for “Satis House” at Restoration House in Rochester.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood was shown on Tuesday 10 January 2012 9.00-10.00pm on BBC TWO and is now available to buy on DVD.


For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map. 

The Crimson Petal and The White (2011)


Romola Garai smiling away from the camera in a dark dress, two candles sit in front of her.

Romola Garai The Crimson Petal and The White @ BBC


A four-part adaptation of Michel Faber’s international best-selling novel about Victorian Life.

Starring: Romola Garai, Chris O’Dowd, Gillian Anderson, Richard E Grant, Shirley Henderson, Amanda Hale and Mark Gatiss.

Production Company: Origin Pictures, Cité-Amérique

Kent Filming Locations: Eastgate HouseThe Historic Dockyard Chatham

In this four-part tale of love, lust, desire and rage, Victorian life is revealed in a way never seen before on screen.

The tale takes viewers into a hidden world in which a young prostitute and a prominent businessman embark on a dangerous relationship with epic consequences.

This version of Michel Faber’s novel, The Crimson Petal and The White, has been adapted by acclaimed playwright and screenwriter Lucinda Coxon (Wild Target, The Danish Girl) and directed by Marc Munden (Touching Evil, Utopia).

The four part series stars; Romola Garai (Atonement, Suffragette), Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids, This Is 40), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, The Fall), Richard E Grant (Withnail & I Downton Abbey), Shirley Henderson (Trainspotting, Bridget Jones’s Diary), Amanda Hale (Bright Star, Persuasion) and Mark Gatiss (Match Point, Sherlock).

The production visited Kent where they filmed on location at The Historic Dockyard Chatham and Eastgate House in Rochester.

The Historic Dockyard Chatham is a popular filming location in Kent due to its authentic period backdrops, including cobbled streets and Georgian as well as Victorian architecture. Victor Frankenstein (2015)Grantchester (2014), and The Golden Compass (2007) have previously filmed at The Historic Dockyard Chatham.

Eastgate House, situated on Rochester High Street, was formerly a large private town house. Built by Sir Peter Buck; it has now been restored and is owned by Medway Council. Productions such as Jekyll and Hyde (2015),  BBC’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012) and Great Expectations (1989) have previously filmed in Rochester.

The Crimson Petal and The White will be shown on BBC Two on Wednesday 6th April at 21.00 

For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map. 

Dickens Secret Lover (2008)

David Haig and Amy Shiels in period costumes. David looking up to the ceiling and Amy is behind looking at him

David Haig as Dickens and Amy Shiels as Nelly © Channel 4

Director: Sarah Aspinall

Writer: Jim Barton

Production Company:  Flame Television Production Ltd.

Kent Filming Locations: Charles Dickens Chalet at Eastgate House Rochester and Theatre Royal Margate.

Dickens’ Secret Lover is screening on Channel 4 as part of their Victorian Passions season, examining Charles Dickens’ private life. The programme reveals the secret life of the literary giant,  in which he abandons his wife for a long lasting affair with a very young actress.

Charles Dance sat on a chair facing the camera. Colourful curtains are behind him.

Charles Dance presenting Dickens

The programme is presented by Charles Dance, an actor who was seen most recently in the BBC adaptation of Bleak House as the callous Tulkinghorn. Dance takes on the role of detective in this drama-documentary, questioning five Dickens’ experts on how the affair affected his writing and his public character of a virtuous Victorian. Key scenes are dramatised to give the viewer a more in depth understanding of Dickens (played by David Haig) and his secret life with actress Nelly, played by Amy Shiels.

Charles Dickens’ is arguably Kent’s most famous author, having lived both at Gad’s Hill in Higham and at Broadstairs in Bleak House, Kent is understandably rich in historical links to the author. Many of his novels were penned here and many of the locations used in his novels echo real life locations in Kent. For example Westgate House in the Pickwick Papers is widely reported to be based on Eastgate House in Rochester.

The programme filmed on location both at Rochester in Charles Dickens’ Chalet at Eastgate House in Rochester and the  Theatre Royal in Margate.

The Swiss Chalet, a present from a French actor to Dickens, was originally constructed in the grounds of his home at Gad’s Hill before moving to Cobham Hall in Gravesham, where the recent BBC series Bleak House was filmed. Nowadays, the Chalet can be seen in the garden at Eastgate house in Rochester.

Exterior shot of Eastgate House - red brick building with black windows

Eastgate House © Medway Council

The Theatre Royal in Margate was chosen because  the crew wanted to visit locations that Dickens was passionate about. A performer himself, he frequently read his works to the public throughout the UK, and of course in Kent.

Eastgate House, situated in Rochester was formerly a large private town house. Built by Sir Peter Buck; it has now been restored and is owned by Medway Council. Productions such as Jekyll and Hyde (2015),  BBC’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012) and Great Expectations (1989) have previously filmed in the Rochester area.

The Theatre Royal is situated in the heart of Margate which is a vibrant seaside resort, with complementary historic and modern architecture. Margate has welcomed other productions including The Apprentice (2015), Last Orders (2002) and Only Fools and Horses: The Jolly Boys’ Outing (1989).

In 2012 England will celebrating the bicentenary of his birth.

Dickens’ Secret Lover will be shown on Channel 4 at 9pm on the 16th June 2008.

For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map.