The Crown Series 1 – 6 (2016-2023)

Actress Olivia Coleman as Queen Elizabeth II dressed in regimental uniform sitting on a black horse saluting. In the background is a crowd

Olivia Colman in The Crown (2020) © Netflix

Creator: Peter Morgan
Starring: Claire Foy, Olivia Colman, Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce, Lesley Manville, Elizabeth Debicki, Dominic West
Production Company: Left Bank Pictures, Sony Pictures Television
Kent Locations Used: The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Brompton Barracks, Cobham Hall, Lydd, Discovery Park, Rochester

The Crown (2016-2023) is a Netflix Original historical drama series focusing on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Based on real events, the series is a fictional dramatization of the political and personal events that shaped her reign.

Created by Peter Morgan (Rush (2013), The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)), The Crown was reportedly the most expensive series to be produced by Netflix when it first aired, estimated at £100 million.

In Series 1 – 2, Queen Elizabeth II is portrayed by Claire Foy (The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (2022), A Very British Scandal (2021)) followed by Olivia Colman in Series 3-4 (Landscapers (2021), The Favourite (2019)). Imelda Staunton (Flesh and Blood (2020), Vera Drake) took over the role in Series 5-6, supported by a host of stars including Jonathan Pryce (Wolf Hall (2015), The Two Popes) as Prince Philip, Lesley Manville (Harlots (2017), Mr Turner (2014)) as Princess Margaret, Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby, Widows) as Princess Diana and Dominic West (Genius (2016), Johnny English Reborn (2011)) as Prince Charles.

The Crown production team chose to visit Kent to film at The Historic Dockyard Chatham for Series 1 where they filmed a dockside scene on Anchor Wharf after building part of the side of a ship. The Historic Dockyard Chatham dates back to the 17th century and contains over 100 buildings from the Georgian and Victorian periods. It is a popular film location that has previously featured on screen in Suffragette (2015)Downton Abbey (2010-2013) and Les Miserables (2013).

In Series 4, production visited Brompton Barracks in Chatham, where they used the Parade Square and The Mall for scenes re-enacting Trooping the Colour at the Horse Guards Parade. Brompton Barracks is ideally suited as a location to double for iconic London landmarks with a large parade ground, vaulted cellars under the Officer’s Mess, statues, stone bridges, a museum, and a large ornate arch.

For Series 5, production revisited The Historic Dockyard Chatham where they filmed the Queen boarding a ship at Anchor Wharf. Filming also took place in the village of Lydd, at Hardy Hall and The Green, which was used to recreate Tony Blair, played by Bertie Carvel (Dalgliesh, Doctor Foster), and his family casting their votes in the 1997 General Election – a scene which sadly did not make the final cut. Production also visited Cobham Hall, which doubled as Eton College.

Production returned to Kent for Series 6, with filming taking place at Cobham Hall, which once again doubles for Eton College. A jogging scene was also filmed in a nearby private woodland and in Episode 4 Discovery Park features as the hospital in France where Princess Diana passed away. The wedding of Prince Charles (Dominic West) and Camilla (Olivia Williams) in Windsor was filmed outside Rochester Guildhall in the City Centre doubling for the registry office at Windsor Guildhall and the wedding procession.

Cobham Hall is a private school in a historic house which is located in 150 acres of Grade II listed parkland. Its features include a stunning ballroom, library, cobbled courtyards, formal gardens, water towers, modern classrooms and sport facilities, including a swimming pool. Previous productions to have filmed at Cobham Hall include Hetty Feather (2015-2020), High End Yaariyaan (2019) and Tulip Fever (2018).

Formerly the HQ for Pfizer in the UK, Discovery Park is a large office complex with science labs and warehouses. Recent productions to have filmed there include The Old Guard (2020), The Complex: Lockdown (2020) and Baptiste (2019).

Rochester City has the feel of a medieval market town, with Cathedral, castle ruins and unspoilt high street by the River Medway. Recent productions to have filmed there include Whitstable Pearl (2021-2022), Series 4 of Unforgotten (2021) and Big Boys Don’t Cry (2020).

The first series of The Crown (2016-2023) was released on Netflix on Friday 4th November 2016. All seasons are currently available to view on Netflix.

Series 6 of The Crown (2016-2023) will be released on Netflix in two parts. Part 1 will be released on Thursday 16th November 2023, with Part 2 following on Thursday 14th December 2023.

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


Unforgotten (2021)

Sanjeev Bhaskar as DI Sunny Khan and Nicola Walker as DCI Cassie Stuart stand in front of a rubbish dump. Bhaskar is wearing a black coat and a white shirt and Walker is wearing a red tweet jacket and navy and yellow checkered shirt.

Unforgotten Series 4 (2021) © ITV

Writer: Chris Lang
Director: Andy Wilson
Starring: Nicola Walker, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Sheila Hancock, Susan Lynch, Phaldut Sharma, Liz White, Andy Nyman, Clare Calbraith, Lucy Speed
Production company: Mainstreet Pictures
Kent Locations Used: Rochester City, Rochester Cathedral, Medway Rowing Club, Strood

Unforgotten (2021) is a murder mystery series set in London, that follows two detectives, DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker) and DI Sunny Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) as they investigate and attempt to unravel unsolved crimes. Series 4 kicks off with the discovery of a thirty-year-old corpse, the perfect cold case for the detectives to solve.

Series Four was once again written by award winning Chris Lang (Innocent, A Mother’s Son) and directed by Andy Wilson (Cracker). It stars Nicola Walker (Spooks, Four Weddings and a Funeral) as DCI Cassie Stuart and Sanjeev Bhaskar (Yesterday, Absolutely Anything) as DI Sunny Khan. Co-stars are set to include Sheila Hancock (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas), Susan Lynch (Killing Eve), Phaldut Sharma (EastEnders) and Andy Nyman (Judy).

Filming took place in historic Rochester City, featuring Rochester Cathedral. Another feature filmed in the city at the Royal Victoria & Bull Hotel was Last Orders (2002). Standing above the River Medway, in the centre of the city,  Rochester castle  has featured in Bollywood feature, Veer (2010) and the Dicken’s adaptation of The Mystery of Edwin Drood (2012).

The production also visited neighbouring Strood, across the River Medway, a popular location for those who enjoy water sports, fishing or even a boat trip along the river.

Series 4 of Unforgotten aired on ITV on Monday 22nd February 2021.

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


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 © BBC

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 Mystery of Edwin Drood (1993)

The Mystery of Edwin Drood movieposter 1993- close up reflection of a blurry face in the water, the figure of a man stood facing it. The Mystery of Edwin Drood movieposter written in red

The Mystery of Edwin Drood movieposter 1993 © A&E Home Video

Directed By: Timothy Forder

Written By: Charles Dickens (Novel) and Timothy Forder (Adaptation)

Starring:  Robert Powell, Gareth Arnold, Gemma Craven & Michelle Evans.

Production Company: First Standard Media

Kent Locations Used: Rochester Cathedral, Rochester

Famed as Dickens’ unfinished novel, the acclaimed author died in 1870 leaving the ending of the book a mystery forever.  Although both story and film are named for Edwin Drood, the narrative focuses on Drood’s uncle, choirmaster John Jasper, who is in love with his pupil Rosa Bud. Miss Bud is Edwin Drood’s fiancé, but she has also caught the eye of the hot tempered Neville Landless who arrives with his sister Helena. Landless and Drood take an instant dislike to one another just before Drood disappears under mysterious circumstances.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood was scheduled to be published in twelve monthly instalments, each costing one shilling. However Dickens’ died after the publication of the sixth instalment, leaving the story approximately half complete.

Much of the film is set in the fictional city of “Cloisterham”. Dickens was inspired by Rochester when writing many of his novels, including The Mystery of Edwin Drood, so it was only fitting for Director Timothy Forder to shoot the film in the great city itself.

Familiar Rochester sites will include Rochester Cathedral which doubled as Cloisterham Cathedral as well as Rochester Castle, which can be seen in the background of many shots. A row of Edwardian houses near the Cathedral called Minor Canon Row also appears in the film as Cloisterham streets. Famous actress Dame Sybil Thorndike lived at number 2 Minor Canon Row after growing up in Rochester City. Her final TV appearance was 6 years before her death in The Great Inimitable Mr Dickens, a story of the life of the author starring Anthony Hopkins.

Rochester Cathedral is of special significance regarding Charles Dickens. The author expressed a wish to be buried opposite the west front in the Castle moat which then formed part of the graveyard of St Nicholas Church. The spot is marked with a commemorative plaque and Dickens’s ghost is said to haunt the area. Inside the Cathedral, to the right of the Presbytery, by the magnificent Chapter room door, is another brass plaque memorial to Dickens. At 3pm on the last Sunday of the Summer during the Dickens festival held in early June each year, a garland of scarlet geraniums (his favourite flowers) are laid here during a service commemorating his life.

The city of Rochester is the home to many locations that feature in the classic Dickens novels. Chertsey’s Gate on Rochester High Street was the inspiration for Mr Jasper’s home in The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Topes Restaurant for the house of Mr Tope, the verger in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, where the character of Mr Datchery also stayed when visiting “Cloisterham”.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood also features in the Kent Film Office Dickens Trail which lauched in 2012: https://kentfilmoffice.co.uk/kent-movie-map/dickens-movie-trail/ 

The film was released in cinemas in 1993 and is now available to buy on DVD.

 

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