Next month, on June 24th 2009, it will be exactly 500 years since Henry VIII ascended to the British throne, which makes Dr David Starkey’s new TV series Henry VIII:Mind of a Tyrant timely indeed. Being widely recognised as the nation’s favourite Tudor expert, as well as Kent’s very own ‘local’ historian, Dr Starkey finally turns his critical eye upon Henry himself. His previous excursions into the monarch’s life concentrated largely on the etiquette of his court, his many wives, and the daughter who eventually succeeded him.
In this four-part biography, the focus is on how childhood events and familial relationships shaped the personality of the young prince, who took over the reign at only seventeen. It coincides with the release of Dr Starkey’s book, Henry: Virtuous Prince, in paperback and an exhibition Henry VIII: Man and Monarch, which he guest-curated for the British Library.
Rich in Tudor history, Kent was the perfect place to record some of the visuals for the series. Among others, Penshurst Place, with its strong Tudor connections, featured both in its own right, as well as being used as a backdrop for some of the drama elements in the series. Also, look out for the jousting at Cowden!
‘Henry VIII: Mind of a Tyrant’ starts on Channel 4 on Monday 6th April 2009 at 9pm; ‘Henry: Virtuous Prince’ is published by Harper Perennial; ‘Henry VIII: Man and Monarch’ opens at the British Library on 23 April 2009.
Following the popular series Supersizers Go –Giles Goran and Sue Perkins return with their new series looking at eating habits through the ages. This time round, the eighties, the fifties and the middle ages are on the menu.
In Supersizers Eat-Medieval, the duo visit Penshurst Place to sample dishes from the period, such as a cockatrice, in the atmospheric Barons Hall. To amuse the guest whilst eating, fire breathers and contortionists were on hand to ensure that there was never a dull moment! As well as sampling the culinary delights of the Middle Ages, Sue and Giles will also partake in activities fitting the era, including falconry, setting out on a pilgrimage and venturing to become a knight.
Merlin was filmed mostly in a studio with Penshurst Place one of only three locations chosen to film on location where the production company Shine visited the unique Baron’s Hall with it’s awe-inspiring height and courtly atmosphere.
Chislehurst Cavesfeatures in episode 3, series one for underground scenes where Arthur and Merlin battle the water beast.
The screen adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s best selling novel The Other Boleyn Girl is a dramatic story of love, passion and ambition set in the cut-throat court of Henry VIII. Mary (Scarlett Johansson), considered the more beautiful sister, gains the young king’s (Eric Bana) attention and, though married, becomes his mistress. When it becomes politically adventageous, Mary is cast aside for her dazzling young sister Anne (Natalie Portman) and can only watch as Anne’s ruthless pursuit of the crown propels her towards her doom.
The Boleyn family had extensive connections with Kent; the family lived in Hever Castle while Henry VIII adored Knole. With this connection in mind, filming took place at three fantastic locations across Kent.
Filming in Kent began atKnole in Sevenoaks, a grand house set in a deer park that Henry VIII was so impressed with; he demanded that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer give it to him. In the film, Knolewas the setting for many of the film’s London night scenes and the inner courtyard doubles for the entrance of Whitehall Palace where the grand arrivals and departures were staged.
Production then moved to Penshurst Place near Tonbridge, which was also once owned by Henry VIII and where the unspoiled estate and gardens still bring the Tudor era to life. The Baron’s Hall was transformed into the interiors of Whitehall Palace to film the scenes of Henry’s extravagant feast. The Tudor Gardens were also used for the scene where Anne (Natalie Portman) and the King (Eric Bana) talk about their relationship.
As England’s oldest fortress at the shortest sea crossing to Continental Europe, Dover Castle was a vital strategic centre in the Tudor era and able to provide the ideal setting for the final and climatic scenes in The Other Boleyn Girl. Dover Castle was transformed into the Tower of London for the execution scenes of George Boleyn (Jim Sturgess) and Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman).
To celebrate the cinematic release and the locations that were used in the film, the Kent Film Office and Kent Tourism Alliance in association with Universal, National Trust, English Heritage, Penshurst Place, Hever Castle and the Heart of Kent released a movie map in 2011 to highlight the Kent locations to the world! You can download your own The Other Boleyn Girl movie map and to find out more about the Kent Campaign at: https://kentfilmoffice.co.uk/kent-movie-map/austens-in-kent/
The Other Boleyn Girl features in the Kent Film Office Tudor(ish) Trail, released in May 2016, celebrating Kent’s Tudor history and film connections.
The film was released on 7th March 2008 and is now available on DVD.
This feature film is set in 1645 at the end of the English Civil War. The rebel New Model Army has defeated the Royalist forces of King Charles I and Lord Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell emerge as heroes. Now the pair seeks to reform the crown and execute the King which leads to civil unrest.
Starring in this gripping historical drama is Tim Roth(Lie to Me, United Passions, Skellig), Dougray Scott(There Be Dragons, Doctor Who, Sinbad), Rupert Everett(Shrek, St Trinian’s, Stardust), Olivia Williams(Anna Karenina, Justin and the Knights of Valour, Sabotage) and Corin Redgrave(Spooks, Foyle’s War, The Trial of King Killers).
The production visited Kent to film at Penshurst Place where the interiors doubled as Cromwell’s living quarters. Dover Castle doubled as The Tower of London and the castle’s tunnels were also used in the scene where Fairfax and Cromwell search for the king’s missing gold.
The Gathering is a supernatural thriller about Cassie, a young woman who forgets her identity after a car accident. As a mysterious, buried First Century church is uncovered, a dark history regarding some of the townspeople is revealed. Cassie begins to have premonitions of people whose lives are in danger and as events unfold, she realises who she really is.
The film stars Christina Ricci (The Ice Storm, Sleepy Hollow), Stephen Dillane (Spy Game, King Arthur), Robert Hardy (Frankenstein, Sense and Sensibility), Ioan Gruffudd (Black Hawk Down, Fantastic 4 Franchise), Harry Forrester (The Bill) and Kerry Fox (Shallow Grave, Bright Stair).
The Barons Hall at Penshurst Placeprovided the location for the scenes wherethe Bishop held meetings with the clergy.
Penshurst Placeis a beautiful medieval estate with a history spanning nearly 700 years. It is popular with the visiting public due to the dedicated conservation of the rooms and its beautifully maintained gardens. The vast home and grounds have previously welcomed productions such as Henry V (2012), The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) and BBC’s Merlin (2008).
The Gathering was released in January 2003 and is now available to buy on DVD.
The Others is a supernatural thriller set in Jersey after the Second World War about a woman who lives in a darkened old house with her two photosensitive children and becomes convinced it is haunted.
The film features Nicole Kidman (The Golden Compass, Moulin Rouge), Fionnula Flanagan (Four Brothers, Tears of the Sun), Christopher Eccleston (Elizabeth, The Invisible Circus), Alakina Mann (Girl With the Pearl Earring), James Bentley (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Imperium: Nero) and Eric Sykes (Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire).
Covington Cross is a medieval soap about the day to day concerns and struggles of the Grey family, headed up by widower, Sir Thomas Grey (Nigel Terry).
Although 13 episodes of Covington Cross were made, only seven were broadcast in America and the UK.
The series was created and written by Gil Grant (NCIS, 24,Army Wives) and stars Nigel Terry (Excalibur, Troy, Caravaggio), Cherie Lunghi (The Mission, Unforgotten, Secret Diary of a Call Girl), James Faulkner (Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Bank Job, X-Men: First Class), Jonathan Firth (Luther, Far from the Madding Crowd Far from the Madding Crowd, Pompeii: The Last Day), Tim Killick (Without a Clue, Erik the Viking, Little Claus and Big Claus Little Claus and Big Claus), Glenn Quinn (Roseanne, Angel, At Any Cost) and Ione Skye (Four Rooms, Wayne’s World, River’s Edge).
The production chose Allington Castle to double as Covington Cross, the home of Sir Thomas Grey and Penshurst Place where the exterior features as the Convent in episode 2 and the Barron’s Hall as King Edward’s palace interior.
Allington Castle is set on the banks of the River Medway in 42 acres, near the town of Maidstone and features a moat, lakes and extensive gardens. The castle is now a private residence and has previously featured on productions such as The Legend of Dick and Dom (2009), The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood(1984) and Bernard Matthews and Mars commercials.
The Princess Bride is cult fantasy film, based on the 1973 book of the same name, written by William Goldman. A stable boy named Westley (Cary Elwes) confesses his love to an enchanting woman named Buttercup (Robin Wrigh) but their happiness is cut short when Westley is reportedly murdered by blood thirsty pirates. Fearing that her love will never return, Buttercup becomes engaged to a cruel king and they plan to wed. However, as the wedding ceremony begins, so does an invasion of the castle by an unlikely trio of men. Will there be a happy ending after all?
This film is a unique and daring spin on the classic fairy tale formula, complete with sword fights, damsels in distress, magic potions and heroic heroes.
The films cast includes Cary Elwes (Twister, Saw), Robin Wright (Forest Gump, Beowulf), Mandy Parinkin (Homeland, Dead Like Me) Chris Sarandon (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Childs Play), Fred Savage (The Wonder years, Little Monsters), Peter Falk (Columbo, Murder Ink) and Andre the Giant (WWF, Conan the Destroyer).
Production visited Penshurst Placeand used the Barons Hall as the setting for the confrontation between Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) and Count Rugen (Christopher Guest). Penshurst Place is a grand estate located in the Weald of Kent with extensive grounds spanning 48 acres. Due to its medieval architecture, the house and grounds are a popular filming location and have previously been used in The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), the BBC fantasy series Merlin (2008), and thriller movie The Gathering (2003).
The Princess Bride was first released in November 1987 and is now available to buy on DVD.
Young Sherlock Holmes is a new take on the classic tales of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in which we see the famous Sherlock Holmes first meet his trusty companion Watson at boarding school where they work together to solve a series of puzzling murders plaguing London.
Directed by Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Toys) and written by Chris Columbus (Gremlins, The Goonies), the film stars Nicolas Rowe (Da Vinci’s Demons), Alan Cox (The Dictator), Sophie Ward (Jane Eyre) and Anthony Higgins (Raiders of the Lost Ark).
The film included the first fully computer-animated character and was nominated for Best Effects, Visual Effects at the Oscars.
The historic Barons Hall in Penshurst Place served as the Brompton School gym for the scenes where Holmes (Nicholas Rowe) fences with Professor Rathe (Anthony Higgins).
Penshurst Place is a 14th century building known for its historical significance and architectural beauty. Its medieval design has made it a popular location for a number of film and television shows including The Other Boleyn Girl(2008), Merlin (2008) and The Princess Bride (1987).
Young Sherlock Holmes was released in cinemas in 1985 and is now available to buy on DVD.