Once upon a time places
All of our places have stories to tell, but these special places happen to share their stories with some rather famous characters. Children can walk in the footsteps of Harry Potter, enter Batman’s secret lair and find out what a real Hobbit hole looks like inside.
Choose your family's favourite story to start planning your day out.
Harry Potter fans love Lacock Abbey, in Wiltshire, which stood in as Hogwarts for two of the films. Challenge your friends to a wizard duel, play hide and seek in the grounds and pick up a family trail to explore the area.
Lavenham, in Suffolk, has also featured in the boy wizard films. Avid fans will recognise it from scenes in Godric’s Hollow. Freshwater West, six miles west of Stackpole in Pembrokeshire, was the filming location for the beach scenes with Dobby and home to Shell Cottage. Watch out for the Whomping Willow on Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire, which takes the form of a gnarled and knotted 400 year old beech tree. Visit Malfoy Manor, also known as Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire. Hardwick was used to film the exterior scenes of the Malfoy's home in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
See the original necklace from Kipling’s Just So Story, How the Alphabet was Made, at his home in Sussex. The necklace was created by the story’s heroine from oyster shells, a sharks tooth and many other unusual objects. At Kipling’s home children can also see jungle book illustrations and let off steam in the garden.
The secret’s out. Batman’s lair is in Powys. It can be found behind an 88ft (27m) waterfall, called Henrhyd Falls. In The Dark Knight Rises Batman disappears behind the falls to enter his hideout.
Amazingly this isn’t a camera trick. Brave visitors can walk through the curtain of white water and discover a place where darkness glistens, light sparkles and water thunders down.
Osterley House, in Middlesex, also starred in The Dark Knight Rises as Wayne Manor.
‘Coniston, in Cumbria, is the setting for the Swallows and Amazons stories. Have your own adventures here complete with pirates, sharks and pemmican cakes.’
-Mel G, visitor
The Lake District is the perfect setting for creating your own Swallows and Amazons adventures. Coniston has a lot of quieter roads and trails, which provide wonderful family-friendly cycling or walking routes. Don’t forget to have a trip on the Steam Yacht Gondola too.
Belton, in Lincolnshire, was the setting for the Children’s novel and TV series Moondial. You can see the moondial, which doubles as a sundial, in the garden.
Children can also visit the Hidden Realm – an adventure play area based on Middle-earth. There are tunnels, an ‘Iron Age’ fort, a wide slide, trickling stream and large sandpit.
The Rock Houses, in Staffordshire, are also a must see for little-folk. It is thought that these houses, carved into caves in the side of the hill, could have been the inspiration behind Hobbit holes.
‘ I really loved the dolls’ house inside Hill Top where the mice were so naughty.’
- Ben, four years old
One of the many treasures you can see at Beatrix Potter’s house, in Cumbria, is her dolls’ house. This is the very dolls’ house Beatrix used to conjure up The Tale of Two Bad Mice. Everything from the cradle, to the birdcage and the tiny little spoons that are featured in the book can be spotted in the house. Bring a copy of the tale with you to play a game of I spy.
You can also see Beatrix Potter’s paintings of Jemima Puddleduck at Melford Hall, Suffolk.
Tim Burton chose Antony House, in Cornwall, to shoot Alice in Wonderland. He was looking for ‘…a perfect, pocket-sized mansion; something beautifully symmetrical, with intimate interiors, wide views and landscaped gardens.’ Walk in Alice’s footsteps through this magical house and gardens.
Ashridge Estate, in Hertfordshire, is a truly magical forest. Rare breeds of deer, bats and songbirds all call this place their home. It can be explored on foot or by bike.
But watch out - it’s also home to the evil fairy from Sleeping Beauty. Disney’s new film, Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie, was filmed here.