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The locations that inspired Belgravia

A publicity shot of the cast of Belgravia
The cast of ITV's Belgravia | © Carnival Films ITV

You may have read the 2016 novel Belgravia by Julian Fellowes (creator of Downton Abbey), but did you know that it was partially inspired by two places we look after: Attingham Park in Shropshire and Montacute House in Somerset? Here we look at these and some of the locations used for filming the series.

Belgravia is a story of secrets, scandal and family ties among London society in the 19th century. When the upwardly mobile Trenchards accept an invitation to a ball hosted by the Duchess of Richmond on the fateful eve of the Battle of Waterloo, it sets in motion a series of events that will have consequences for decades to come.

Locations used for filming Belgravia

Several of the places in our care appeared in the six-part TV adaptation of the tale: providing settings for business offices, lavish family homes, and even a working cotton mill.

Two women in period costume stand and talk in a grand drawing room
Filming Belgravia at West Wycombe | © Carnival Films ITV
West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
West Wycombe’s opulent interiors were the ideal stand-in for the Duchess of Bedford’s London townhouse in Belgravia. Keep an eye out for the Music Room, which was transformed for an afternoon tea party – a custom that was first popularised by the real Duchess of Bedford.More about West Wycombe
Basildon Park, Berkshire
The beautiful 18th-century manor house of Basildon Park was rescued from demolition in the 1950s by Lord and Lady Iliffe, which was lucky as it went on to provide the perfect location for the interiors of the Trenchards’ London home. Fans of period drama might also recognise it as Netherfield from Pride and Prejudice (2005).More about Basildon Park
A view of Ham House, London
A view of Ham House | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey
Ham House, London
Ham House in London is no stranger to a bit of drama, having weathered over 400 years of turbulent history, including the Civil War. For Belgravia, Ham was transformed into the Brussels office of James Trenchard, from where he makes his fortune as a major supplier to the Duke of Wellington during the Napoleonic Wars.More about about Ham House
Quarry Bank, Cheshire 
As one of the best-preserved textile mills of the Industrial Revolution, Quarry Bank in Wilmslow, Cheshire, was the perfect location to play Girton’s Mill in Belgravia. The filmmakers made use of the historic mill floor where the powerful spinning machines still turn, and the looms weave. They also filmed inside the Apprentice House and around the yard, bringing the bustle of the Industrial Revolution to life on our screens.More about Quarry Bank
Three men in period costume stand under an entrance arch proclaiming 'Girton's Mill' with the redbrick mill building behind them
Quarry Mill in Belgravia | © Carnival Films ITV

Julian Fellowes on the locations that inspired him

As well as starring in the series, places in our care also inspired locations in the original novel of Belgravia. We caught up with Julian Fellowes when the book was first published to discuss the story, and where he gets his ideas from.

Several settings in Belgravia are based on National Trust places – why?

The Brockenhurst family home is based on Attingham in Shropshire. Attingham is a self-conscious statement of social importance, with the fashion of the great porticos, the great drawing rooms. It’s very charming and light-hearted but still grandiloquent and a little self-important.

It is a proclamation of the importance of the family. The Trenchard family estate is based on Montacute, in Somerset, which is more a proclamation of the enduring qualities of a family.

What particularly inspired you about Montacute?

One of the reasons that Montacute is emotionally powerful is precisely because the Phelips family, who built the house and lived there for over 300 years, have not greatly altered the house. Very little has been changed, so Montacute has never lost touch with its roots. You can still see the original, early Elizabethan house. I think there is something about those enduring values that survive so much – civil war, both world wars – and somehow here they still are, with the sun dappling the hall floor. Those values, and the very presence of the house, give one a sense that we all belong to a kind of continuum if we so choose.

The full article with Julian Fellowes originally appeared in our members' magazine in 2016.

Supporting special places

As well as showing off beautiful locations, filming directly benefits the places in our care that star in the production. The income from location fees goes straight back into conservation work to care for historic houses and landscapes, so that we’ll all be able to see them both on screen and in real life for years to come.

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Attingham Park 

Owned by the Berwick family for over 160 years, Attingham charts their rising and falling fortunes. It’s the ideal home for the Brockenhursts, who experience their own trials and tribulations in Belgravia.