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Location, location

It's not just the mantra of estate agents but of film and TV producers the world over. Wiltshire has some stunning locations that have taken starring roles in both TV, Hollywood and even Bollywood productions.

This Is Lancashire:

Why not take a day to go location spotting and visit some of the county's unspoilt villages, grand houses and countryside?

Harry Potter fans, large and small, should head for the historic National Trust-owned village of Lacock, near Chippenham, and make for the abbey. It's just about the only way a muggle will ever get into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, for here in the abbey's cloisters is where the interior classroom shots were filmed. The Warming Room, Chapter House and sacristy all played host to Harry and co.

The abbey holds plenty of interest itself. It was founded in 1232 and was converted into a country house in about 1540. It was once the home of Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), the inventor of the negative/positive photographic process and it was his descendants who gave the abbey and village to the National Trust in 1944.

Take a moment to visit the Museum of Photography, where there are interesting exhibitions and a programme of events, and wander the Victorian woodland garden, which boasts a fine display of spring flowers, magnificent trees, an 18th century summer house, Victorian rose garden, newly restored botanic garden and ha-ha.

The exquisite village, which dates from the 13th century, has many limewashed and half-timbered and stone houses and is a must see. It has remained unspoilt and therefore an excellent location for period dramas such as Pride and Prejudice, Moll Flanders and Emma. The residents may get to rub shoulders with plenty of stars (Diana Rigg, Colin Firth and Gwyneth Paltrow to name drop) but in return must cope with the upheaval of filming. This involves eradicating all vestiges of modern life, such as laying an authentic road surface and of course banning traffic. While we are name dropping, Camilla Parker Bowles lives nearby.

The village was once a prosperous town but now has few shops, apart from those supported by tourism. The quaint and rather good pubs such as The George Inn and The Sign of the Angel still do a good trade, however.

In the nearby town of Corsham filming took place for The Mayor of Casterbridge, starring Ciaran Hinds and James Purefoy. The TV adaptation was screened at Christmas and in the central roles were Corsham town hall, Ethelred House and Church Street. It was also used in the BBC production Wives and Daughters.

While you're here, you must see the Flemish Weavers' Houses, testament to the area's wool trade. Also visit the almshouses, schoolroom and Master's House at Pound Pill, built by Lady Margaret Hungerford, of Corsham Court, in the 17th century. It has recently been restored to its former glory and remains virtually unchanged with a wealth of original features.

Corsham Court is well worth a visit with the house and grounds the work of Capability Brown, John Nash and Thomas Bellamy. It houses an outstanding collection of over 140 paintings, statues, bronzes and furniture. And it was here that The Remains of the Day was shot, starring Anthony Thompson.

While Dyrham Court, at nearby Chippenham, was setting for the recent BBC period series Servants, about life below stairs in an English country house of the 1850s. Dyrham Park is a beautiful Baroque country house set in 274 acres of garden and parkland and a showcase for Dutch decorative arts.

On a different tack, a trip to Salisbury will reward you with the hidden gem of Mompesson House in the Cathedral Close. It was here that part of Sense and Sensibility was set starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslett, Alan Rickman and Greg Wise. These pictures of the stars (above) were captured between takes.

Mompesson House is a perfect example of Queen Anne architecture, dating from 1701. It has an important collection of 18th century drinking glasses, a tranquil walled garden and a garden tearoom.

The journey there will reveal the awe-inspiring landscape of the plains. It was here that Saving Private Ryan was filmed and Sue Craig, of South West Screen, points out that the versatility of the area enabled it to realistically double up as Mid Western America!

Not a million miles away is Wardour Castle which starred in the Hollywood blockbuster Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves alongside Kevin Costner. The castle was used as Locksley Castle (the home of Marion).

Set next to a shimmering lake, the castle was built in the 14th century but was besieged during the English Civil War and the damage during the battle was never repaired. When the new castle was built in the 1770s, the old castle survived as a romantic ruin integrated into the landscaped gardens. There is an exciting range of events held here.

Sue Craig, of South West Screen, commented on Wiltshire's remarkable number of stately homes that continue to attract film-makers - and not always for period pieces.

"Longleat fired the imagination of Yash Raj Films," she said, "who transformed it into an Indian school for Mohabbatein, a film starring two of Bollywood's biggest stars, which subsequently broke the UK box office record for Indian films."

Why not picture yourself in a film and step onto a few of these famous sets?

Fact file

Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot Museum and Manger Barn - (01249) 730227. For recitals at the abbey call (01249) 730042 or the box office on (01985) 843601. There is a range of events from the Lacock Proms, a picnic, concert and firework spectacular in July, to touring photography exhibitions, lectures and opera projects.

Corsham Tourist Information and Heritage Centre, Arnold House, 31 High Street, (01249) 714660. Set in the historic High Street, the Heritage Centre has an exhibition detailing the town's wool and quarrying background.

Corsham almshouses, schoolroom and Master's House - open March 20-September 30 daily except Mondays, 11.30am-3.30pm. Contact (01249) 714660.

Salisbury Tourist Information Centre: (01722) 334956.

Mompesson House - in Salisbury's Cathedral Close it is a perfect example of Queen Anne architecture and played host to the cast of Sense and Sensibility. Contact (01722) 420980 for further information.

Old Wardour Castle - four miles north-east of Shaftesbury off the A30. Special events (call 0870 333 1181 for details): Easter egg hunts, Civil War re-enactments, Shakespeare festival

Open: Apr 30-Oct 31, 10am-5/6pm; Nov 1-Mar 31, 10am-1pm, 2pm-4pm, Wed-Sun

Cost: adults £2.60, children £1.30 Contact (01747) 870487 or visit

Dyrham Park - near Chippenham on the A46, contact (01179) 372501

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