The beautiful moors and open heaths, hills and lakes of the Peak District have inspired authors and filmmakers alike to set their stories here.
Classic stories like Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre or Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice were either fully or partially set on the moors or inspired by one of the stately homes like Chatsworth House or Haddon Hall. So it’s only natural that filmmakers would follow suit.
It’s not just the classics that have employed the Peak District as a backdrop for their stories, the remote location has drawn in filmmakers with darker tales to tell as well, so in this list you’ll also find a few horrors in amongst the Gothic romances.
Chatsworth Estate dominates the filmmaking activity in the Peak District region. Chatsworth House has doubled for Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice film and TV adaptations. It also features prominently in the 2013 TV production, Death Comes to Pemberley – a curious sequel to Pride and Prejudice.
Actress Keira Knightley must like the Chatsworth Estate because it features in two of her star vehicles – Pride and Prejudice (Dir. Joe Wright 2005) and The Duchess (Dir. Saul Dibb 2008). Other films that used Chatsworth House were the cult-favourite, The Princess Bride (Dir. Rob Reiner 1987) and The Wolfman (Dir. Joe Dante 2010) that starred Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins. The horror mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was made in the South East in Hampshire and Surrey, so it must be the only adaptation (if you can call it that) of the Jane Austen classic that wasn’t made in the Peak District.
The Hope Valley
The open spaces of The Hope Valley have proved to be a massive draw. The Hope Valley occupies the area furthest north and even though it’s the least populated lots of films have been lensed here.
Stately home wise the 1995 TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice moved to Lyme Park. People journey here to see the lake featured in the scene in which Mr Darcy (Colin Firth) emerges, dripping wet in his breaches turning female viewers everywhere to jelly. You can get a better look at Lyme Park in the potent ghost story The Awakening (Dir. Nick Murphy 2011). The caustic indie thriller Catch Me Daddy (Dir. Daniel Wolfe 2014) was largely filmed in West Yorkshire, its story revolves around a couple that has eloped into the wilderness of the Hope Valley. The Snake Pass – which was voted as the UK’s favourite driving road - features in the sad Colin Firth and Jim Broadbent weepy, When Did You Last See Your Father? (Dir. Anand Tucker 2007).
Perhaps the most famous film set in the Peak District is the ‘Dad’ classic The Dam Busters (Dir. Michael Anderson 1955). The classic bouncing bomb scene was filmed at Derwent Water and its instantly recognisable today despite the film’s age. Bouncing back to the small screen, the mean and moody series The Village was filmed in and around the pretty village of Hayfield. Last but not least is the cult-comedy series and film, The League of Gentlemen who re-appropriated the village of Hadfield and turned it into the monstrously weird Royston Vaysey.
Dovedale fits most people’s idea of how they imagine the Peak District to appear. This is probably why the makers of the series Peak Practice picked Longnor for the later series’. Although it’s filmed all across the national park. Also filmed near Longnor was the little-seen domestic terror flick The Holding (Dir. Susan Jacobson 2011) featuring Terry Stone (aka Terry Turbo). Thor’s Cave featured heavily in 1980s curio The Lair of the White Worm (Dir. Ken Russell 1988) starring a young Hugh Grant and Amanda Donohoe.
Stepping back in time, costume dramas like The Other Boleyn Girl (Dir. Justin Chadwick 2007) and Robin Hood (Dir. Ridley Scott 2009) used Lindale and Ilam Hall to good effect. Elsewhere, the most three recent Jane Eyre film and TV adaptations were all made at Haddon Hall. Elizabeth (Dir. Shekhar Kapur 2008) was also partially filmed here.
The brilliant but harrowing Dead Man’s Shoes (Dir. Shane Meadows 2004) was filmed in and around Bonsall and Matlock Bath. Seek out the wonderfully, bizarre Skeletons (Dir. Nick Whitfield 2010) which was also made here. Ken Russell made his DH Lawrence novel Women In Love (Dir. Ken Russell 1969) celluloid here at 80 New Street in Matlock and Kedelston House. Saving the best for last, the best romantic scene took place between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy, in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, at Stanage Edge above Hathersage, one of the most famous view points and treks in the area.
Early episodes of Peak Practice were produced in the towns and villages of Belper, Crich and Frithley before moving westwards to Longnor.
So as you can see the Peak District is not just about Jane Eyre and Mr Darcy, although we love both books and those characters. All kinds of films and TV series have been made up here including bible-black horrors, mad cap comedy and revenge thrillers. It’s certainly inspirational. See how many famous spots you can recognise on your next trip to the area. We have a very broad selection of holiday cottages across the Peak District to suit everybody, no matter what your taste in films may be.