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Where Did the Filming of ‘Emma’ Take Place?

February 18, 2020
5 min read

Nineteenth century English novelist Jane Austen is perhaps the most influential female writer of all time, pioneering female centric prose during a time when it was decidedly not fashionable to do so. Given the historical gravity and timeless themes explored by Austen in her works, several of her books have been adapted to the silver screen including ‘Pride & Prejudice’, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, and ‘Mansfield Park’.

The storyline of ‘Emma.’ is a retelling of the classic Jane Austen story about marriage, youthful vanity, and social classes from a comedic perspective. Described as “handsome, clever, and rich”, Emma Woodhouse is a bustling matchmaker at the top of the social hierarchy in the sleepy little town of Highbury. She doesn’t believe she will ever marry but prides herself on her ability to conjure the perfect matches for others. Through her meddling in the romantic affairs of her various friends and loved ones, Emma. learns all about growing up and falling in love herself.

If you were wondering where the 2020 adaptation of the classic tale was filmed, read on to find out everything we know.

Where Was Emma Filmed?

The setting of the story of both the book and the 2020 film adaptation is the fictional English village of Highbury and the nearby Hartfield Estate, Randalls Estate, and Downwell Abbey. Highbury is about sixteen miles away from Brunswick Square in London and seven miles from Box Hill, where the famous picnic takes place. As such, choosing the right filming locations for ‘Emma.’ was of the utmost importance given that it is a period piece. The distinct regency period English landscape serves as a prominent backdrop in ‘Emma.’, as it does in many of Austen’s works.

The filming for the movie was done on location at a variety of venues across England in the United Kingdom. These locations include iconic centuries old historical structures such as the Tudor manor Firle Place and the regal Wilton House near Salisbury. Principal photography for ‘Emma.’ commenced mid March, 2019.

Check out this picture of actress Anya Taylor Joy after a day of filming:

Firle Place, East Sussex, UK

Our protagonist Emma Woodhouse’s home of Hartfield Estate is represented by the elegant manor house Firle Place in the village of Firle, East Sussex, UK. The manor was originally built in the late fifteenth century by Sir John Gage but has since been remodelled extensively. Today, the location features an elegant double courtyard, formal gardens and external Georgian stone cladding made of Caen Stone to resemble a classical French Chateau. The venue is also open to public visits during the summer from June to September and has previously served as the filming location for films and TV shows including the mystery crime series ‘Jonathan Creek’ and the romance drama miniseries ‘The Line of Beauty’.

Check out these pictures of Firle Place:

Chavenage House, Beverston, Gloucestershire, UK

Just like the Hartfield Estate is represented by Firle Place, the filming location for the Randalls Estate in ‘Emma.’ is the sixteenth century country manor Chavenage House. The Cotswold stone manor features a distinct Elizabethan architecture and is largely unchanged from its original form nearly 450 years ago.

Chavenage House featured prominently in the 2015 historical drama series ‘Poldark’ as well as Stanley Kubrick’s historical adventure ‘Barry Lyndon’.

Leith Hill, Dorking, Surrey, UK

The pivotal picnic scene on Box Hill near the town of Highbury was actually filmed on the Leith Hill southwest of the market town of Dorking, Surrey in the UK. The top of the hill stands at 965 feet above sea level, which represents the second highest point in all of southeast England.

Lower Slaughter, Cotswold, Gloucestershire, UK

Many of the exterior scenes depicting the fictional village of Highbury were filmed in the puzzlingly named village of Lower Slaughter in the Cotswold district of Gloucestershire in the UK. The village is situated on both banks of the slow moving River Eye. Also featured are quaint, colorful cottages and a charming nineteenth century watermill.

Wilton House, Wiltshire, UK

The scenes in and about Donwell Abbey, the home of George Knightley were filmed at the four century old Wilton House near Salisbury in Wiltshire, UK. Currently, the Wilton House serves as home to the eighteenth Earl and Countess of Pembroke. The location has previously featured in numerous period pieces including Netflix’s ‘The Crown’, and the Jane Austen film adaptations of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Sense and Sensibility’.

Check out this picture of the filming posted by a fan on Twitter:

Other Locations

Besides the aforementioned locations, filming for certain scenes in ‘Emma.’ also took place in some other locations across the UK. For instance, Mrs. Goddard’s school is represented by the Kingston Bagpuize House in Oxfordshire and the Highbury parish church is represented by the All Saints Church in St. Paul’s Walden village, Hertfordshire.

Read More: Where Was The Princess Bride Filmed?

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