History Meets Hollywood in England’s Hatfield House

Visit Britain

One of the most popular filming locations in all of England, Hatfield House is a must-see for both history buffs and movie fans. Once the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth I, it has since been the on-screen residence of some well-known and much-loved cinematic icons.

Situated just 25 miles north of London, Hatfield House is a mere 30-minute journey from the capital city by train. The station is conveniently located across the street from the home's entrance. Opening times and ticket prices are available on its website, along with details on special events and the on-site farm and restaurant. Here are a few highlights you won't want to miss when you stop by.

The Exterior and Gardens

The grounds of Hatfield House are quite expansive, so there's plenty to see even before you enter the house. "Tomb Raider" fans will recognize the north and west facades as the home of Lara Croft, both from the two films and the hit video games.

Unlike the other exterior areas, the south face is white. That side appears in the opening scene of "V for Vendetta" and the Greenwich scenes of "Shakespeare in Love." The gardens also feature a maze which you may have seen in the 1998 spy movie "The Avengers."

The Marble Hall

Built in 1611, Hatfield's Marble Hall is distinctive and easily identified by its checkered floor and elaborate wood carvings. In the 2005 film "The New World," the hall is used as the throne room where Pocahontas is presented to King James I. Ironically, the former home of Elizabeth I was used in the 2007 film "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" as the home of Geoffrey Rush's character, Sir Francis Walsingham. The hall appears in several shots.

The Long Gallery

The intricately carved Long Gallery, which runs the length of the building’s south face, features an ornate fireplace and several items that once belonged to Elizabeth I. In the 2009 film "Sherlock Holmes," the fireplace is visible in the scene where James Fox gives Robert Downey, Jr. the book of spells. The Long Gallery is also used as the interior of Wayne Manor in 1989's "Batman," including the scene where Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger meet at a party.

The Armory

In addition to armor and weapons from the Tower of London, the armory houses a spectacular organ that dates back to 1609. In movies, the room is recognizable from the unique circular filigrees on the windows, which can be seen in shots from "Tomb Raider" and "Batman." The armory was also used for the interior shots of Veruca Salt's home in 2005's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

The Library

Another not-to-be-missed spot is the home's massive library, which houses more than 10,000 volumes, many of which are antique. Its on-screen appearances include a scene in "Batman" when Alfred (Michael Gough) brings Bruce Wayne a glass of water, and the part of "Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life" when Lara is asked to retrieve Pandora's Box.

If you're planning to be in London, Hatfield House makes a truly ideal day trip, and you won't find another way to get more "bang" for your sightseeing buck.

Getting there: British Airways flies from various cities in the U.S. to London. Catch a National Rail train from Kings Cross station in London to the Hatfield station.

Content by Zoe Bauer

Top: Hatfield House near London is frequently used as a filming location. (Photo by Allan Engelhardt via Wikimedia Commons)

Left: A gardener stands proudly in the gardens of Hatfield House. (Photo by Rod Edwards/Visit Britain)

What to Read Next