Some Jane Austen fans are born—the die hard Mansfield Park fans, for example—and others are made—like the ones who saw Clueless and wanted to find the original story. Those who chased down the roots of Clueless found Emma, the 1815 Jane Austen novel. Emma, following in the footsteps of Austen literary cousins like Sense & Sensibility and Persuasion, was made into a feature film in both 1996 and 2020. The February 2020 version, in addition to being a must-watch movie for Anglophiles, showcases some of Great Britain’s most remarkable estates. For the Austen fans taken with the exceptional English countryside destinations featured in Emma, these are seven Emma (2020) filming locations you can visit on your next trip to the UK.
Wilton House, Wiltshire
The Wilton House—which plays the part of Donwell Abbey, the most opulent of all the mansions in Emma—dates back to the ninth century. It was originally a convent, though in 1544, King Henry VIII bequeathed it to the 1st Earl of Pembrooke. Now owned by the 18th Earl of Pembrooke, the estate is prized for its stunning new gardens (“new” being a relative term considering this property is more than 1,000 years old) that flank Wilton House. Wilton House—often used as an event space—has been featured in two other Jane Austen movies: the 2005 Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility. It’s also one of The Crown’s shooting locations.
Kingston Bagpuize House, Abingdon
Kingston Bagpuize House, another estate passed down through royal lineage, is so named for an owner in the 1200s. Not only does the estate boast an impressive ownership line, it’s already made an onscreen name for itself; Kingston Bagpuize moonlights as the home of Lord Merton on Downton Abbey. Visitors are welcome to visit both the house and the flowering gardens, and in addition to hosting private events, Kingston Bagpuize House hosts a myriad of events and fairs for the public. In Emma, both the interiors and exteriors of Kingston Bagpuize House are used as Mrs. Goddard’s school.
Chavenage House, Tetbury
Much like the Wilton House, Chavenage House has been owned by the same prominent family for centuries. Chavenage House has been passed down in the Lowsley-Williams family since 1840. The Elizabethan-inspired home was refurbished in 1576—to put that in historical perspective, that’s 200 years before the U.S. came to be. It now features a regal display of Cotswold stone work and was used as the house of Emma’s governess, Mrs. Weston.
Firle Place, East Sussex
Firle Place was used as Emma and her father’s home, dubbed Hartfield. As the home of Emma and Mr. Woodhouse, Hartfield is an important fixture in Emma. The East Sussex manor, perched on no fewer than 300 acres, is a 15th-century relic, refurbished in the style of a French chateâu. The estate initially had a Tudor manor feel until the reimagining in the 18th century transformed the Tudor work to Georgian-style architecture with countryside chateâu-esque accents. Visitors can tour Firle Place and it’s available to rent for weddings and other events.
Lower Slaughter, Cotswolds
Hartfield, where Emma and Mr. Woodhouse reside, is meant to be one of the nicest homes in the village of Highbury. For the 2020 Emma film, the production team recreated the fictional Higbury village in the heart of the Cotswolds at Lower Slaughter; they were especially drawn to the town’s stone facades and the creek running through the area. The Cotswolds, an 800-square-mile region in south central England, is known for its historic villages and bucolic countryside.
Ramster Hall, Surrey
When you picture a Jane Austen novel turned to film, what do you see in your mind’s eye? Is it Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennett smiling at Mr. Bingley across a crowded ballroom? That’s because the 1800s ballroom scenes are all but mandatory in the realm of Jane Austen. The ball scene in Emma is hosted at Ramster Hall, a 17th-century estate. The idyllic Surrey event venue, just outside Chiddingfold is on 20 acres with manicured gardens and the hallowed brick-lined walls are home to three (rather hard-to-book) wedding halls.
All Saints Church, St. Paul’s Walden, Hertfordshire
The Hertfordshire village of St. Paul’s Walden was home to the perfect Georgian-style church for Emma—and as a result, All Saints Church became a frequently used location, housing most of the film’s church scenes. All Saints Church, which doubles as Highbury Parish in Emma, has fixtures (like the original stained glass windows) that date back to 1320. The Queen Mother (the late Queen Elizabeth) grew up in St. Paul’s Walden and was actually baptized at All Saints in 1900. The church, which still features the original vaulted ceilings and exterior stone work, was refurbished in the mid-1700s, bringing a more baroque style to the interior.