Poldark in Corsham
Those walkers who are keen film and TV fans might have a sense of deja vu when visiting Corsham, a thriving market town located in north Wiltshire on the fringes of the Cotswolds National Landscape. The honey-coloured High Street with its 19 ‘listed’ buildings, quirky shop frontages and magnificent Georgian Town Hall, is perhaps most recently recognisable and renowned for providing the market place and courthouse in the popular BBC series Poldark. The early morning filming of Aidan Turner striding along the cobbles did nothing to deter huge crowds gathering at the far end of the High Street to watch filming in 2014 and Aidan’s presence has spawned a small industry producing Poldark memorabilia to satisfy the many fans still mourning his loss on a Sunday evening. In the same year, ITV also landed in Corsham to film scenes for the popular and spooky series The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher.
Not far from the High Street, in grounds landscaped by Capability Brown, Corsham Court stands on a site rumoured to have links to Ethelred, the first King of England, and has been in the same family for eight generations. The stately house provides the backdrop for a number of films and television series and was first used in Stanley Kubrick’s romping adaptation of William Thackeray’s Barry Lyndon which starred the 70s heart throb, Ryan O’Neil. Fans of Sir Anthony Hopkins will recall the poignant scenes filmed there in The Remains of the Day and the house also features in the BBC’s adaptations of Thomas Hardy’s, Tess of the d’Urberville’s and Mrs Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters as well as historian Philippa Gregory’s A Respectable Trade based on the slave trade in Bristol.
Although steeped in history and well-suited to characters in bonnets and top hats, Corsham and environs have also provided several locations for several more modern and fantastical film creations. Harry Potter fans flock to Lacock to glimpse the topiary in the gardens featured in The Philosopher’s Stone. As early as 1967, Castle Combe, six miles north-west of Corsham, was the setting for Doctor Dolittle starring the late Rex Harrison. Robert De Niro visited the village briefly during the filming of the magical fantasy Stardust and the ever-popular War Horse was filmed there too. Castle Combe also pops up in scenes from Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and another Agatha can often be found sleuthing in Corsham and nearby Biddestone while filming the popular series Agatha Raisin for Sky television.
Corsham Court https://corsham-court.co.uk/ is open all year round but only at weekends in winter. To learn more about the walks on offer in and around the town, please visit the Corsham Walking Festival website http://corshamwalkingfestival.org.uk/ There are eight Heritage Trails available locally or to download.