It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Regency period drama must be shot on location in the English city of Bath. And so, in opulent new Netflix series Bridgerton (the name of a family, not a place), Bath’s picturesque Georgian architecture stands in for London in 1813.
All the exterior shots of “Mayfair” were actually filmed against the honey stone facades of Alfred, Bath and Great Pulteney streets, as well as Beauford Square and Royal Crescent.
Based on the popular romance novels by Julia Quinn, the television series centres around two high society families, the sophisticated Bridgertons and the gauche Featheringtons, as their daughters aim to find eligible husbands during the London social season.
Described as "Jane Austen meets Gossip Girl" – or, by TV reviewer Kristen Baldwin, as a “wonderful diversion for those who love Pride & Prejudice but wish it had more stairway sex” – the show is an over-the-top extravaganza of bright colours, sumptuous costumes and stunning locations.
As well as Bath, historic buildings around England, many designed by the nation’s first “starchitect”, Inigo Jones, were used as locations. The interiors are 50 per cent real, 50 per cent set design, Bridgerton's production designer, Will Hughes-Jones, tells me.
Some of the real-life locations are not open to the public, for instance that staircase. The coupling of anti-hero Simon, the Duke of Hastings, and Daphne Bridgerton was filmed in a private house on Queen Anne’s Gate in Westminster, London.
Below, though, are Bridgerton locations the public can visit when the world is travelling again.
The grand exterior of No 1 Royal Crescent, a Georgian era museum, is the Featherington’s Grosvenor Square house (the interiors are set designs). Holburne Museum of Art, at the end of Great Pulteney, is the exterior of the duke’s godmother Lady Danbury’s mansion, while the Bath Assembly Rooms, the scene of many real-life Georgian balls, was the setting for Danbury House’s ballroom.
Double bay-windowed Pickled Greens cafe, on Abbey Green, is the location of the Modiste couture dressmaker, while 12 Trim Street (in reality a hair salon) is Gunter’s Tea Shop, both featured throughout the series.
Ranger's House, London
The exterior of Bridgerton House, also supposedly in Grosvenor Square, is this eye-catching building in Greenwich, southeast London.
An added attraction of this Palladian-style villa, which the production team bedecked with wisteria, is The Wernher Collection, artworks collected by mining entrepreneur Sir Julius Wernher in the 19th century. Dating back to the 1720s, the house was once home to the ranger (keeper) of Greenwich Park, which explains the name.
Wilton House, Wiltshire
When debutantes including Daphne and the Featherington sisters are presented to Queen Charlotte at St James’s Palace, it’s in Wilton House’s Single Cube Room (9 metres, or 30ft, square) that the action really takes place.
And when the displeased queen confronts her nephew, Prince Friedrich of Prussia, at her home, Buckingham House, the actress does so in the even more splendid Double Cube Room.
The house multitasks as the exterior and interiors of the duke’s London residence, Hastings House. The Cloisters feature in several corridor stomping scenes and that fabulous aerial shot of “Hastings House”, with its courtyard garden, in the series finale is Wilton.
In 1544, King Henry VIII granted the property to Sir William Herbert, and it has remained in his family ever since.
Queen's House, London
Also in Greenwich, this impressive classical building – the first of its style in the UK – stands in for Somerset House, where the on-screen debutantes flock around Prince Friedrich.
The house was built for King James 1’s bride, in the early 1600s, and now houses an art gallery (though not the one seen in Bridgerton). Works by Gainsborough, Reynolds, Turner and Hogarth can be seen on these historic walls.
The 18th century landscaped gardens, in Cobham, Surrey appear in the “Botanical Gardens” scenes, in which London society meets to picnic and promenade.
The lake and both the Chinese (which isn’t really Chinese at all) and Five Arch bridges feature prominently – with the Netflix design additions of gazebos and a profusion of flowers.
Designed and created between 1738 and 1773 by Charles Hamilton, the gardens had fallen into disrepair by 1980, when the local council began restoring them as a resource for the public, as they had originally been intended.
Syon House, London
Some of the Buckingham House interiors were shot inside this 16th century residence in west London. The neoclassical gem also serves as the location of the duke’s Hastings House study and dressing room.
And the distinctive neo classical Great Hall is where the duke’s belongings are packed up before he intends to leave England. Syon House’s garden courtyard inspired the set design for the London Season’s final ball.
Another house bursting with art and surrounded by expansive gardens, Syon House has been in the family of the owners for more than 400 years.
Hatfield House, Hertfordshire
Lady Trowbridge’s Ball, featuring pivotal scenes for all the major Bridgerton characters, was filmed at this country house just north of London.
As well as shots of the Jacobean exteriors and the ornamental East Garden, the Marble Hall, with its black and white checked floor and wood carved walls, features as the ballroom.
Built in 1611, the house occupies the site of another, the childhood home of Queen Elizabeth 1, and a portrait of the Virgin Queen (circa 1600) hangs in the Marble Hall. Some of her gloves and a pair of silk stockings – believed to have been the first in England – are also on display.
Castle Howard, North Yorkshire
Both the magnificent exterior and interiors, including the centrepiece dome, were shot for the duke’s country seat, Clyvedon Castle.
The Temple of the Four Winds, in the grounds, is the setting for another passionate scene between Simon and Daphne. Clyvedon’s dining room was filmed at Wilton House, though, and if you’re looking for the library – setting of yet another steamy encounter – you’ll need an invitation to The Reform Club, in London.
If the property, which has been in the Howard family for more than 300 years, seems too far flung for a day trip, it’s worth knowing that holiday cottages, a lakeside holiday park and camping can all be found in the grounds. And the surrounding countryside is well worth a visit, too.
The eight-part Bridgerton series is streaming on Netflix now.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.