The hit Netflix show uses historic homes across the U.K. as stand-ins for the likes of Buckingham Palace, Sandringham and Windsor Castle

By Phil Boucher
November 16, 2020 03:50 PM
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Emma Corrin as Princess Diana in The Crown
| Credit: Netflix

The Crown has always made good use of the U.K.’s stately homes to provide a stunning backdrop to its on-screen action – and season 4 of the hit Netflix show, which dropped on Sunday, Nov. 15, is no different.

The award-winning royal drama is unable to film on royal land because of its controversial plotlines, so instead, it uses historic homes across the U.K. as stand-ins for the likes of Buckingham Palace, Sandringham and Balmoral Castle.

Season 4 also sees new locations mimic the rural homes of Prince Charles and Princess Anne for the first time, while new settings have been used to replicate the glamour and opulence of Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace.

On-camera, the action is set to focus heavily on the strained relationships of Princess Diana (played by Emma Corrin) and Prince Charles (Josh O'Connor), and the power struggle between Queen Elizabeth (Oliva Colman) and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson.

Truth is, however, that the historic homes lurking in the background have witnessed far more vanity, cruelty, and deception than The Crown could ever devise. If only walls could talk...

Highgrove House

Prince Charles bought Highgrove House in 1980 and lived in the three-story, nine-bedroom, country mansion with Princess Diana following their show-stopping 1981 wedding.

The Gloucestershire home is also where Prince William and Prince Harry were raised in their early days and now serves as the main home of Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

While it doesn't boast the same degree of royal history, Somerley House in Hampshire has been owned by the Earl of Normanton for six generations and occupies a dramatic spot on the rolling hills between the New Forest and Dorset.

The 18th Century country house is also a popular wedding venue and is available for private parties of up to 18 people.

Highgrove House
| Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty(2)
Somerley House
| Credit: Wikimedia

Gatcombe Park

Erin Doherty steps out as Princess Anne's for the last time in season 4. She also gets to do it at Wrotham Park in Hertfordshire, which stands in for Anne's real-life Gatcombe Park Estate in rural Gloucestershire.

Designed in 1754, the 2,500-acre Wrotham estate is owned by the 9th Earl of Strafford, and is located just 17 miles from central London, making it a regular location for fashion shoots and private receptions.

Gatcombe, meanwhile, rests in the sleepy surrounds of the Cotswolds around 100 miles to the west. Purchased by the Queen as a gift for Princess Anne following her 1973 wedding to first husband, Captain Mark Phillips, it includes a beautiful 18th-century manor house and working farm that breeds both cattle and horses.

Anne’s daughter Zara and her husband Mike Tindall also moved into a cottage on the estate following their own 2011 wedding, and now share it with daughter's Mia, 6, and Lena, 2.

Gatcombe Park
| Credit: Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty
Wrotham Park
| Credit: ROSIE HALLAM/BARCROFT via Getty

Kensington Palace

Charles and Diana’s London home is a key feature in season 4, which focuses heavily on the couple's troublesome romance and show-stopping 1981 wedding.

The Crown used two different locations to film the infamous events: 18th-century Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire; and 19th-century Harefield Grove in Middlesex.

The first of these has a colorful past to rival Buckingham Palace itself, having been the home of British Prime Ministers, Lord Melbourne and Lord Palmerston.

It's also currently owned by Baron Brocket, who was jailed for insurance fraud in 1996 and once appeared on the jungle-based reality show I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here.

Kensington Palace
| Credit: DeAgostini/Getty Images
Brocket Hall
| Credit: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty

Sandringham

The royals have a new Norfolk mansion to enjoy in season 4, following a switch from Englefield House in West Berkshire (location of Pippa Middleton's 2017 wedding) to the equally stunning Somerleyton Hall in Suffolk.

The history of Somerleyton dates back almost 900 years to the days of the Vikings. It now centers around a magnificent 19th-century Victorian home featuring a grand staircase, ballroom, winter garden, 12 acres of grounds and two stuffed polar bears from Lord Somerleyton's 1897 excursion to the Arctic.

Sandringham House
| Credit: Indigo/Getty Images
Somerleyton Hall
| Credit: GeographyPhotos/Universal Images Group via Getty

Windsor

Like Sandringham, the backdrop for Windsor Castle has also changed for season 4, with the show swapping Belvoir Castle in Lincolnshire, for nearby Burghley House.

Founded by Sir William Cecil, Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I, Burghley is one of the largest 16th-century homes in the U.K. and features a victorian orangery and gothic summerhouse, plus gardens designed by Britain's most famous landscaper, Lancelot "Capability" Brown.

Every September the house also hosts the Burghley Horse Trials, one of the six premier three-day events in the world.

Windsor Castle
| Credit: Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty
Burghley House
| Credit: Tim Graham/Getty

Balmoral

Nestling in the Scottish Highlands around 100 miles north of Edinburgh, Ardverikie House has been the location of The Crown's alternate version of Balmoral throughout the show's history.

Built as a luxury location for deer stalking by 19th-century businessman Sir John William Ramsden, the gothic castle hosted Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for three weeks in the late summer of 1847.

The castle and its extensive grounds remain in the care of Sir John's family and operate as a vacation destination for weddings, hiking and country sports.

Balmoral Castle
| Credit: Andrew Milligan - WPA Pool/Getty
Ardverikie House
| Credit: Getty

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace has been played by a number of British stately homes but many of its outdoor scenes take place in the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London, whose ornate columns have also provided the backdrop to movies including Thor: The Dark World to Les Miserables.

The Old College itself could not be more royal: built on the site of Greenwich Palace, it was the birthplace of King Henry VIII and his daughters Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I.

The site was later redeveloped into the Royal Hospital for Seamen in 1694 and served as the location of Lord Nelson's lying in state, following his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Buckingham Palace
| Credit: Pawel Libera/LightRocket via Getty
Royal Naval College, Greenwich
| Credit: Getty

Downing Street

Throughout its 800-year history, Hedsor House in Buckinghamshire has hosted kings, queens, and Hollywood superstars.

Today, the 13-bedroom country home provides a stunning wedding location that boasts a library, landscaped gardens, huge ballroom, tennis court, and croquet lawn. Better still, you can rent the entire place for around $2,000 a night!

10 Downing Street
| Credit: Zuma
Hedsor House
| Credit: Antonio J Galante /VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty

While it may not appear to have much in common with the comparatively cramped, bustling streets of central London, the House's ornate reception rooms provide the historic backdrop to Prime Minister Thatcher's important — and often deeply unpopular — cabinet decisions.