Great Expectations Filming Locations: Recreating Dickensian England

Article by Jane

March 26th, 2023

The 2023 Great Expectations filming locations include the New Forest, Beaulieu River, Marlow Bridge, Hartley Mauditt, Salisbury, Millennium Mills, Shrewsbury, Clerkenwell Centre of Detention, Luton Hoo Estate, Shirburn Castle, Skinners’ Hall and Pinewood Studios.

Developed by Steven Knight and directed by Brady Hood and Samira Radsi, the BBC miniseries follow Pip (Fionn Whitehead), a boy being raised by his blacksmith uncle, Joe (Owen McDonnell). Village businessman Mr Pumblechook (Matt Berry) introduces Pip to the grand Miss Havisham (Olivia Colman) and her charge, Estella (Shalom Brune-Franklin).

Miss Havisham’s influence, and encounters with runaway convict Magwitch (Johnny Harris) and London lawyer Jaggers (Ashley Thomas), change Pip’s life forever. He leaves the Kent marshes for London life, with the Great Expectations 2023 adaptation bringing out a murkier side of the Charles Dickens classic.

Where Was Great Expectations Filmed?

Great Expectations
Great Expectations was filmed in Hartley Mauditt in Hampshire, Buckler’s Hard in the New Forest, Millennium Mills in London, St Leonard’s Church in Hartley Mauditt, St Mary’s Water Lane in Shrewsbury, Luton Hoo Estate on the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire border, Skinner’s Hall in London, Shirburn Castle in Oxfordshire, Clerkenwell House of Detention and Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.

Brought to our screens by the BBC, FX Productions, Scott Free and Hardy Son & Baker, most of the 2023 Great Expectations filming locations are outside London. This follows the trend set by the same team’s 2019 adaptation of A Christmas Carol, opening up historic streets without the hustle and bustle of today’s Capital to contend with. And the show’s designers on hand to add period details that complete the picture.

“When I’m writing a script, I tend to do quite a lot of direction about what the room or scene looks like. But that’s just the beginning because then the designer comes in and looks at what’s contemporary and what was really going on at the time. I go to the set and think “this is amazing” because they do such a good job.”
Steven Knight, Writer and Executive Producer, BBC

Great Expectations Locations

Joe’s Forge

The location used for Pip’s home at Joe’s forge is Oxenford Farm in Surrey. The farm can be found in the countryside near Godalming, with the production transforming some of the outbuildings as Joe’s forge and the neighbouring cottages. This Great Expectations location is a working farm, with Oxenford Farm growing and selling sustainable Christmas trees onsite.

Ship Moorings

Beaulieu River Beaulieu River. Martinvl, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
The River Thames moorings in the 2023 Dickens adaptation on the Beaulieu River. During the shoot, historical boats were seen on the river and around the Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour, close to the Solent.

While Pip’s village sits close to the River Thames in the Great Expectations novel, this is a fitting location. Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, which famously sits on the Solent, just a short distance east of Buckler’s Hard and the New Forest.

The Bridge

The London bridge location in Great Expectations is Marlow Bridge, which links Marlow in Buckinghamshire with Bisham in Berkshire. The church in the background as Pip stands at the railing is Marlow's All Saints Church.

Locals spotted Fionn Whitehead filming on location in 2022 in Victorian dress. The Bucks Free Press caught a few action-packed moments in progress.

While it’s not a true London location, the Marlow Suspension Bridge isn’t a bad match. Like London’s own crossings, it spans the River Thames.

River Thames

Great Expectations' Thames scenes were filmed at Pinewood Studios’ water tank and at Millennium Mills in London. Supervising location manager David Kennaway confirmed the London river location in an interview with CN Traveller, while Johnny Harris discussed the Pinewood shoot in a BBC interview.

Millennium Mills is a popular former industrial filming location, appearing in movies like Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Batman and Paddington 2.

The former flour mill has been vacant since 1981, making it the ideal backdrop for movie making. But after 40 years, it’s set to become part of Silvertown redevelopment plans.

Kent Marshes

Fingringhoe Ranges Dike on Fingringhoe Range by Glyn Baker, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Great Expectations is set in Kent but the 2023 adaptation found its marshes in Surrey’s Peper Harrow and Essex’s Fingringhoe Ranges. The show’s supervising location manager, David Kennaway, revealed the locations in an interview with CN Traveller.

“It was good because it was untouched, but filming in those places is called a triple-SI – Site of Special Scientific Interest. You have to get ecological risk assessments to show that you’re not going to damage the flora and fauna, so it’s quite a business. And also it was very muddy – and tidal.”
David Kennaway, Supervising Location Manager

The real Great Expectations marshes are found around Gad’s Hill in Kent, where Dickens was living when he wrote the novel.

Barns and Moorings

Pip’s village location in Great Expectations were filmed in the New Forest. Barns were constructed close to the Beaulieu River, which was transformed into rural Kent docks.

Village scenes were also filmed along the Georgian terraces of Buckler’s Hard hamlet. Horses and carts were spotted between the water’s edge and the village’s main street during the March 2022 shoot.

The Church

Hartley Mauditt church Shazz / Hartley Mauditt church
The church in Great Expectations is St Leonard’s Church in Hartley Mauditt, in the Selborne area of Hampshire. The BBC drama’s church scenes were filmed in February and March 2023, including interior shots of the church service.

It stands by the edge of the pond in an area that’s become known as an abandoned village.

The Churchyard

Great Expectations’ churchyard location belongs to St Leonard’s Church, Hartley Mauditt. A house once stood alongside Hartley Mauditt’s church but it was demolished by the late 18th Century lord of the manor.

Parts of the manor house were distributed around the county, but it’s said that the cellars remain. The underground levels are now buried beneath woodland - and according to local legend, the house’s former residents linger too.

Though Pip’s churchyard has a spooky heritage of its own, the production team added a few eerie touches of their own. Artificial gravestones and snow were added to the abandoned churchyard for the 2023 Charles Dickens drama.

Satis House

Shirburn Castle Shirburn Castle. Matt Emmett, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
The Great Expectations locations for Miss Havisham’s house include Myles Place in Salisbury and Shirburn Castle in Watlington. The Satis House location used for exterior shots is Myles Place near West Walk in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

It’s located near The Salisbury Museum, just a few paces from Salisbury Cathedral. The Salisbury Journal caught photos of Myles Place shrouded in frost for the shoot, which took place in March 2022.

Interior shots of Miss Havisham’s house were filmed at Shirburn Castle in Watlington, in the Chiltern Hills of South Oxfordshire. The privately owned castle dates back to the 14th Century, but its interiors were decorated in the Georgian era.

Unfortunately this Satis House location is not open to the public – though you can see it onscreen in movies like Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. You can’t tour the Great Expectations house location in Salisbury either, but you can enjoy the nearby museum and the city’s other historic sites.

London Streets

Great Expectations’ London scenes were filmed around Shrewbury’s Castle Quarter, the name given to the historic streets surrounding the castle.

Scenes were filmed in front of the area’s half-timbered houses and along St Mary’s Water Lane. Look out for several of the Shropshire town’s courtyards and squares in the BBC/FX series.

The Dickens adaptation was also filmed on the Luton Hoo Estate. Thanks to its historical buildings and alleyways, it’s been used in dozens of period productions including Downton Abbey, Tom Hardy’s Taboo and the 2011-12 Great Expectations miniseries. The earlier Dickens adaptation used Luton Hoo’s buildings as Joe’s forge location, in particular. You can visit this two-time Great Expectations location for yourself – just look out for Luton Hoo Estate’s regular events.

Newgate Prison

The BBC Dickens adaptation’s Newgate Prison location is the former Clerkenwell Prison, at the corner of Sans Walk and Clerkenwell Close. The old prison building has been converted into flats, but the cellars remain – and they’ve carved out a screen career.

You can see Clerkenwell House of Detention’s catacombs in movies and TV shows ranging from Sherlock Holmes to Mr Selfridge to St Trinians 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold. Catch a glimpse of the underground chambers without the lighting here, courtesy of the Londonist.

The Old Bailey

Skinners Hall Skinners Hall. Steve Cadman, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
In the 2023 adaptation of Great Expectations the Old Bailey location is London’s Skinners’ Hall. The Grade I-listed building is a popular filming location. Situated at 8 Dowgate Hill, the current hall dates back to 1790.

The Worshipful Company of Skinners have been based at this address for even longer, and have held a charter for centuries more - inspiring a well-used idiom in their time.

London’s Skinners and Merchant Tailors are among London’s Great Twelve Livery Companies, and both received their royal charters in 1327. With equal claim to a longstanding pedigree, they fought over the claim to taking 6th position in the Lord Mayor’s River Procession. The two groups eventually came to a compromise - but not before inspiring the phrase “at sixes and sevens”.