The Crown filming locations make the Netflix show’s take on modern history all the more convincing (and stylish).
By recreating so much of their world in the real world, they’ve made it so much easier to believe we’re looking behind the closed doors of the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
But it doesn’t happen by accident. The first season is said to have cost nearly £100 million. A stellar cast and impeccable production values don’t come cheap, and the Netflix show hasn’t held back on location shoots – or purpose-built set.
Many backdrops are made up of several filming locations cut together with shots from the Elstree backlot. Even as Left Bank Pictures extend and improve their existing sets, they’re still hand-picking some of the grandest buildings around to round out the story.
Where Was The Crown Filmed?
The Crown Season 1 and The Crown Season 2 were filmed in London’s West End, Cambridge, and South Africa. But not in Corfu, the Bahamas or Paris, however convincing the filming locations may be...
And that’s not to mention all the locations that make up Buckingham Palace and the royal residences.
The royal family are known for making official appearances at theatre openings and gala events over the years, including the famous annual Royal Variety Show. In The Crown, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh step out to the theatre early in Elizabeth’s reign.
In fact the theatre in question, London’s Lyceum, was officially reopened in 1996 by Prince Charles. Today audiences can catch The Lion King here.
Wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, played by John Lithgow, is shown at home in Chartwell House when he is not in his Downing Street offices or meeting with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
Also seen in Little Dorrit, Thomas Hardy drama Taboo and the film Me Before You, in the scenes where Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke’s characters attend a wedding.
Frequented by Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, Chenies Manor in Buckinghamshire is the historic seat of the Cheyne family. This Tudor manor house can even claim its own ghost, with phantom footsteps roaming the halls by night.
The manor opens to visitors on selected dates between April to October, if you want to hunt locations – or spooks.
Winston Churchill’s own Chartwell is found in Kent, and is cared for and opened to the public by the National Trust complete with café.
Ely Cathedral, near Cambridge, is beloved by royal dramas. It appears in The Crown as Westminster Abbey, but it has previously shown up in The King’s Speech in the scene where the future Queen Elizabeth’s father, George VI, is preparing for his coronation by reluctantly accepting the help of speech therapist Logue.
Going back through the centuries, The Other Boleyn Girl made similar use of this grand location for its Tudor story of love, death and deception. The story of the first Queen Elizabeth I continued at the cathedral with Elizabeth: the Golden Age starring Cate Blanchett as the monarch.
St George’s Chapel
In 1952, the King died after his illness progressed and the funeral took place at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. The Crown filmed the funeral of King George VI at London’s Southwark Cathedral, a gothic cathedral build on similar scale to the Buckinghamshire chapel it stands in for.
The exterior of No. 10 Downing Street is rumoured to be John Adam Street, Covent Garden. A lot of shows do use the 19th Century street as a substitute, but The Crown’s Downing Street was actually built on set.
It’s been updated for the Season 3, along with the replica Buckingham Palace gates – and new ‘London streets’.
The plant-filled porch beyond the window gives the impression that The Crown found its Rhodesia filming location in a warmer climate. We are actually looking at an unexpectedly familiar corner of the world – exotic Surrey.
With a storm of red dust added to the air and bright sunlight filtering through the haze, a little corner of Woking was sent south of the equator. The National Shooting Centre’s Canadian Pavilion became the royals’ residence, with the characters shown inside and later in the grounds.
Treetops Lodge, Kenya
Claire Foy’s Princess Elizabeth and Matt Smith’s Prince Philip are shown embarking on a round the world tour in place of the ailing King George VI.
In the scene which sets everything else in motion, Elizabeth finds out that she has become Queen while staying in a remote part of Kenya.
The Crown recreated Treetops Lodge in Cape Town, South Africa, potentially due to the country’s filming regulations and tax breaks.
Cape Town’s Hermanus Old Harbour was used as a filming location for the second season of The Crown, standing in for Corfu and Bermuda.
The Crown’s Balmoral Showground filming location is far from the Highlands, but next door to another of the Queen’s homes.
The scenes were actually shot at Windsor Racecourse, just a couple of miles from Windsor Castle. You can spend a day at the races here, just a stone’s throw from the royal residence and Eton public school.
The Suez Crisis
As the timeline reaches 1956 in Season 2, the Suez Crisis is a major event – and a sign of changing attitudes overseas. Egyptian scenes give us a glimpse of the backlash against British control over the Suez Canal.
The Crown’s Egyptian airport scenes were filmed at a private airport in Cape Town. Wintervogel Airfield isn’t open to the public – its two runways are located on farmland.
Another key Egypt filming location was Cape Town City Hall. It’s seen in the tense sequence where Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser shows his displeasure at the ongoing British presence.
Look out for its elegant granite and honey limestone architecture. But this location’s own role in 20th Century history makes it a landmark in its own right. On his release from prison, Nelson Mandela made his first speech from the City Hall balcony.
Back at Buckingham Palace, Sir Anthony Eden tells the Queen about top secret summits that have taken place in Paris.
We see a glimpse of a chateau – but despite its French aesthetic, the Suez Crisis meeting filming location is in the Home Counties. Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild built Waddesdon Manor in the style of a French chateau, so it’s a fitting choice.
You might already know it as the Downton Abbey Haxby Park location. It’s seen in establishing shots before we see Sir Richard Carlisle and Lady Mary walking through their future home.
Haxby Park interior shots were filmed at another Rothschild construction, Halton House – used for The Crown’s Bois de Boulogne exteriors.
The Crown’s Corfu filming location is actually just around the corner from one of the Bermuda sets. While the Bermuda scenes used King’s Wharf, the Old Harbour was used for Season 2 flashbacks to the 1920s.
As civil unrest threatens the Greek royal family, they flee the island from a small harbour to start their long exile across Europe.
The 19th Century harbour is a National Monument and home to the Old Harbour Museum. Visitors can find out more about its maritime history from the indoor and outdoor areas, including the old sea wall and small boats.
Prince Philip’s Tour
Most of the destinations on Prince Philip’s official tour and visit to Melbourne were recreated in South Africa.
The Tonga beach scenes were shot on South Africa’s Kogel Bay Resort, 40 miles from Cape Town.
Attraction Its name translates as Cannonball Bay, named after the boulders that dot the beach. Mountains rise up in the distance, and it’s a hotspot for whale-watching.
As The Crown’s Tonga location, it’s seen in the montage of Philip’s crew competing in sports matches against the locals.
Bermuda harbour scenes were filmed where else but sunny South Africa again. The real King’s Wharf is part of the Royal Naval Dockyard. It’s home to a museum giving an insight into Bermuda’s complicated history as well as its seafaring heritage.
The Crown’s King’s Wharf filming location was Hermanus New Harbour. Where Hermanus Old Harbour is the model of a traditional fishing village, the New Harbour that overtook it in the mid-20th Century is bustling. Today it’s got everything from whale watching and water sports to hotels and restaurants.
Visually it’s a great match, with the water’s edge coming right up to the grounds of each luxurious resort.
But the show found their Bermuda Government House filming location back in the UK. Interior shots were filmed at Eltham House in Surrey – the same location used for the Britannia’s rooms and Norman Hartnell’s studio.
State Visit to Ghana
The Crown’s Ghana scenes were filmed at South African and English locations, matched together across the miles.
Before the Queen’s visit, we see the Ghanaian president driving into an imposing fort in a sequence filmed at The Castle of Good Hope. In the scene, he’s greeted by his military who wait inside the courtyard.
Later in the episode, the Queen and Prince Philip follow the same route. They step out of their car to a performance of God Save the Queen and look up to see a statue of Queen Victoria, as they approach the president.
Work on the Castle of Good Hope started in 1666, making it the oldest remaining building in South Africa. This imposing former fortress houses the Castle Military Museum and several permanent art exhibitions.
Artwork displayed in the William Fehr Collection dates back to the Dutch colonial settlement and British occupation. The episode’s content makes an appropriate match, touching on the end of the same era.
Shots of Elizabeth dancing with the Ghanaian president, Kwame Nkrumah, were filmed back in the UK at Suffolk’s Elveden Hall. Though you might not guess it from the ornate décor.
“The stunning eastern interiors are a hangover from when the Maharajah of the Punjab, Prince Frederick Duleep Singh owned the hall. He was creating these beautiful rooms in the 1870s.”
Karen Everett, Screen Suffolk Director
When Maharajah Duleep Singh was exiled from the Sikh Kingdom by the British East India Company, he settled in Suffolk. He bought the Elveden estate and commissioned a mansion that echoes the Mughal palaces of his own country.
The estate changed hands after his death, with the future Earl of Iveagh and Viscount of Elveden taking it over.
In the late 20th Century, the family turned some of its land over to Christmas tree production, giving this Crown location an unusual connection with the real House of Windsor.
Elveden Christmas trees are sent to St Paul’s Cathedral, Ely Cathedral and the royal family’s Christmas retreat, Sandringham House.