The Famous Five: The Curse of Kirrin Island Filming Locations

Article by Jane

December 30th, 2023

The Famous Five: The Curse of Kirrin Island filming locations include Gloucester Cathedral Crypt, Cloisters and Quire, Eastnor Castle, Tyntesfield, Llanover, Port Gaverne and Port Isaac.

The Famous Five: The Curse of Kirrin Island is a new adventure based on the original Enid Blyton books. Made for the BBC and German broadcaster ZDF, the series introduces a new generation to George (Diaana Babnicova), Julian (Elliott Rose), Dick (Kit Rakusen), Anne (Flora Jacoby Richardson), and Timmy the dog. We also meet Aunt Fanny (Ann Akinjirin) and Quentin (James Lance), and the shifty Wentworth (Jack Gleeson).

Blyton wrote 21 Famous Five novels, starting with Five on a Treasure Island in 1942. The island in the novel is Kirrin Island, the same island featured in the new CBBC Famous Five mystery.

Enid Blyton was inspired by Dorset and it’s thought that Corfe Castle is Kirrin Castle, which appears in Five on a Treasure Island. Kimmeridge Bay, the Isle of Purbeck and Brownsea Island in Dorset are all said to represent locations for the original Famous Five stories. This time, the stories and filming locations take inspiration from the classics but give us new adventures and places to explore with the gang.

Where Was The Famous Five: The Curse of Kirrin Island Filmed?

Kirrin Island
The Famous Five: The Curse of Kirrin Island was filmed in the South West and Wales in Cornwall, the Brecon Beacons, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Herefordshire. Filming took place in summer 2023, with studio sets adding to an impressive number of real locations you can visit.

And you might have seen some of these locations onscreen before. Port Isaac is famous as the filming location for Doc Martin and the Fisherman’s Friends films. Meanwhile, Gloucester Cathedral has Harry Potter, Doctor Who and countless historical dramas to its name.

The Famous Five 2023 Locations

Kirrin Cottage

George’s house location in The Famous Five 2023 is Ffawydden Cottage on the Llanover Estate in the Brecon Beacons, Wales. Exterior shots show George’s family and the Famous Five in the garden of the cottage. It’s available as a holiday cottage, so you can stay in this Famous Five filming location!

The real cottage offers views of the Brecon Beacons National Park, and the Severn Estuary is only a short distance away. But there’s a bit of screen magic going on here. The interior of George’s house was all built in the studio, and this white cottage is not really on the clifftops. In fact, it would take you three hours to travel from George’s cottage to the beach below.

The Beach

Port Gaverne Port Gaverne. Port Gaverne by Derek Harper, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
The Famous Five beach location is Port Gaverne Beach, which sits in a cove about half a mile east of Port Isaac. It’s currently owned by the National Trust, who also own several cottages at the top of the cliffs surrounding the bay. They’re available as holiday lets, for anyone who wants to stay at this Famous Five location.

Sailing Scenes

The Famous Five 2023’s sailing scenes were filmed in the water off Port Gaverne. Port Isaac Bay Holidays caught filming in progress at the seaside location in June 2023, while the boats were in the water for the shoot.

Kirrin Island

The Kirrin Island locations in the new Famous Five series are in Cornwall, near Port Isaac. Like the beach and sailing scenes, the island scenes were filmed in summer 2023 around the popular county.

“The locations have been great, we've been to Cornwall where we filmed the outside scenes on Kirrin Island. It was amazing, so beautiful, the cliffs and water were so pretty.”
Flora Jacoby Richardson, Anne, BBC

Steam Railway

The Famous Five: The Curse of Kirrin Island railway scenes were filmed on location using a real train.

“We started filming in Cornwall, on the beach, where we did some sailing. Then we filmed on a train, which was so much fun. We couldn’t stop laughing as the train kept moving us about.”
Diaana Babnicova, George, BBC

In the first episode of the new CBBC Enid Blyton series, the children and Timmy travel to London to central London in search of an important tomb. Blink and you’ll miss it! But it sets the scene nicely in this mid-20th Century adventure.

Temple Church

Gloucester Cathedral Cloister Garden Gloucester Cathedral Cloister Garden. Bob&Anne Powell, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Gloucester Cathedral is the Famous Five Temple Church location in The Curse of Kirrin Island. In the first of three new Famous Five films, the kids take the train to central London to visit a church connected with the Kirrin Island mystery.

They’re really in thousand-year-old Gloucester Cathedral in the Cotswolds, adding another Famous Five West Country filming location to the list.

Filming for the BBC Famous Five adventure came to the city in early July, as reported by Gloucestershire Live.

In The Curse of Kirrin Island’s London church scenes, we see several areas of Gloucester Cathedral’s exterior and interior.

The exterior has been seen in Doctor Who – find it in the Jodie Whittaker era’s Fugitive of the Judoon and David Tennant’s 10th Doctor Christmas Special, The Next Doctor.

After passing the outer walls, the Famous Five run through the Cloister Garden, crossing diagonally before entering the cathedral.

They’re mostly seen in the Quire, one of the grandest parts of the cathedral. Its Great East Window is the same size as a tennis court, and was the largest in the world when it was installed in 1350.

But Julian, George, Dick, Anne and Timmy don’t have time to admire the scenery – they’re on a mission to save Kirrin Island! Soon they run back through the Cloister and Lavatorium.

These famous filming locations have been seen in numerous films and series including Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Mary Queen of Scots, The Spanish Princess, Catherine Called Birdy, and Wolf Hall.

The Crypt

The underground crypt scenes were filmed in Gloucester Cathedral’s own crypts. Gleeson, who plays Wentworth, spoke to the BBC about his experiences on location for The Curse of Kirrin Island in the new adapation.

“My first day was in Gloucester Cathedral down in the crypts. Just as a tourist and someone who's interested in those kinds of places, to be able to have privileged access was incredible and I think it will look amazing on screen.”
Jack Gleeson, Thomas Wentworth, BBC

Wentworth’s House

Eastnor Castle Eastnor Castle, Eastnor by Stephen Richards, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Wentworth’s house location in The Famous Five 2023 is a combination of Tyntesfield in Somerset and Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire. National Trust Tyntesfield confirmed their appearance when the new Enid Blyton series aired on CBBC in December 2023.

These are some highlights of the villain’s house locations in The Curse of Kirrin Island.

The Library

The Famous Five library location is Eastnor Castle, Ledbury, Herefordshire. Look out for it during the Templar meeting scene, when the friends are given slices of cake in front of the fireplace before making a run for it.

In fact, the Long Library is known as a highlight of Eastnor Castle, a 19th Century stately home in the Malvern Hills. The Grade II-listed building, including the library recently appeared in HBO’s Succession.

In 1986 and 2021, the castle was the filming location for separate productions of The Canterville Ghost. Back in 1994, it appeared in Box of Delights, and in 1995, Eastnor Castle became the location for Little Lord Fauntleroy.

The BBC children’s series was adapted by Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes and starred Michael Benz, who would appear in Downton Abbey: the London Season almost 20 years later.

You can visit the Famous Five 2023 castle location easily – it’s free to Historic Houses members at he time of writing, and dogs are welcome. But check all the details, dates and prices before you set out on your own Enid Blyton adventure.

The Staircase

Tyntesfield Tyntesfield. Chilli Head from Weston-super-Mare, UK, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
The Famous Five: The Curse of Kirrin Island location for the mansion staircase is Tyntesfield in North Somerset. In the scene, the friends are discovered at the foot of the staircase by Wentworth after sneaking out of the library.

Tyntesfield is a Gothic Revival house near Bristol, which was once the private home of the Gibbs family. They took on the existing Georgian property, Tyntes Place, in 1844, and remodelled it in the popular Victorian style.

The family fortune was built in Peru and involved questionable working conditions. But today, Tyntesfield is a National Trust property you can visit to view the craftsmanship of the property’s wood panelling, gardens and book collection.

Wentworth’s House Entrance

At the end of Wentworth’s Templar meeting scene in The Famous Five: The Curse of Kirrin Island, the house entrance location is Eastnor Castle. Once again, we’re at the Herefordshire filming location and real life home to the Hervey-Bathurst family.

This time we get a look at the property’s grand exterior. Despite the castellated turrets and portico, Eastnor Castle is just 200 years old – would you have guessed?