England’s super sleuths
The weekend saw the release of this summer’s most anticipated blockbuster, The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s final Batman film with Nottingham’s Wollaton Hall taking centre stage as Wayne Manor. England has quite a history mystery-solving characters. 2012 also marks the 50th anniversary of the cinematic release of the first James Bond movie, Dr No. England’s best loved spy has appeared in 22 feature films, with the 23rd film, Skyfall, set to be released later this year.
In celebration, VisitEngland looks at some of the nation’s most notable super sleuths and the eyebrow–raising adventures they have enjoyed across this mysterious land.
The Dark Knight Rises at Wollaton Hall, Nottingham
Wollaton Hall, the historic Elizabethan mansion in Nottingham, was chosen as a key filming location for the new Christopher Nolan film, and will be used for many of the external shots of the ‘rebuilt’ Wayne Manor in the film, that hit UK cinemas last Friday. Filming took place at Wollaton Hall in July 2011, with the cast and crew of the film descending on Nottingham’s most loved historic hall, including Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. A number of scenes were filmed in the grounds and Hall, including a garden party scene at night. A graveyard was also constructed in the grounds for the filming, and a number of internal refurbishments were made to the Hall to create the perfect Wayne Manor. Wollaton Hall and Deer Park is one of Nottingham’s most popular visitor attractions, with over 200,000 visits each year. The site will host a number of Batman-themed events over the coming year to celebrate its role including Family Fun Bat Day picnics when children (and parents!) are encouraged to come dressed as their favourite superhero.
50 Years of Bond
October 2012 marks 50 years since the first James Bond film hit the screens. Since facing off against Dr No in 1962, Sir Ian Fleming’s cunning character has appeared in 22 other films with the 23rd, Skyfall, due to be released on 26 October. The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in the New Forest has one of the biggest collections of bond vehicles in the world including the legendary submarine Lotus from The Spy Who Loved Me and in London you can see the real life HQ of MI6 which stars in both Golden Eye and The World Is Not Enough. For a thrilling bond-style ride, take a high-powered boat trip past MI6 with London Rib Voyages. Additionally, the anniversary of the James Bond franchise will be marked at the Barbican with a fascinating exhibition exploring the inside story of the design and style of the world’s most iconic movie brand in Designing 007 – 50 Years of Bond Style.
Sherlock Homes’ London Connections
Grab your deerstalker and take a Sherlock Holmes tour of London, exploring places featured in the books, real sites that inspired Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as locations featured in film and TV adaptations of the detectives’ great adventures. Locations featured in the film adaptations include Somerset House, The Strand, the historic Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich and outside the capital in Bourne Wood’s ancient woodland. Additionally, you can step back in time and visit one of the world’s most famous addresses, 221b Baker Street, the official home of Sherlock Homes and the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson lived at 221b Baker Street between 1881-1904, according to the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The house is protected by the government due to its “special architectural and historical interest”. The 1st floor study overlooking Baker Street is still faithfully maintained for posterity as it was kept in Victorian Times. This is a must for real fans of Holmes and Watson!
Agatha Christie’s English Riviera
One of the most loved English authors is celebrated annually in a festival dedicated to the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie, who created the iconic characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Ever since actor David Suchet tweeted that ITV would be filming the last five of Agatha Christie’s Poirot books in early 2012, there has been speculation over whether the English Riviera would be playing a starring role. This final outing for Christie’s dapper Belgian detective includes Dead Man’s Folly, based on Christie’s own home Greenway at Galmpton, near Brixham. Greenway was her family’s home from the late 1930s until it was gifted to the National Trust in 2000. Greenway’s boat house is where the first victim is discovered, though in the book Greenway becomes Nasse House. The ferry landing, where the second body is found, is where the Greenway Ferry now drops off fans of ‘The Queen of Crime’ to visit the house which is open to the public. The other novels scheduled for filming are: Labours of Hercules; The Big Four; Elephants Can Remember and Poirot’s final case, Curtain. Fans can enjoy a huge collection of exciting and glamorous ‘Queen of Crime’ events at the next annual Agatha Christie Festival from 9 – 16 September 2012.
Childhood Adventures in the Famous Five’s Dorset
2012 marks several great milestones for British literature, including 70 years since Enid Blyton’s first Famous Five book. One of the best loved English authors, Blyton’s life and works are celebrated annually in a festival dedicated to childhood adventures and lashings of ginger beer. Every year on 11 August, there’s a party in the grounds of Corfe Castle to celebrate the author’s birthday. The Isle of Purbeck countryside in Dorset was a firm favourite with Enid Blyton. The children’s author holidayed there with her family three times a year for 20 years and went on to buy a farm and The Isle of Purbeck Golf Club. Unsurprisingly, the countryside inspired much of her adventure stories and characters and now fans of her work can enjoy an adventure of their own, with a new Famous Five Adventure Trail. Launched in June 2012, the trail is set around the places that Enid Blyton knew well including Corfe Castle, the Swanage Railway and the Victorian Pier in Swanage and participants must solve six clues to solve the mystery. The Trail has been set up by Viv Endecott, who runs the Ginger Pop Shop in Corfe Castle and Eileen Soper’s Illustrated Worlds on Poole Quay, the attraction which brings the books to life.
Robin Hood’s Nottingham
So who was Robin Hood? At the last count there were 12 candidates, ranging from Robyn Hood of Wakefield, West Yorkshire, to Robin of Locksley and the Earl of Huntingdon. If you fancy yourself as lucky number 13, enjoy an authentic Robin Hood experience and pick up the Robin Hood Trail from the Nottingham tourism centre. Here you can discover more about Robin’s arch enemy, Nottingham Castle and the place where he distributed law and order, the Galleries of Justice. You’ll also see the oldest pub in England which would have been a favoured meeting point for soldiers on the Crusades in the time of Richard the Lionheart. Venturing out into the wider county and Sherwood Forest, you can see beautiful scenery with ancient oak trees hundreds of years old and caves where Robin may have hid. Attractions in the area offer invigorating activities like a tree top adventure course and off-road cycling.
Midsomer Murders in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire
If you love nothing better than spending a Sunday evening immersed in a good old detective drama then why not spend a day visiting the locations featured in the fictional but deadly Midsomer Murders. The hit TV show is based on the books by Caroline Graham, and Brit Movie Tours offers you the opportunity to get out and see the associated sites including Causton and Badger’s Drift. The Midsomer Murders Tour will transport you into the charming yet sinister world familiar to DCI John and Tom Barnaby and uncover the real locations that have given the show its distinct character since it was first broadcast in 1997. Starting from London, head to the towns and villages of Midsomer – situated across several English counties including Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire – that have played a role in more than 250 suspicious deaths over the years. The tour visits fairy-tale houses, ancient churches, cosy pubs, charming village greens, quaint stores and grand houses. You will also get your hands on behind-the-scenes information about the show, revealing secrets about all things Midsomer.
Take an Inspector Morse Walking Tour in Oxford
Follow in the footsteps of Oxford’s most celebrated TV detective and his successor, Lewis, created by Oxford author Colin Dexter. Visit the scenes of Inspector Morse’s best-known cases and take a closer investigation into the world of Dexter’s famous detective with Oxford Official Guided Walking Tours. As the setting for both the books and the TV series, Oxford is home to many locations familiar to fans of Morse, Lewis and Hathaway. On a two-hour guided walk around the old city of Oxford you will hear fascinating facts about the colleges, visit the actual locations from the series and get the inside track on the enigmatic detective.
For more inspiration and information on English adventures, visit www.great2012offers.com