Cornwall on Film – Discover Ten Cornish movie locations

Each year hundreds of tourists a drawn to Cornwall. Many of them have come to know the county through TV programmes such as Poldark and Doc Martin. These series’ showcase some of county’s most beautiful locations. But what about the Big Screen? Where in Cornwall has featured in the movies? This article will help you to discover some of the locations in Cornwall that have popped up in film over the years.

So in no particular order here is my pick of films featuring Cornish towns, villages, beaches and beauty spots. Hopefully there are some on the list that will surprise you!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

In the summer of 2014 the tiny hamlet of Portholland on the Roseland Peninsula became the focus of the world’s media when Tim Burton came town! Portholland however is hardly a town, just 12 houses huddle down to the coast.

And it is this coast that featured in the magical film, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The film stared Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, Ella Purnell, Judi Dench, and Samuel L. Jackson. Portholland was used for the scenes shot in and around the island.

During filming some of the stars including the director Tim Burton and the actor Rupert Everett were photographed at work. Photographer Julia McIntosh, who happened to live in the village, even managed to get Mr Burton to pose for a couple of portraits.

Ladies in Lavender (2004)

Written and directed by Charles Dance, Ladies in Lavender which also stared Judy Dench was filmed in 2003 mostly in West Cornwall.

Set in the summer of 1936 Prussia Cove, Bessy’s Cove, Cadgewith and Penzance featured. When the two sisters are in the car they were in fact on Church Street in Helston.

In the film aging spinster sisters Ursula (Judi Dench) and Janet (Maggie Smith) discover a young man (Daniel Brühl) near death on the beach in a small Cornish fishing village. They discover that he is a violinist from Krakow, Poland, who had been swept off an ocean liner on which he was sailing to a fresh start in America.

Summer in February (2013)

This romantic drama stars Dominic Cooper, Emily Browning, Dan Stevens, Hattie Morahan and Nicholas Farrell. It focuses on the true story of the love triangle between British artist Alfred Munnings, his friend Gilbert Evans and Florence Carter-Wood in early 20th-century Cornwall.

The film feature various locations in Cornwall including Penzance, Trereife House, Lamorna and Prussia Cove.

Holywell Bay, a favourite with Poldark, was used for a horse race while Porthcurno provided the backdrop for the beach party.

Johnny English (2003)

Rowan Atkinson at his hilarious best. Don’t blink when you watch the trailer I’ve put below though.

You should spot our very own St Michael’s Mount posing as the exterior of villain Pascal Sauvage’s French chateau in this comedy spy thriller.

Alice in Wonderland (2008)

In 2008 around 400 cast and crew from London and America flocked to Antony House in North Cornwall to film Walt Disney’s remake of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. The eighteenth century house and it’s atmospheric grounds made the perfect location for the Tim Burton film.

Charlestown also appeared as the dock from which Alice sails away. Starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway the remake about the wonderful world of Alice was released in 2010.

Saving Grace (2000)

Brenda Blethyn stars as Grace Trevethen, a suitably Cornish name. Her husband has just jumped out of a plane without a parachute and Grace has been left with a manor on the Cornish Coast. The manor is in fact the beautiful Wetherham Manor in St Tudy.

Filmed around Port Isaac, Boscastle and Trebarwith Strand, Grace finds herself having to use some innovative measures when she discovers she has also inherited a massive debt which her husband had been secretly amassing.

Keeping Mum (2005)

This black comedy stars Rowan Atkinson and Maggie Smith again, as well as Kristin Scott Thomas and Patrick Swayze.

The main filming was took place in the village of in St Michael Penkevil as Little Wallop. Rowan Atkinson stars Walter Goodfellow vicar of the village who’s bored wife (Kristin Scott Thomas) is flirting with her American golf instructor (Patrick Swayze). He also fails to notice his daughter’s revolving set of boyfriends or that his son has become a target for bullies.

Grace Hawkins (Maggie Smith), the new housekeeper, decides to act to resolve the family’s problems.

James Bond: Die Another Day (2002)

It has to be said that the Eden Project makes an amazing backdrop for this classic Bond thriller.

Starring Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry and Rosamund Pike this is the 12th film in the Bond series. As well as Iceland and Cadiz, Cornwall is featured in some of the key scenes. When Brosnan lands on the North Korean beach he was in fact on Holywell Bay. The Eden Project doubles as Gustav Graves’ diamond mine.

World War Z (2013)

This one is a bit tenuous but there was a time when Brad Pitt was in Falmouth. He and his then wife, Angelina Jolie famously stayed at the Nansloe Manor near Helston during the filming of World War Z.

Credit: Falmouth Packet

Some scenes from this action movie were shot inside Falmouth’s docks, on board RFA Argus and the SD Salmoor, an admiralty salvage vessel. The crew also filmed out to sea in Falmouth harbour.

The Witches (1990)

The Headland Hotel in Newquay was the setting for the 1990 film of Roald Dahl’s hugely popular book The Witches.

Anjelica Huston plays a suitably frightening Grand High Witch, who is planning on turning the world’s children in to mice! Apparently Rowan Atkinson, who played the hotel manager, caused a bit of Mr Bean type disaster when he left the bath taps running in his room. Unfortunately the flood damaged much of the production team’s electrical equipment that was in the room below.

Since the film’s release the hotel says it has seen thousands of guests every year from around the world. All wanting to see the filmset for themselves!

Of course, there are many more films that have featured this beautiful county. I had lots to chose from but I really hope you’ve enjoyed my picks. And why not get out and visit a few of the locations!

I provide all the content on this blog completely FREE, no subscription fee. If however you enjoy my work and would like to contribute something towards helping me keep researching and writing about Cornwall’s amazing history and places you can donate below. Thank you!

Futher reading:

Cornwall’s Social Media Stars – who to follow . . .

Ten of Cornwall’s most photogenic beauty spots

I provide all the content on this blog completely FREE, there's no subscription fee. If however you enjoy my work and would like to contribute something towards helping me keep researching Cornwall's amazing history and then sharing it with you then you can DONATE BELOW. Thank you!

3 thoughts on “Cornwall on Film – Discover Ten Cornish movie locations

  1. Thanks. I hadn’t really paid attention to the location in several of the films you mentioned that I had seen. I am going to start noticing location.

  2. Brings back memories of my first visit to the Eden Project, when there were big cables running along the paths of the tropical biome and huge lights stored behind the plants. When we asked a member of staff, they told us a James Bond movie was being filmed ‘after-hours’. Was that really 17 years ago!
    Also, I loved the book of Summer in February and enjoyed the film too, except I have a gripe about one location they used. When Gilbert visits Florence’s grave in the film (sorry if that’s a spoiler), you can see waves crashing in the background – the location is clearly Gunwalloe Church. However, Florence (aka ‘Blote’) is buried in Sancreed churchyard, and Sancreed is a ‘land-locked’ parish!

Leave a Reply