Where is Belgravia filmed?
Discover the stunning Georgian streets and Scottish country houses from the Julian Fellowes drama
By Ali Wood
Tamsin Greig and Alice Eve star in the ITV drama. Photo Carnival Film & TV
Belgravia, the new drama from the creators of Downton Abbey, is a story of secrets and scandals amongst the upper echelons of 19th century London society. Cue sumptuous interiors, sweeping lawns and grand Georgian houses, but where was it all filmed? I’ll give you a clue… not in Belgravia!
The real London district is full of embassies and high-security so location scouts looked all over the country for similar streets, and found what they wanted in Edinburgh.
Moray Place, Moray Gardens and Darnaway Street in the New Town were all used for filming, as well as Parliament Square and City Chambers in the Old Town. Outside of Edinburgh was Hopetoun House in South Queensferry and Manderston House in Duns on the Scottish Borders.
Moray Place during filming at night. The horses were a crack team! Photo by Tom Bostock
One of the most desirable postcodes in Edinburgh, Moray Place is a circular street of four-storey sandstone buildings, surrounding beautiful private gardens. The exteriors of number 9 and 4 were used for the homes of the Trenchards and the Brockenhursts and the Duchess’s bedroom.
The parking spaces and double yellow lines were painted over for filming, and the posts removed, but otherwise that was it; Moray Place looks pretty much as it would have done in the 19th century.
Residents Tom and Elspeth Bostock had quite a surprise when they returned to Moray Place after their holidays and the film crew helped them with their luggage.
“We’ve never had our car unloaded so quickly, as we were right in the middle of filming!” recalls Elspeth.
As well as the main characters there were lots of extras. Photo by Tom Bostock
There were between fifty to a hundred personnel on the cobbles outside, plus horses and carriages. “Because there was a lot of hanging around, they’d tell you all sorts of things,” says Tom. “The most extraordinary thing is that this is Belgravia, not Moray Place. The producer showed me the Photoshopped changes they made.”
Anyone familiar with Edinburgh’s New Town will know exactly what Tom’s talking about. The houses are a warm sandstone (sourced from historic Craigleith quarry – now a shopping centre) whereas the houses in Belgravia are a spotless white, thanks to some clever CGI!
Two full-time gardners are employed to tend the private gardents. Photo by Ali Wood
New benches were installed in the gardens in the middle of Moray Place, and left afterwards as a gift to the residents. There are four private gardens like this, which are owned by the residents and kept shipshape by two full-time gardeners. There’s a play area and barbecue, and they’re very much used and loved. “The particular thing I like is the early summer when everything’s in flower and it looks magnificent!” says Tom.
Click here for a tour of Moray Gardens and Moray Place
Darnaway Street at the junction with Moray Place. Photo by Ali Wood
Leading on to Moray Place is Darnaway Street, which is used for the Harley Street home of Rev Stephen Bellasis, the younger brother of the Earl of Brockenhurst.
Like Moray Place, Darnaway Street is part of Edinburgh’s New Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The buildings include original features such as floor-to-ceiling sash and case windows and detailed cornicing, showing off Georgian architecture at its best.
The graveyard was concreted over and turned into a car park. Photo by Ali Wood
Parliament Square, which surrounds St Giles’ Cathedral on three sides came into existence in 1632 as a forecourt to Parliament House. In Belgravia it’s used for the London city streets of Bishopsgate. Formerly a graveyard to the cathedral, parking lot 23 is where Protestant reformer John Knox is buried – the man who called for the execution of Catholic Mary Queen of Scots!
Edinburgh City Chambers stands in for the bachelor pad The Albany. Photo by Ali Wood
Just across the road from Parliament Square, the City Chambers stands in for The Albany, where John Bellasis lives. In real life The Albany was a prestigious set of bachelor apartments, built in 1776 as a single dwelling, whose residents included the poet Lord Byron and future Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone. Today it’s not restricted to bachelors, though it’s forbidden for children to live there.
Meanwhile, the City Chambers in Edinburgh is the home of the City Council. The similarity between the buildings is quite uncanny!
The Albany by Thomas H Shepherd c1830
Filming in the Old Town happened to coincide with the very first Open Streets – where vehicles are banned in the centre to allow for a series of events to take place. Rosie Ellison of Film Edinburgh booked the filming before the date was announced, so it went ahead anyway.
“I said, I’m sorry we’re going to have to come in,” she says. “There they were in their period costumes and horses and we’re like ‘this is the way to start the Open Streets. This is something to look at!’”
What else has Old Town Edinburgh been in?
What hasn’t it been in! The charming, rambling wynds and alleyways branching off from the Royal Mile have been in a number of high-profile productions from Trainspotting and Outlander to Avengers Infinity War. The latest production to wrap up in Edinburgh’s city centre was the Fast and the Furious 9, which finished filming in September and is out in April 2021. Eye-witnesses described seeing car after car trashed during stunt-scenes, though if the real speed was anything to go by, the special effects team will be applying a fair amount of ‘fast-forward’ to the final cut!
The silver-plated staircase in the opulent Manderston House. Photo by Ali Wood
This elegant stately home in the Scottish Borders town of Duns was used for many of the interior scenes of the Brockenhurst and Trenchard homes. It was actually built in 1905 – half a century later than the setting of Belgravia – but its grand ballroom, silver-plated staircase, library, kitchen and servants’ quarters were all used in filming. Look carefully for the servants’ bells. If they look familiar that’s because they already appeared in Downton Abbey!
Manderston House has been in the family of Lord Palmer since 1855, and is open to the public from 07 May to 27 September 2020, 130pm to 5pm. The gardens are spectacular too, and open from 1130am. Groups of 15 or more are available year-round by appointment.
Click here to see a video of the house and hear what caretaker Paul Sutton has to say about filming – and the spooky doorbell that goes off in the night!
What else has Manderston House been in?
Night filming at Manderston House. Photo by Debbie Sutton
Almost as soon as Belgravia left, the Outlander filming team appeared on the scene, and took over the stables for filming Season 6 of the historical drama based on the books of Diana Gabaldon. The Netflix sequel Princess Switch: Switched Again (2020) was also filmed at Manderston, as well the supernatural drama The Awakening starring Dominic West.
Hopetoun House is used for interior scenes of the Trenchard House. Photo by Ali Wood
This magnificent 17th century stately home in South Queensferry is used for the interiors of the Trenchard House in Brussels in 1815. It’s one of the grandest private homes you’ll find in Scotland, and the present owner, Lord Hopetoun still lives here with his family. It’s a beautiful house – well worth visiting – with vast gardens, nature walks, a great playroom for kids and lovely tea-rooms. Hopetoun House is open to the public from Friday 10 April to Sunday 27 October 20, 1030am to 5pm
What else has Hopetoun been in?
Hopetoun House was also used in the hit TV series Outlander. Photo by Ali Wood
No stranger to the big screen, Hopetoun also had a starring role in the Sony Starz drama Outlander. It was, in fact, too big for the show, so had to have the clock towers digitally removed. In Outlander, Hopetoun House appears as the Duke of Sandringham’s home, the stables at Helwater, Jamie and Claire’s Parisian apartment, and the cobbled streets where Mary and Claire are attacked. Also belonging to the estate is Midhope Castle, a 10-minute drive away, which doubled in the show as Jamie’s home Lallybroch.
For more information on Scotland, see VisitScotland
For more information on Edinburgh, see This Is Edinburgh
For books on exploring Outlander locations, see bit.ly/aliwood
For videos of Belgravia locations and more, see TVTraveller on YouTube