Based in Herefordshire, as we are, we’re big fans of the county’s stunning scenery and picturesque villages. Unlike some of its neighbours – the Cotswolds and South Wales to name but two – Herefordshire doesn’t seem to spring to mind when it comes to location scouts looking for a backdrop for the next big film or TV production. We decided to delve into the archives to find out what starring roles the county has enjoyed to date.
Midwinter of the Spirit
Midwinter of the Spirit was a high-profile crime drama first screened by ITV back in 2015. It was both set and filmed throughout Herefordshire including within the city itself.
Based on a book by Hay-on-Wye novelist Phil Rickman, it featured Anna Maxwell Martin as Merrily Winter, a vicar working within the male-dominated world of exorcism.
The plot involved a grisly murder with the action taking place across three episodes in which the cathedral and Hereford hospital were central to the story. Villages that were also featured include Dilywn, Weobley and Dinedor Hill.
The filming alone was estimated to have brought the county an additional revenue of around £100K and it was hoped the series would do for Herefordshire, what Morse has done for Oxford. Sadly, there has been no news about a second series so far.
Eastnor Castle is often chosen as a location for TV, with BBC’s Antiques Roadshow and Flog It both having visited.
It was also used in SKY’s popular female sleuth series – Agatha Raisin. Included amongst its many TV credits is the lavish 2006 Granada TV production of Dracula featuring David Suchet (better known as Poirot) as the vampire-hunting Van Helsing.
Sir Richard Attenborough’s hugely successful biopic about the life of C.S. Lewis also featured Herefordshire in various scenes.
During the film, Lewis (played by Sir Anthony Hopkins) and the love-of-his-life Joy (Debra Winger) opt for a stay at the Pengethley Manor Hotel not far from Ross-on-Wye. Their visit is made ‘en route’ to the county’s Golden Valley.
However, in reality, the producer decided the real location was not picturesque enough and chose Symond’s Yat in the Wye Valley instead.
Herefordshire fares a little better when it comes to literature. Perhaps the greatest claim is that Tolkien’s view of the county from on top of the Malvern Hills provided the inspiration for Middle Earth.
Author Ben Aaronovitch’s fifth novel in the Rivers of London series is entitled Foxglove Summer. Published in 2014, it tells the tale of Peter Grant who leaves London for Herefordshire to find peace and quiet after a major betrayal. However, his rural idyll is shattered when two 11-year-olds go missing and the protagonist gets caught up in the mayhem that ensues.
Mysterie of Glass
Set in the nineteenth century, Mysterie of Glass focuses on a young curate, who has to pick up the pieces of his parish following the sudden death of his father.
Lyonshall provides the backdrop for the story, which charts the curate’s unhappy life as he falls in love with the wrong woman.
The story follows the Huxley family and is set in Herefordshire’s mythical Ryhope Woods.
The plot focuses on Stephen Huxley and his relationship with the enigmatic woods and its magical inhabitants. The book took the title of Best Novel in the World Fantasy Awards in 1985.
Also set in the county is Random Quest, which tells the story of the oddly-named Dr. Harshom. There are just a few members of the family scattered across the UK, but Dr. Harsom lives in Herefordshire and, as the plot unfolds, everyone returns to the county in the search for one Ottilie Harshom.
Everyone tries to lay claim to J.K. Rowling, but Herefordshire has a genuine claim to the literary giant. When she was 9-years-old, she moved with her family to Tutshill and attended Wyedean Comprehensive in her teens.
Some say it was the teachers at this school that inspired the characterisations of the staff at Hogwarts. It was also a Ford Anglia driven by a friend of hers around the county that led to the creation of the flying car, which appears in book two of the Harry Potter series.