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Unsurprisingly, Dorset has set the scene for many a great novel and film. Here are our top 7 famous locations for film and literature around Dorset where you’ll also find a dream array of properties for your staycation.

1. Mapperton House and Gardens 

Mapperton Ponds

‘Rebecca’ starring Lily James and Armie Hammer is part filmed at the estate. The award-winning gardens are showcased and set the scene for the party and cafe, filmed by the ponds and the orangery.

‘Emma’, starring Gwyneth Paltrow was filmed in the glorious setting of Mapperton Gardens in 1996. Mapperton was also used as the principal location for the film ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, an adaption of Thomas Hardy’s novel.

The stunning manor house and gardens are perfectly located in the tumbling green hills of Beaminster and are both definitely worth a visit. The house is described by Country Life Magazine as being ‘The Nations’ Finest Manor House’. The gardens are breathtakingly beautiful and it is no wonder they have been used as film locations. With a perfectly manicured croquet lawn, a formal topiary and romantic valley garden, they made the perfect setting for some beautiful scenes.

If you are renting a seaside cottage on the coast in West Bay or Burton Bradstock, then we would highly recommend you drive 7 miles inland and pay a visit to this famous Dorset film location. Alternatively you can view cottages in Beaminster here.

2. The Cobb at Lyme Regis 

Lyme Regis

That famous scene from The French Lieutenant’s Woman saw Meryl Streep standing on the Cobb wall. Her dark flowing cape with the waves crashing all around, made the Cobb at Lyme Regis world famous.

Ammonite is inspired by the life of British paleontologist, Mary Anning starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan.

3. Portland Harbour, Weymouth and surrounding areas 

Portland Harbour, Castletown, Lyme Regis and Kimmeridge were all used in the sixties comedy, The Boat That Rocked. The boat scenes were filmed on the former Dutch hospital ship Timor Challenger, which was moored in Portland Harbour. The film stars Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost and Philip Seymour Hoffman and is directed by Richard Curtis of Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually.

Weymouth Harbour heavily featured in Dunkirk starring Harry Styles, Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy. The north harbour side was full of actors in war-time clothing, vintage cars and vans along with boats from the second world war.

4. Abbotsbury Swannery 


Shots of the swamps and reed beds of Abbotsbury Swannery and the thousands of nesting mute swans were used as the setting of the entrance to the Weasley family home in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

5. Jane Austen

Cobb at Lyme

Jane Austen arrived in Lyme Regis in the summer of 1804 and remained here with her parents after her sister Cassandra and brother Henry moved to Weymouth. Jane Austen would write in her letters to Cassandra, all the things that she had seen and done in the town including walking on the Cobb and dancing in the Assembly Rooms. Her last novel ‘Persuasion’ was part set in Lyme Regis and in the book, in chapters 11 and 14, the characters describe the holiday resort when it is out of season.

6. Thomas Hardy

Hardys Cottage

Thomas Hardy, internationally renowned poet and novelist, famously spent most of his life in Dorset and used the setting for his famous novels including ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ and ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’.

Hardy’s Cottage, near Dorchester is now owned by the National Trust and is a lovely place to visit if you are staying in a Dorset holiday. The rooms in the cottage, from the cosy parlour to Granny’s Kitchen are as they would have been whilst Hardy lived there, looking out at the stunning English countryside and writing his great novels such as ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ and ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’.

7. Enid Blyton

Corfe Castle

Enid Blyton stayed in Purbeck regularly and some of her best work was inspired by the area. There is a shop ‘Ginger Pop’ in the pretty village of Corfe which has been entirely devoted to Enid Blyton’s writing.

Enid Blyton used the Purbeck countryside as the setting for the Famous Five stories with the five children arriving home from boarding school for the holidays straight off the steam train at Corfe Castle.