Fascinated by the goings on of the Tudor court in Becoming Elizabeth? Then you'll certainly enjoy exploring both the real Tudor Bristol and the parts of Bristol that doubled up as filming locations in the series and other period dramas set in the same era.

STARZ's original Tudor drama explores the untold story of the early life of England’s most iconic Queen, Elizabeth I. Episodes are added weekly to the online streaming service; available in the UK on Apple TV, Rakuten TV, Roku and as an add-on channel to your Amazon Prime Video account. The production was predominantly filmed on a network of beautifully detailed period sets built at Bristol’s Bottle Yard Studios between September 2020 and January 2021. Filming also took place on location, assisted by Bristol Film Office.

Thornbury Castle

Building work began on this grand castle in 1511 – it was intended as a home for Edward Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham and was almost finished by 1521, when the Duke’s distant cousin, Henry VIII, accused him of treason, had him beheaded and confiscated his castle. Fourteen years later, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn enjoyed a ten-day retreat at Thornbury Castle as part of a honeymoon tour.

It’s now a truly unique hotel offering spectacular rooms and a great restaurant. For some truly regal splendour, book a stay in the Henry VIII suite or in the Catherine of Aragon suite, which boasts the largest hotel bed in the country!

The King Henry VIII suite at Thornbury Castle

Image - Thornbury Castle

Bristol Cathedral

While the beautiful Bristol Cathedral predates the Tudors' ascent to the throne by a few hundred years, the ornate building was used for scenes in Becoming Elizabeth and also doubled up as Westminster Abbey in the adaptation of Wolf Hall. For the latter show, the cathedral travelled back in time to host the crowning of Anne Boleyn. While we can’t guarantee any royal weddings, the cathedral is one of Bristol’s most fascinating buildings with almost a thousand years of history to explore.

Bristol Cathedral nave

Image - Bristol Cathedral

The Red Lodge Museum

Bristol is lucky enough to have its own Tudor gem – The Red Lodge. Tucked away on Park Row, it was originally built on the site of an old priory by John Young, a courtier to Henry VIII and then his daughter, Queen Elizabeth.

While most of its original grounds are now home to the modern city, the walled garden offers a haven of calm and is an excellent example of a re-created Elizabethan-style knot garden. The lodge itself has seven rooms over two floors, telling the history of the house, from its Tudor origins and includes the last complete Tudor room in the UK – so something you won’t find anywhere else!

Entry is free and booking in advance is advised but not essential.

Four-poster bed at the Red Lodge Museum

Image - The Red Lodge Museum

Berkeley Castle

Berkeley Castle dates back to the 12th century and is still the home of the Berkeley family today. It's had many royal connections over the centuries, including hosting Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn during their summer progress of 1535. Queen Elizabeth I is also thought to have played bowls on the large green, which you can still see today. 

The castle is open to visitors from April to October when you can explore its remarkable spaces, from the medieval larders to a magnificent great hall. With its exceptional architecture and storied past, it's no surprise Berkeley Castle is a coveted filming location for producers of period pieces. It appears in Becoming Elizabeth and also starred in fellow Tudor dramas The Other Boleyn Girl and Wolf Hall. 

Beautiful gardens with flower borders, a lily pond and sweeping lawns surround the castle, with an especially spectacular display of blooms during June and July.

Berkeley Castle

Image - Berkeley Castle

St Mary Redcliffe Church

"The fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in England" is how Queen Elizabeth I described St Mary Redcliffe Church when she visited in 1574. Many visitors would agree with her sentiments, as they marvel at the church's beautiful Gothic architecture. 

The Queen's connection to St Mary Redcliffe went beyond complimentary words. She did the church a great favour by restoring funds that were confiscated during the Reformation period and its school was founded as Queen Elizabeth's Free Grammar and Writing School when she granted it a royal charter in 1571. 

St Mary Redcliffe Church

Image - St Mary Redcliffe Church

John Cabot and The Matthew

In 1497 John Cabot and his 18 man crew set sail from Bristol under the commission on Henry VII to find a new trade route to Asia. Instead however he arrived on the coast of Newfoundland and therefore was the original discoverer of North America, not Christopher Columbus as most people believe.

To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Cabot’s voyage of discovery, a replica of The Matthew was built and in 1997 the new Matthew followed the same course as John Cabot to Newfoundland.

Today The Matthew is based in Bristol Harbour and is open to the public as well as undertaking short cruises around the harbour, some complete with fish and chips or afternoon tea! It’s also a genuine star of the screen and has been featured in many films and TV programmes, including Netflix film The King and World War II film Another Mother's Son. 

The Matthew on the harbour

Image - The Matthew, credit Jim Cossey

Wells Cathedral

Filming for Becoming Elizabeth also took place in the UK's smallest city, with both the stunning Wells Cathedral and the neighbouring Bishop's Palace and Gardens featuring in the show. It's not the first time Wells has appeared in Tudor-inspired film and TV. Scenes in Wolf Hall and the adaptations of Philippa Gregory's The Spanish Princess and The White Prince were also filmed here. 

Wells Cathedral at dusk

Image - Wells Cathedral

Acton Court

Acton Court is a restored Tudor house in South Gloucestershire and was owned by The Poyntz family from 1364 until 1680. Nicholas Poyntz (died 1557) added the East Wing onto the existing moated manor house shortly before 1535 which was then lavishly and fashionably decorated to impress Henry VIII. The King and Anne Boleyn stayed in the house in 1535, during a tour of the West Country.

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Bristol Cathedral
Cathedral/Minster
Bristol Cathedral

Much more than a fascinating building, being a fine example of a hall church, it is a centre of Bristol's history, civic life and culture.

The Matthew
Historic Ship
The Matthew Bristol

Based in Bristol’s floating harbour for much of the year, the Matthew is popular for harbour tours as well as longer sailing trips.

Thornbury Castle
Hotel
Thornbury Castle

Thornbury Castle is a beautiful 16th century building, which was once owned by Henry VIII and stands in 15 acres of regal splendour, surrounded by Tudor Walled Gardens.

The Red Lodge Museum
Historic House/Palace
The Red Lodge Museum interior

A historic Elizabethan house, with a stunning walled garden and many original or otherwise completely restored features.

Berkeley Castle
Castle/Fort
Aerial shot of Berkeley Castle Bristol

Berkeley Castle is a beautiful and historic Castle, begun in 1117 and still remains the home of the Berkeley family. It is a great day-out for all the family, hosting special events on bank holidays and during school holidays