The solution was to choose specific prestige locations in London and then roam the countryside of the south-east (without, funnily enough, using the novel’s setting of Kent) and a little further afield. Here’s David Kennaway’s guide to the places we’ll see behind the fog and frockcoats of Great Expectations.
As in any adaptation of Great Expectations, one of the most striking locations is the home of Miss Havisham, left to fall into ruin after she is jilted at the altar. For this, the production created a composite of three parts, starting with the exterior and gated courtyard of the grand house Myles Place on West Walk, close to Salisbury Cathedral. For the interiors, some were built in studios but other parts were filmed at Shirburn Castle, near Watlington in Oxfordshire. This moated castle dates back to the 14th century and was home to the Earls of Macclesfield, the first of which remodelled it in Georgian style. It’s since been used for films including Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Philomena, as well as TV staples Inspector Morse, Midsomer Murders and Poirot. As Kennaway points out, the room we see with a tree growing through the wall is from the studio portion: “We didn’t think it would be a good idea to stick a tree in a several-million-pound house,” he says.
Shirburn Castle also provided several exteriors, including the backyard at Miss Havisham’s house where Pip fights Herbert Pocket, and also parts of the village where Pip lives with Joe Gargery and his sister, using outhouses that were dressed as cottages.
Much of Pip’s village was recreated at Oxenford Farm, near Elstead in Surrey. This is a working farm, producing Christmas trees as well as beef cattle, but it has an impressive screen CV that includes the films Wolfman and Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, due to the presence of a series of buildings designed in the Gothic revival style by the famed Augustus Pugin in the 1840s. Here, the buildings became the inn and the schoolhouse, and the farm also provided Joe’s blacksmith shop.