Netflix movie Enola Holmes filmed at Hatfield House
- Credit: ROBERT VIGLASKI /LEGENDARY ©2020
Scenes from new Netflix movie Enola Holmes about Sherlock Holmes’ teenage sister were filmed in Hatfield.
Starring Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown, Superman actor Henry Cavill, and The Crown’s Helena Bonham Carter, Enola Holmes was partly shot on location at Hatfield House.
The Hertfordshire stately home doubles for Basilwether House, residence of the Dowager played by Rising Damp’s Frances de la Tour, with the Marble Hall seen on screen as well as the Armoury and South Front.
Enola Holmes is available to stream now on Netflix.
It’s not the first Sherlock Holmes movie to be filmed in Hatfield.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director Guy Ritchie shot scenes of his 2009 Sherlock Holmes blockbuster starring Robert Downey Jr at Hatfield House.
The production crew returned to Ritchie’s home town for the 2011 sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
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The Hatfield estate was also used for 2015 movie Mr Holmes, starring Ian McKellen as an aged, retired Sherlock, with scenes shot inside the Jacobean mansion and in the gardens.
Hatfield House was also the prime location for filming of The Favourite starring Oscar winner Olivia Colman and Academy Award nominees Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz.
The mansion and its gardens were also used by the Jonas Brothers for filming of their pop video for hit single Sucker.
What is the plot of Enola Holmes?
Over 130 years after the world’s most famous detective made his 1887 debut in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet comes Netflix’s new mystery-adventure about another brilliant member of the Holmes family for a modern generation of armchair sleuths.
As the film’s title suggests, Enola Holmes introduces the world to yes, you’ve deduced correctly, Enola Holmes – Sherlock’s bright, resourceful, spirited younger sister and a budding young detective in her own right.
Set in England in 1884, Enola Holmes follows our titular hero played by Millie Bobby Brown as she embarks on what is essentially her first case.
Raised and educated by her free-thinking and eccentric mother, Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), Enola lives a happy if unconventional life in the countryside.
While most girls her age are learning embroidery and other skills befitting a ‘proper’ young lady, Enola’s education consists of science, cryptology, and martial arts.
But when her mother’s mysterious disappearance prompts Enola to leave the shelter of home behind and wade into the inhospitable waters of the real world in search of her, we see a young woman as equally sharp as her brothers Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin).
In the process, she also outwits her famous brother as she unravels a conspiracy that threatens to set back the course of history.
Based on The Enola Holmes Mystery book series by Nancy Springer, Enola Holmes introduces the world’s greatest detective to his fiercest competition yet – his teenage sister. The game is afoot.
So where was Enola Holmes filmed?
Lord Salisbury’s mansion in Hatfield plays a role in the movie, as production designer Michael Carlin explains.
The penultimate scenes of the film take place in Hatfield House, where supporting crew were set up beneath The Rainbow Portrait – the most famous Tudor painting of Elizabeth I.
“Hatfield House gave us our Basilwether House, home of the Dowager, which is altogether different from the warmth and femininity of Ferndell [the Holmes family estate],” recalls Carlin.
“Everything is just so, symmetrical, quite sparse.
“It’s full of suits of armour and weapons on the walls, it’s fusty and old and massive in an intimidating way.
“There are no flowers at Basilwether.”
As well as Hatfield House, locations used for the movie include the Luton Hoo Estate, Royal Naval College in Greenwich, West Horsley Place in East Sussex, the National Trust’s Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire, and Benthall Hall, Shropshire.
Flashbacks in the Sherlock film serve to show the bucolic bliss of Enola’s upbringing in the gently disintegrating country estate she shared with her mother versus the harsh realities of London.
“In the script there was always this strong contrast between the grime of the city and the utopian greenery where Enola comes from,” says director Harry Bradbeer, “so we played with that as a visual of her journey.
“In most period dramas it is either one or the other. Dickens typically tends to place his narrative in the city while Jane Austen typically places it in the country.
“This combines the two worlds and uses a child’s eye to take us through them both.”
Michael Carlin had some gorgeous English country estates to work with as locations.
“For Ferndell Hall — the Holmes family estate — we used two stately homes. One was Benthall Hall which is a little-known estate in Shropshire which we used as the exterior,” he recalls.
“In the story we have the brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft, arriving home for the first time and Mycroft expressing dismay at the state of their home. He’s been sending his mother money for upkeep but she has more important things to do with the money.
“The gardeners and the people taking care of the house at Benthall were brilliant in allowing the gardens to get really overgrown and letting us drape overgrown vines all over the exterior.”
Emmy and BAFTA Award-winner Bradbeer explains: “The whole idea of Ferndell House is that here is this grand stately squire’s house that has been completely taken over by women, and especially by Eudoria.
“It has a very feminine, eccentric air, filled with plants, her own flower paintings, lace, fabrics. That eccentricity is one of the things that runs through the film in its style and tone.”
The dishevelled West Horsley Place in East Sussex provided the perfect location for the interiors.
The 50-bedroom house, dating back to the 15th century and combining Jacobean architecture with a William and Mary façade, was visited by both Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.
“We were able to have free rein in the house,” recalls Carlin, “using false walls and period wallpaper but there’s a patina of age that you cannot fake.
“We inhabited the house for weeks creating Eudoria’s bedroom, the library, the kitchen and the wonderful unkempt orchard at the back.
“The house is gorgeous but completely overgrown and covered by plant life with real plants and Eudoria’s paintings everywhere.
“We created this feminine world using the natural world as our motif in a very decorative way using these colours of the earth — blues and greens — in direct contrast to the more masculine world in London that Enola encounters.”
For Enola’s arrival in London, the production took over the Greenwich Naval College in London.
“We needed to create a real culture shock for her entering the city for the first time so we built a massive set in Greenwich with a lot of shop facades and gritty streets, hundreds of extras, 30 horses and dozens of vehicles from horse drawn carriages to carts to two-story omni buses with plenty of farmyard animals wandering about.
“We were trying to make it feel like a Victorian version of Midnight Cowboy when the Texan first arrives in New York City.
“It’s a really big scene that establishes her disorientation in a new chaotic world.”
Enola moves through the different layers of the capital until she arrives in the altogether more grimier world of the East End for her dramatic fight with arch villain Linthorn.
“We created the East End among outbuildings at Luton Hoo,” explains Carlin, “where we have Enola encountering poverty for the first time so we have orphans moving through the scene and a sense of real deprivation.
“We did a lot of research based on historical fiction from the time as we moved from the busiest part of the metropolis to the darkest, dingiest part of the city.”
Other UK locations include Ashridge Estate, Arley railway station on the Severn Valley heritage line and Kidderminster station in Worcestershire, and Shirburn Castle.
London locations were Fournier Street, Fitzroy Square, Drum Court and The Reform Club.