TV’s The Crown transforms Somerleyton Hall into Sandringham
- Credit: Courtesy of Des Willie / Netflix
The Crown, Netflix’s ratings topping drama about the Queen’s reign, returned this weekend and there was something familiar about one of its locations. Sandringham, the Queen’s beloved Norfolk royal estate, was recreated by Suffolk’s own Somerleyton Hall, near Lowestoft.
The series, which was inspired by Peter Morgan’s National Theatre stage play, The Audience, follows the Queen’s life from the 1940s and has now reached the early eighties and has introduced Margaret Thatcher , played with chilling accuracy by Gillian Anderson, and Lady Diana Spencer who is recreated in a look-and-voice perfect way by actress Emma Corrin.
Olivia Colman, plays the Queen with Tobias Menzies as Prince Philip, and Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret.
The new season looks at Prince Charles’ ambivalent courtship of Lady Diana Spencer and Margaret Thatcher’s brusque relationship with The Queen and the Royal Family in general. Scenes at Sandringham were recreated at Somerleyton Hall, near the Oulton Broads, at the end of last year before the Coronavirus pandemic struck.
Several key scenes were shot at the Suffolk mansion as this is where the Queen regularly spends Christmas. Dramatically it works because the festive season is traditionally the only time when the entire Royal Family gather together for an extended period and in these latest episodes get to know the sooner to be Princess of Wales.
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Writer Peter Morgan knows the dynamics of these scene better than most as he also penned the critically acclaimed film The Queen with Helen Mirren making a huge impression as the monarch coming to terms with the death of Princess Diana and Michael Sheen reprising his role as Tony Blair trying to steer the nation through a period of national mourning.
Season Four of The Crown allows viewers to see the start of Diana’s life with the Royal Family and how the Queen welcomed her into ‘The Firm’.
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Scenes shot at Somerleyton provide evidence of how a normal, family life was important and very necessary for those constantly in the public spotlight. The house at Somerleyton makes for a good double for Sandringham as they share many similar Jacobean/Victorian rebuild characteristics.
Somerleyton Hall was remodelled by Prince Albert’s star architect, John Thomas, who also worked extensively on the Houses of Parliament and Somerleyton Hall has long been regarded as one of the finest Victorian stately homes in the country. Film-makers made great use of the different styles to be found within the building, from a grand Victorian ballroom to an elegant 1920s library.
The Crown is currently screening on Netflix