Dear readers, like many historical romance aficionados, I couldn’t wait for the first season of “Bridgerton” to premiere. While not a huge fan of Julia Quinn’s novels, I still appreciated certain characters (looking at you Kate and Penelope!) and their witty rejoinders. Season one was a mostly diverting, day-long binge during the Christmas season of 2020 when my blue velvet sofa was as far as I traveled because of COVID protocols.
Fast forward a year later, and anticipation is brewing for “Bridgerton” season two. Like the book series, Lord Anthony Bridgerton, the eldest son of the clan, and his enemy-turned-lover Kate Sharma, neé Sheffield, are the focus of the second installment. The first season was awash in pastel colors, lavish gowns, textiles made in India, and erotic imagery. While I would have much preferred seeing Mary Balogh’s more heartfelt “Slightly” series on the small screen (who can’t adore honorable Wulfric, the Duke of Bewcastle?), I nevertheless enjoyed the diverse nature of Shondaland’s retelling of the “Bridgerton” books.
While we await the second season’s arrival on March 25, dear reader, you can live out your “Bridgerton” fantasy in these romantic British locales. Some of them were actual “Bridgerton” filming locations while others featured in the much-loved 1995 BBC adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice.”
So where was “Bridgerton” filmed? London, Mayfair to be precise, is often the locale of choice for Regency romances. During the Napoleonic Era, Mayfair housed the upper echelons of society—nearly 70 percent of the first tenants were titled—far removed from the slums of St. Giles and Whitechapel. Today, Mayfair is still a tony address with verdant Hyde Park on one side and Grosvenor Square at its center. Mayfair was a natural choice as a “Bridgerton” filming location.
While the glittering ton balls are no more, visitors can still expect aristocratic citizens strolling the streets in their finery. Head to Grosvenor Square, the second-largest garden oasis in London, which dates back to 1726. Landscape architect John Alston created the green space for the landed gentry, who longed for their pastoral country estates when the hectic season was in full swing.
While most Regency tomes are set in London, Bath is often their second city. The elderly and inform transformed it into a popular resort during the Prince Regent’s time.
In 1774, John Wood built the iconic Royal Crescent, a curving row of 30 connected Palladian homes. One of the homes doubled as the Featherington manse in the series while the famous Bath assembly rooms—incomparable to Almacks, naturally—functioned as the Danbury mansion.
Today, the Bath Preservation Trust owns No. 1 Royal Crescent, which is a museum highlighting how residents lived during the Georgian era. And No. 15 is the Royal Crescent Hotel, the ideal spot to lay your head and think of England. It’s the perfect “Bridgerton” location.
One hour south of Bath lies the town of Salisbury, famous for its cathedral. But it’s Wilton House, home to the Earls of Pembroke since the 16th century, that features in our story, dear reader. The expansive residence appeared in 1995’s Sense and Sensibility, 2004’s Pride and Prejudice, season two of “Outlander,” 2019’s Emma, and five seasons of “The Crown.”
In “Bridgerton,” the exterior served as Hyde Park and St. George’s Cathedral, both London locations. Hastings House and Clyvedon Castle showcased the mansion’s interiors. Guests can revisit the estate this Easter. Explore the portrait gallery featuring Van Dykes and Rubens, as well as 17th-century staterooms. Don’t forget to meander around the 14,500 acres.
“Bridgerton” is not the first Regency romance to delight readers. “Pride and Prejudice,” Jane Austen’s iconic tome about love, marriage, and money during the Peninsular Wars, wears that crown. While many Austenites debate which film version of the book is the best (my vote goes to the Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth adaption), few argue about Pemberley’s significance in Elizabeth Bennet’s about-face towards Mr. Darcy.
Austen describes the manse as “a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills…Its banks were neither formal nor falsely adorned.” The estate at Lyme Park south of Disley can be described the same way. The United Kingdom’s National Trust operates the Elizabethan mansion, which doubled as the expansive yet welcoming Pemberley in the 1995 adaptation.
Regency fanatics adore Lyme for its gorgeous grounds and interiors, such as the Knight’s Bedroom, which boasts secret passageways. Tour the estate and follow it up with afternoon tea at the Salting Room. Don your favorite bonnet and nibble on delicious scones as you wait for your Duke of Hastings to arrive.