How to travel car-free to TV locations forThe Crownaround London and the South East

Royally engaging as ever, The Crown returns to Netflix for a third season, from November 17th 2019, now starring Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies. Here are some of the amazing places where the earlier seasons were filmed. You can get to all these quite easily without a car and will find it’s a rewarding journey even if you don’t happen to be a fan of the series - especially at places that give you money off for arriving by train. Lots of scenes in The Crown take place in Buckingham Palace or Sandringham, but most of the series wasn’t filmed there (partly because the actual Queen is sometimes in residence). Instead, the producers chose a series of picturesque alternative locations, many of which are open to the public and can be part of a right royal car-free day trip.

  1. 4. Audley End, Essex

    Audley End, near the picturesque town of Saffron Walden in Essex, makes a great day out. It has featured several times in The Crown, becoming Balmoral, Windsor and even Eton College in various series. Visitors might recognise the Tudor-style Great Hall and library as backdrops for the young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret.

    • How to get to Audley End car-free: The house is just over a mile from Audley End railway station, a regular stop on the main line from London to Cambridge. And arriving by train gets you 2-for-1 entry with this voucher.
    • The walking route from the station runs beside a busy road so a taxi (about £5 each way) is probably best. It’s a pleasanter walk (see map below) from the centre of Saffron Walden, which is definitely worth a visit too.
    • Audley End is packed with interesting features: a grand Jacobean house with interiors by neoclassical architect Robert Adam and big, picnic-ready grounds by Capability Brown.
    • The beautiful grounds include riverside paths, an organic walled garden with shady vine house and the little ferny, waterlily-floating Pond Garden. There’s good food in the Servants’ Hall tearoom and Saffron Walden ice creams on sale, made just around the corner.
    • For more ideas in the area, see our car-free guide to Saffron Walden.
  1. 5. Trafalgar Square, Central London

    A 1960s war rally in Season 2 of The Crown takes place in Trafalgar Square, which makes a great starting point for a short city stroll, following the map below. Walk through some of London’s Royal Parks to see the real Buckingham Palace and neighbouring Lancaster House – used for several big State Room scenes.

    • Start from Leicester Square and walk along Charing Cross Road past Wyndham’s Theatre the National Portrait Gallery. It’s stuffed with royal photos and paintings and free to visit the permanent collections.
    • Cross Trafalgar Square diagonally, head under Admiralty Arch into the Mall and take a stroll through St James’s Park. Look out for the pelicans whose ancestors were originally a royal gift from the 17th century Russian ruler, Tsar Alexei.
    • You can learn lots more about the historical events in The Crown on a visit to the Churchill War Rooms and more about the royal horse guards at the nearby Household Cavalry Museum.
    • At the far end of the park, you’ll see Buckingham Palace ahead of you and Lancaster House, through trees, on the right. Turn right into Green Park for better views and follow the path to the station.
    • Other London locations include the Lyceum Theatre near Charing Cross, Southwark Cathedral near London Bridge and the Royal Naval College in Greenwich (see 6 below).
  1. 6. Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich

    Posing as the courtyard of Buckingham Palace, the elegant area outside the Royal Naval College in Greenwich has seen plenty of action over the years, including equestrian events in the 2012 Olympics. Christopher Wren’s riverside buildings are London’s most popular film location with everything from James Bond to Four Weddings and a Funeral, Les Miserables and Pirates of the Caribbean finding a backdrop in the vicinity. And it’s not surprising – there are neoclassical colonnades by the Thames and a Painted Hall whose ceiling has been called “Britain’s Sistine Chapel”.

    • The ceiling took James Thornhill nineteen years to paint and recently reopened after a £9 million restoration. There’s a new cafe in the undercroft too.
    • Greenwich Naval College, is open every day. Tours and visits to the Painted Hall costs £12 (£11 online) – the tickets allow you to come back free for a year.
    • How to get to the Royal Naval College car-free: It’s easy to get to by train, tube, bus, bike Docklands Light Railway or even boat! For a simple five minute walk, catch the DLR to the nearby Cutty Sark and walk past the famous boat to the Visitor Centre.
    • For more ideas in the area, try our Woolwich and Docklands adventure, which ends at Greenwich.
  1. 7. Eltham Palace, Greater London

    Not far from Greenwich, in the green expanses of Southeast London, Eltham Palace is a hidden gem. A medieval and Tudor palace, it was remodelled in the Art Deco style by its  1930s owners. Along with the gold mosaic bathroom alcove, inlaid wood panelling and curved windows, it features an elegant domed hall that looks like an ocean liner – so much so that is appears in The Crown as the inside of the Royal Yacht.

    • The palace also supplied other locations in episode 8 of the first season. There are 19 acres of beautiful gardens, with a medieval bridge and moat, a rockery and  sunken rose garden.
    • How to get to Eltham Palace car-free: Mottingham railway station is about half a mile away. Turn left out of the station onto Court Road and left again at the sign for Eltham Palace, following the road ahead. You could get even closer by bus.
    • And get 2 for 1 entry with train tickets and this voucher.
  1. 8. Brighton City Airport, Sussex

    Another Art Deco gem that stars in The Crown is Brighton airport near Shoreham, England’s oldest airport. It features in several scenes, including the Queen arriving back from South Africa after her father’s death, and her trip with Prince Philip to Northern Ireland.

    • How to get there: Shoreham-by-Sea railway station is a mile away and Stagecoach Coastliner bus 700 runs every 10 minutes between Portsmouth and Brighton. It stops ten minutes’ walk away, outside the Longshore pub, in sight of the airport.
    • The 1930s terminal building has a cafe and museum – even an art gallery. There are tours available for £5 (phone 01273 441061 to book).
  1. 9. Hatfield House, Hertfordshire

    The Bishop of Ely built a palace here in the fifteenth century and some of its ornate red bricks still rise over a Tudor-style knot garden. In 1538, Henry VIII bought the old palace for his kids and two decades later Elizabeth I was sitting under an oak tree nearby when she got the news that she was queen. Wandering around Hatfield House, phrases like “steeped in history” really do feel justified.

    • You can still visit the restaurant and stable yard; the house and gardens will reopen from Easter, Thursday to Sunday, and cost £19.
    • How to get to Hatfield House car-free: Trains take just over twenty minutes from London’s Kings Cross station. Cross the road outside Hatfield station and you’re there!
    • For more things to do in the area, see our car-free guide to Hatfield.
  1. 10. Engelfield Estate, Berkshire

    Forty minutes from London by train, but feeling really rural, this slice of Berkshire countryside round an Elizabethan mansion is used as the location for Sandringham, country retreat of the royal family. Around the Engelfield Estate the acres of woodlands and gardens appear in several different episodes of The Crown. Other things filmed here include the X-Men, The King’s Speech, and PoirotIt’s a bit of a schlepp from the station, but with some lovely rural features on the way.

    • The house is not open to the public, but the gardens are – every Monday all year round (from 10am to 4pm in winter, £5 for adults, free for kids).
    • How to get to Engelfield car-free: Get the train from Paddington to Theale station and walk. It’s about 1½ miles: turn left at the Crown and right soon afterwards along Engelfield Road. Turn right past the farm shop, fork left onto a footpath and left again through Englefield village,
    • This leaflet includes seasonal highlights (from snowdrops to autumn colour) and a rough map. There are spectacular Rhododendrons in Spring, followed by bluebells and Azaleas.
    • There’s no loo or cafe on the estate, but you can find both in the village, where the tearoom is open every day except Thursday and Sunday.

Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount

Visit car-free in 2019!