Have you ever been wronged by Saoirse Ronan or a character of hers? I have. I auditioned for her part in the movie Hanna (2011) and could not compete with an Academy Award-nominated actress. Plus, my audition was awful. The characters in this movie also experience unforgivable betrayal, but luckily the sheer volume of Atonement filming locations (and their beauty!) somewhat make up for the heartache.
Atonement (2007) is adapted from the best-selling Ian McEwan novel. Set primarily in the 1930s and 1940s, it follows the relationship between Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley) and Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) and how Cecilia’s little sister Briony (Saoirse Ronan) comes between them. Considering the era, WWII also plays a prominent role and is the catalyst for many of the film’s events. Atonement received tons of accolades including seven Oscar nominations (yes, even 13-year-old Ronan got a supporting actress nomination!).
Aside from the scenes shot at Shepperton Studios, there are loads of Atonement film locations all around England. You may have even travelled to one without realising it! It’s a two-hour film with approximately 593 filming locations so let’s get cracking.
Where Was Atonement Filmed?
Atonement Filming Locations in England
1. Stokesay Court, Onibury, Shropshire
The movie opens in the grand home of the Tallis family, so we get our first Atonement filming location too. They shot the home scenes in Stokesay Court in Shropshire. Some of the interiors might be studio sets, but a lot of the interior scenes do match the real-life interior of Stokesay. And the fountain scene shot somewhere on the grounds, for sure.
This is where almost all of the first half of the film takes place and we see brother Leon Tallis arrive for a few days with chocolate magnate Paul Marshall (Benedict Cumberbatch). I’m not sure where in England the home is set in the world of the film. But you know, just somewhere posh down in the south of England. I’m a northerner and it’s all the same, right?
2. Town Hall Hotel, 8 Patriot Square, London
Atonement jumps forward in time four years and the war is raging. Cecilia is a nurse and Robbie is out of prison on the condition that he join the army. They meet at a tea room in London called The Swallow Tea Room which is actually the dining room of the Town Hall Hotel in London just outside of Bethnal Green. The wood panelling on the walls is unmistakable and this is the first of many Atonement filming locations in the capital.
3. Great Scotland Yard, St James’s, London
The pair walk along Scotland Place and turn left onto Great Scotland Yard in London where Cecilia waits to catch her bus. Though they’ve just made up, Robbie is off to fight in the Battle of France. Cecilia gives Robbie a postcard featuring her pal’s cottage near Seven Sisters cliffs in East Sussex where they next hope to meet, but we’ll get to that later. This road also appears in one or two of the later Harry Potter films. Which ones? Ah, you’ll have to read my blog post to find out!
4. Ouse Washes and Nene Washes Nature Reserves, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
Back in France, Robbie and a couple of his fellow privates are separated from the rest of their squadron. They walk away from a rundown shack in the middle of rural France and start walking back to Dunkirk. But this Atonement film location is not in France at all. Nope, these twilight scenes shot in the Ouse Washes and Nene Washes nature reserves just outside Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.
I’m not sure exactly where in the nature reserves, but the lads do walk next to a river at some point. Though both nature reserves have rivers, so they could be anywhere.
5. 125 Lydhurst Avenue, London
Cecilia posts a letter to Robbie while she narrates its contents. We discover Briony chose not to attend Cambridge University but trained to be a nurse instead. Cecilia crosses Lydhurst Avenue in London from Hillside Passage to the fake red post box on the corner of Mount Nod Road.
Later, Briony goes to visit Cecilia at her flat in ‘Balham’ but it is actually a second-story flat near 102 Lydhurst Avenue at the top of some fire escape-looking stairs.
6. Walpole St Andrew, Norfolk
Unfortunately, I cannot be more specific, but the next filming location is an orchard just outside of a small village called Walpole St Andrew in Norfolk. This is where Robbie and his pals walk through an apple orchard in middle-of-nowhere France and stumble upon one of the most disturbing scenes: a gaggle of school girls executed and left to rot in front of them.
7. Cuckmere Haven, Seven Sisters, East Sussex
When Robbie narrates his letter back to Cecilia, she is sitting on one of the wooden sea defences on Cuckmere Haven Beach in Eastbourne, East Sussex. You can see the Seven Sisters cliffs in the background.
8. Teesport Docks, Middlesborough, North Yorkshire
The privates continue to walk through rural France, and they finally reach a built-up industrial area which is Dunkirk. In reality, it is Teesport Docks in North Yorkshire. But since it is supposed to be the late 1930s, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a little CGI trickery going on.
9. South Gare and Coatham Dunes, Redcar, North Yorkshire
Robbie and his friends run to the beach thinking all of their problems are solved, only to spot thousands of soldiers lining up on the sands of Dunkirk for evacuation. They run over South Gare and Coatham Dunes in Redcar, North Yorkshire and peer down onto Redcar beach below.
10. Newcomen Terrace, Redcar, North Yorkshire
Robbie and his two pals walk along a seafront street in Dunkirk. I really should learn Robbie’s friends names but they seem so inconsequential, and you are here for the Atonement filming locations anyway. They walk past the bandstand where the other soldiers are singing and go off to find somewhere to drink. They are actually walking along Newcomen Terrace in Redcar, North Yorkshire with a heck of a lot of set dressing and CGI. And the bandstand is real! It’s Redcar Bandstand.
11. The Regent Cinema, Newcomen Terrace, Redcar, North Yorkshire
The lads walk into a bar and cinema right on the promenade of Dunkirk, which is The Regent Cinema in Redcar, North Yorkshire. Inside, everyone is singing, dancing and extremely merry. It looks like it dates back to the 1930s and is a cute little white and red building. Unfortunately, it is now permanently closed and the council are demolishing it! Rude!
12. Fish Dock Road, Grimsby, Lincolnshire
When night rolls around, Robbie because increasingly less lucid as he and his mate clamber through a bombed-out street in Dunkirk attempting to find shelter for the night. This street is a heavily CGI’d and set-dressed Fish Dock Road in the Grimsby Docks, Lincolnshire.
13. Whittington Lodge Farm, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
While trying to sleep off his delusions due to his infected wound, Robbie thinks back over past events that transpired earlier in the film. Visions of him walking through a field of poppies flashes into his mind, too. They shot this scene at Whittington Lodge Farm just outside of Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.
14. Park Place, Henley-on-Thames, Berkshire
Bizarrely, there aren’t any Atonement locations for many of the scenes in St Thomas’s hospital because they shot the corridor and ward scenes in Shepperton Studios. But the nurses’ dorm and the storerooms are in Park Place in Berkshire. It is a huge, Grade II listed mansion but I’m not sure if it is open to the public.
15. UCL Cruciform Building, Gower Street, London
When Briony and her nursing buddy are scrubbing down metal ward beds, this is outside of St Thomas’s Hospital in London. University College London’s Cruciform Building stands in as this Atonement setting. I think part of the Main Campus building exterior across the road might also stand in as the hospital when all the casualties flood in, but I’m not 100% sure.
16. St John’s Smith Square, London
The next Atonement location is St John’s Smith Square, where Lola is marrying Paul Marshall. Briony walks down Lord North Street towards this building which is a former church-turned-concert venue.
17. Aldwych Tube Station, London
After the big twist ending, we see Cecilia waking up in Balham Tube Station in London surrounded by other people. They filmed this scene in Aldwych Tube Station. If you know anything about this underground station, you will know that it closed its doors in 1994 and since then is a popular shooting location for films set in the underground.
18. 1-2 Coastguard Cottages, Seven Sisters, East Sussex
And of course, the “happy ending” of Atonement sees Robbie and Cecilia together, at last, at their dream cottage with the Seven Sisters cliffs in the background. These cottages do exist in real life, and they are 1-2 Coastguard Cottages in East Sussex.
And those are all the top Atonement filming locations in England! Have you watched the movie or visited any of the film locations? Let me know in the comments below!
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