Over Christmas, audiences around the world went wild for Bridgerton, Shondaland’s giddy new period drama based on Julia Quinn’s book series of the same name. The Regency romp follows the exploits of the aristocracy during the London social season, which are exposed by an anonymous and seemingly omniscient scandal sheet writer voiced by Julie Andrews.
The show’s flagrant disregard for historical accuracy is all part of the fun — the camp one-liners, the refreshingly diverse cast, the string quartet Taylor Swift cover that accompanies one very protracted sex scene montage. But there’s one aspect of Bridgerton that really tests our suspension of disbelief — its depiction of early 19th century London.
That’s because much of Bridgerton was actually filmed in Bath, and while you’ll never convince us that its sandstone streets are suitable stand-ins for central London, you’ve got to admire the brazenness of attempting to pass off one of its most iconic landmarks — the Royal Crescent — as Mayfair.
Still, the series is far from devoid of real London locations, even if these are at times masquerading as other bits of the city. Here are some familiar spots we noticed.
Minor spoilers ahead.
Where’s it meant to be? Grosvenor Square, 1813. The home of the well-to-do Bridgerton family, this wisteria-strewn frontage makes multiple appearances throughout the series.
Obviously, this beautiful Palladian-style mansion looks nothing at all like the imposing terraced houses that occupy the Mayfair neighbourhood — and that’s because it’s actually located south of the river, in Greenwich. Ranger’s House is home to The Wernher Collection and in ordinary times it’s open to the public — we went to visit in 2018.
Where’s it meant to be? The royal residence of Bridgerton’s fictional monarch, Queen Charlotte. We first see the palace in Episode One, when the debutantes arrive to be presented at court.
Though in the show it’s referred to as St James’s Palace, the courtyard we see is in fact part of Hampton Court. This switch-up isn’t particularly egregious when you consider the similarities of the two buildings — both built during the reign of Henry VIII, both boasting an imposing red brick gatehouse — so we’ll give this one a pass.
Where’s it meant to be? The showrunners used multiple locations including Wiltshire’s Wilton House for scenes set inside St James’s Palace. However, the opulent parlour where Viscountess Bridgerton takes tea with Queen Charlotte is part of Lancaster House, which is indeed within spitting distance of the real royal residence.
Where’s it meant to be? The unnamed gentlemen’s club patronised by the Duke of Hastings and the Bridgerton brothers actually exists — the scenes were shot inside The Reform Club on Pall Mall. The Reform was founded in 1836 as a hub where the Whigs could discuss radical ideas, so it’s perhaps fitting that this is where Duke and Viscount Bridgerton ponder eschewing the responsibilities that come with their titles (though that could be the port talking).
Where’s it meant to be? Hastings House, the London residence of the Duke of Hastings, which we many see in brooding blue-tinted flashbacks like the one above. While Salisbury’s Wilton House was used for the exterior, Syon House in Brentford — the West London stately home where a king once exploded — served for the interiors, alongside Badminton House in Gloucestershire.
Where’s it meant to be? Oh dear. This one is a bit more problematic for the London-loving pedant. In Episode Three, the showrunners try to pass off Inigo Jones’ masterpiece as Somerset House. Here — amid these verdant and most definitely not cobbled grounds — the Bridgertons, Featheringtons, and other noble families compete for the attention Prince Friedrich of Prussia. Never mind that the two buildings were built more than a century apart; the Queen’s House’s iconic River Thames vista gives the game away immediately.
Where’s it meant to be? The grounds of an unnamed grand London house where one of Episode Two’s many balls take place. Here we see the Duke of Hastings give a good beating to the predatory Lord Berbrooke after he insults both Daphne Bridgerton and the Duke’s late mother.
Where’s it meant to be? An opera house where Siena Rosso, who we learn is Viscount Bridgerton’s secret lover, performs. Not many East End locations feature in Bridgerton (in fairness, it’s pretty unlikely that Regency high society would’ve deigned to venture there), but the lavish Hackney Empire makes several cameos. While the building is actually Edwardian, thanks to the Baroque flourishes of its opulent auditorium, the inclusion doesn’t feel that anachronistic.
Where’s it meant to be? The unnamed church where two major characters get married in a modest, hastily-arranged ceremony in Episode Five (we’re avoiding the major spoilers, here). St Mary’s in Twickenham is Grade II listed and houses the body of Alexander Pope so in terms of grandeur, at least it beats the registry office. Betrothed Bridgerton superfans will be happy to know that you can get married here in real life, if you live within the parish or have regularly attended church services here.