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24 September 2014

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The Locations

Ada and Richard

Vital to Bleak House were the set and locations that helped the production team to turn the clock back to create Victorian England.

Producer Nigel Stafford Clark explains: "We took a decision that we would try and find one large, empty historic house with a variety of different sized rooms, and we'd use that house to be the interiors of a lot of different places.

"That would save us having to move location every few days and meant we could stay mainly in one place, which could become like a studio and therefore we could shoot more quickly.

"Our location manager found the perfect place - Balls Park, just outside Hertford, which is a Grade I listed building and it fitted the bill and had everything we needed.

"It even had a room we were able to use as Chancery, which is at the heart of Bleak House and around which all the various stories revolve.

"The Balls Park mansion has this wood-panelled room which goes up three floors and up to the roof - no one could tell us what it had been used for - but it was just what we needed."

A school, Cobham Hall in Kent (which is close to Gad's Hill Place where Charles Dickens lived for many years), became the exterior of the Dedlocks' home, Chesney Wold.

"When he was living in Kent, Dickens used to walk to a pub in Cobham through the very grounds of Cobham Hall where we filmed," says Nigel Stafford Clark.

Some interiors at Cobham, such as the hall, were also used and the exterior of Balls Park was used for the exterior of Boythorn's House.

Sixteenth century manor house Ingatestone Hall in Essex - which is open to the public - became the exterior of Bleak House.

The bustling 19th century streets of London containing, amongst others, Snagsby's and Krook's shops, were created at the stable block at Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire.

Production designer Simon Elliott and his team built new frontages onto existing buildings and the existing cobbles could be used without alternation.

"We were even able to build false interiors so that we could follow our characters down the street and then take the cameras into the shops, like Krook's lair, with them," says Nigel Stafford Clark.

"Using the stable block meant we could use a set that was twice the size of anything else we could have afforded to build from scratch."

More on Bleak House

Behind the Scenes

Ada and Richard

Get the inside story on the show’s production.

Nigel Stafford-Clark

Nigel Stafford-Clark

Discover more about Bleak House’s producer.

Charles Dickens Animation

Charles Dickens Animation

Watch the story of Charles Dickens.

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