The English Village in Emma: An empirical study of heritage dramas, location filming and host communities

Lavinia Byrdon, Lisa Stead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Downloads (Pure)


This article considers location filming for heritage dramas in rural England, focusing on the experiences of the communities that “host” television crews during production. The article specifically examines the filming of the 2009 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, for which the historic Kent village, Chilham, doubled as the fictional Highbury. In doing so, it interrogates two central aspects. First, it illuminates some of the practical issues and economic and cultural impact of location filming for heritage dramas within rural areas. Second, it reflects upon how a community experiences and responds to its status as the host of such a series, considering the impact this has upon questions of identity and heritage. The article draws upon original empirical research, oral history interviews and community archive building conducted within the Chilham community and with Kent Film Office. It explores the memories and experiences of the local population involved in the television location filming process, as both spectators and participants. We thus consider the significance of location from the point of view of those who solicit, resist, profit from, and are caused problems by the temporary transformation of their local space into a television drama shooting space, forging new connections between production practices, location shooting and heritage series and national television/cinema.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-114
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • English village
  • heritage series
  • location filming
  • host community
  • rural space
  • film tourism

Cite this