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The chocolate box village loved by film and TV crews over the decades

With historic Tudor buildings and the backdrop of an impressive castle, you might struggle to find a more quintessentially English village square than Chilham.

Its chocolate box aesthetic has therefore proved a hit with producers over the decades, with the village between Canterbury and Ashford welcoming various film and TV crews.

WARNING WEB SITE SIZE IMAGE SMALL FILEPLEASE CREDIT Picture: Kent Film OfficeKMG GROUP USE ONLYConditions of Use: Slug: FILMING MM 080216Caption: Filming in the county, which has boosted Kent’s economy by £30m in five years. Behind the Scenes in Chilham with BBC Adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma in 2009 © Kent Film OfficeLocation: MedwayCategory: Entertainment & CultureByline: Kent Film OfficeContact Name: Kent Film OfficeContact Email: Contact Phone: 03000 422 000Uploaded By: Lowri STAFFORDCopyright: Kent Film OfficeOriginal Caption : FM4210315 (59760224)
Chilham Square Top Gear Filming,Presenter Jeremy Clarkson doing an E Type special Picture: Paul Amos (59760178)
Chilham Square Top Gear Filming,Presenter Jeremy Clarkson doing an E Type special Picture: Paul Amos (59760178)

Jeremy Clarkson visited in 2011 to shoot a package for Top Gear centered on the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type.

About 20 of the classic cars filled the village for two days of filming, while surrounding roads in the North Downs also featured.

Scores of fans flocked to Chilham to catch a glimpse of the spectacle and meet with Clarkson.

Pre-farmer Clarkson took a break from filming to sign autographs
Pre-farmer Clarkson took a break from filming to sign autographs
A multi-million pound collection of E-Types on display.  Those who were there can maybe remember Clarkson crunching the gears as he drove away
A multi-million pound collection of E-Types on display. Those who were there can maybe remember Clarkson crunching the gears as he drove away

The motormouth said: “We needed a very picturesque village and this really fitted the bill and, I would say, most people have been very helpful.”

Two years prior to Top Gear, Chilham welcomed British TV crews for the filming of BBC drama Emma.

The adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel – starring Tamsin Greig, Michael Gambon and Romola Garai – saw the village undergo significant changes.

Chilham Square is transformed for the BBC production of Emma.  Picture:Chris Davey (59760320)
Chilham Square is transformed for the BBC production of Emma. Picture:Chris Davey (59760320)

Alongside Squerryes Court in Westerham, Chilham was a key player in the shoot, with a vibrant market being installed on the square. Gravel was put down and all modern installations were taken out and the location transformed into a true Austen setting.

The square was also turned into a market four decades prior, when Hollywood star Kim Novak filmed The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders in 1965.

Kim Novak was in Chilham to film The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders in the 1960s
Kim Novak was in Chilham to film The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders in the 1960s

The Terrence Young movie, set in the 18th century, follows a young house maid who has numerous love affairs in the hope of reaching the top of society.

Novak went on to name her dog Chilham, in memory of her time in the village.

Take away the parked cars, add in some grass and a memorial, and the village square becomes even more picturesque.  Here it is pictured for the Miss Marple shoot in 2005
Take away the parked cars, add in some grass and a memorial, and the village square becomes even more picturesque. Here it is pictured for the Miss Marple shoot in 2005

For the filming of Miss Marple in 2005, grass, benches and a memorial were all installed as Chilham was transformed into the fictitious hamlet of Lymstock.

James D’Arcy, Emilia F’ox, Harry Enfield, Sean Pertwee and Kelly Brook were among the cast members for the episodes titled The Moving Finger.

The Jacobean castle’s grand appearance was utilized throughout and St Mary’s Church doubled as the hamlet’s place of worship.

Actress Emilia Fox in discussion with a crew member during filming of Miss Marple
Actress Emilia Fox in discussion with a crew member during filming of Miss Marple
Kelly Brook takes time out from the busy shoot.  Picture: Trevor Vallis
Kelly Brook takes time out from the busy shoot. Picture: Trevor Vallis
Filming of Miss Marples in Chilum Square -The suare has been covered with turf to resemble a village green (59760183)
Filming of Miss Marples in Chilum Square -The suare has been covered with turf to resemble a village green (59760183)

Chilham’s allure for Agatha Christie adaptations began in the 90s when David Suchet visited for the filming of Hercule Poirot’s Christmas – an episode where the famous sleuth investigates a winter murder of a millionaire.

The 1995 shoot saw the village transform into a winter wonderland, with the timber-framed buildings and square being covered in a layer of white.

Filming scenes in Chilham Square for the BBC production of Emma.  Picture:Chris Davey (59760328)
Filming scenes in Chilham Square for the BBC production of Emma. Picture:Chris Davey (59760328)
Filming a scene as Chilham Square is transformed for the BBC production of Emma.  Picture:Chris Davey (59760268)
Filming a scene as Chilham Square is transformed for the BBC production of Emma. Picture:Chris Davey (59760268)

In stark contrast to the Belgian detective, Inbetweeners stars Simon Bird and Joe Thomas used Chilham for their little-known comedy Chickens.

The pair, who shot to stardom playing Will and Simon in the classic E4 series, were spotted having lunch at the Woolpack Inn during a scouting trip to check out the village in 2011.

Barmaid Rose Calloway said at the time: “They came in for a meal with us at lunchtime on Friday. I couldn’t believe it was them.

PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY SLUG: CHICKENS KE CAPTION: Inbetweeners stars Joe Thomas, Simon Bird and comedian Jonny Sweet will star in TV comedy Chickens which was filmed in Chilham CATEGORY: Television COPYRIGHT: Rich Cain at Ian Johnson publicity - 02078363030 KM GROUP USE ONLY SUPPLIED BY Rich Cain at Ian Johnson publicity - 02078363030 (59821658)
PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY SLUG: CHICKENS KE CAPTION: Inbetweeners stars Joe Thomas, Simon Bird and comedian Jonny Sweet will star in TV comedy Chickens which was filmed in Chilham CATEGORY: Television COPYRIGHT: Rich Cain at Ian Johnson publicity – 02078363030 KM GROUP USE ONLY SUPPLIED BY Rich Cain at Ian Johnson publicity – 02078363030 (59821658)

“Apparently they were looking at the possibility of filming in Chilham. They had been round a couple of villages.

“They seemed really nice in person. They were deep in conversation during the meal but afterwards I couldn’t help myself and asked if I could have my photo taken with them.”

The Channel 4 comedy, which aired in September 2011, followed three young men shunned by their local community for refusing to fight in the First World War.

Chilham is also seen in a number of Mapp & Lucia episodes and in Michael Caine’s 1969 film Battle of Britain.

It also features heavily in the final three episodes of the hit American sitcom Married… with Children.

Guest starring bird lover Bill Oddie as a local historian, the three-part finale of season 6 sees the Bundy family head over to Chilham, doubling as the fictional village of Lower Uncton.

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