How Did ‘Shardlake’ Recreate 16th Century England? By Filming Elsewhere

By Louie Fecou
Published: May 1, 2024
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Shardlake Filming Locations and Production Explained
Shardlake | Image via Disney+

Location is important to Shardlake, a murder mystery set in the 16th century during the dissolution of the monasteries. Based on a much-loved series of books by C. J. Sansom, the show has to evoke the aesthetic and atmosphere of Tudor England, though of course it wasn’t actually filmed in England. When you need castles, where do you go?

That’s right, Europe.

Filming Locations Breakdown

To help create the authentic look of sixteenth-century England, the showrunners found some excellent locations in and around Europe that had the right architecture and general aesthetic.

Vienna was one of the main regions used, and the unmistakable Kreuzenstein Castle is used in the series.

Kreuzenstein Castle, used for filming Shardlake

Kreuzenstein Castle | Image via Reddit

The crew would also venture to Transylvania so they could utilize another castle, this time Hunedoara Castle. If your show needs castles, Europ can provide them, and some of the stunning set pieces for the show are enhanced by these authentic locations.

Further locations in Hungary were also used in filming Shardlake.

Production Timeline

Shardlake has a history dating way back to the turn of the century. I’ve put together a quick timeline to give you the gist.

  • The series is based on a hugely popular and well-researched series of books written by C. J. Sansom. The first of seven novels would arrive on bookshelves way back in 2003, and the books would consistently drop through to 2018.
  • The rights to the first novel would be picked up by producer Steve Lee in 2003, but the project would stall.
  • Some interest was shown in the project by the BBC in 2007, with Kenneth Branagh attached to the project. However, this too would stall, and Branagh would move on to helm Wallander, leaving the show once again in production limbo.
  • Subsequently, rival UK independent TV company ITV would look at the property, but once again, the show would be shelved.
  • Behind the scenes though, interest in the series continued, and finally, Disney+ would greenlight the show in January of 2023.
  • Principle photography on Shardlake began in March 2023.
  • By February of 2024, the official cast list was released.
  • The four-episode first season of Shardlake debuted on May 1st, 2024.

Who produced and directed Shardlake?

Shardlake was directed by Justin Chadwick, an actor and director who would cut his teeth in various staples of UK television such as long-running London-based soap opera Eastenders, pantomime UK runaround The Bill, and fondly remembered kidult TV show Byker Grove, which would launch the careers of annoying Saturday night TV front men Ant and Dec.

Later he would move on to direct episodes of the excellent ground-level spy show Spooks for the BBC, as well as handling nine episodes of the BBC’s Dickens adaptation, Bleak House.

Producer John Griffin would be assisted by executive producers on the show Lee Mason, George Ormond, Mark Pybus, and Stevie Lee. Production company The Forge is a UK-based drama production that works in collaboration with the UK’s leading and emerging creative talent. The Forge became part of Banijay in November 2023.

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