The Essex Serpent: Cudmore Grove as film location
Did you know that our very own Cudmore Grove Country Park was one of The Essex Serpent film locations?
Posted on 10th May 2022
In 2021 film crews were spotted in locations across the eastern shores and creeks of our county, with locals extremely excited by the rumours of global acting superstars, Tom Hiddleston and Claire Danes, shooting a production in Essex.
On Friday May 13, Apple TV launch their mini drama-series of ‘The Essex Serpent’, an adaptation of the bestselling and award-winning novel by Essex girl Sarah Perry, and our hauntingly beautiful Essex landscapes are set to be a hit on the small screen.
Filming at Cudmore Grove Country Park
Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston were filmed in a couple of iconic places within the park itself. The first was along the ‘cliff’ top (which you can find by heading towards the sea from the overflow car park). Here the starkly beautiful rows of trees are exposed to the elements – shaped into elegantly twisted patterns by the winter winds, and slowly falling on to the beach below as climate change and erosion work against them.
If you plan to visit, and perhaps take a photo or two of this location, you must remember to stay away from the cliff edge. A fence marks the boundaries of the footpath.
The second setting you’ll want to explore is on the beach, at the bottom of the cliffs. Follow the path along the top, through the trees, and descend on to the shore – heading to your right. Top tip: Make sure to check tide times before you travel and come at low tides for the full atmosphere.
Here the actors were filmed digging for fossils in the striking cliffs. (Although the production used a faux cliff face so no damage was caused to the site which is a triple SSI (special scientific interest)
Did you know that the cliffs at Cudmore Grove are well known for their ancient prehistoric geology, providing superb sightings of gravels laid down by the Thames-Medway River during a glacial period 300,000 years ago?
Perhaps not quite revealing the finds of a serpent, Cudmore Grove is however known as the ‘hippo site' due to the presence of ancient hippopotamus bones found here.
Sediments at beach level very occasionally yield fossils, including fossil wood and mammal bones. Deposits from a more recent interglacial period are also sometimes exposed on the foreshore, known as the Ipswichian interglacial (120,000 years old).
Read more here and make sure to follow the code of conduct if you are interested in looking for fossils and other interesting items. Stay away from the cliffs themselves to avoid further erosion and try not to disturb the wildlife who lives there. For example, in the late spring/ early summer you may spot the nesting sand martins, please avoid distributing them by getting too close.
Take a stroll back to the car through the beautiful meadow, look out for our very own Essex Serpents! At Cudmore you may come across the resident grass snakes (don’t let your dogs in the long grass) and adders. You might want to also drop by the new bird hide to see what you can spot before you head home.
Further Film Locations
A number of locations were used for filming the mini-series including the atmospheric Essex marshes at Alresford Creek near Brightlingsea, North Fambridge and Tollesbury.
The Hythe Quay at Maldon was transformed into an authentic backdrop, with the addition of barrow-loads of dirt spread across the concrete, and the iconic Thames sailing barges with their ox-blood red sails providing the perfect background.
Set in 1893, ‘The Essex Serpent’ focuses on London widow Cora Seaborne, played by Claire Danes, who moves to Essex with her young son following the death of her controlling husband. A keen naturalist, Cora is enticed by rumours of a so-called ‘Essex Serpent’ the cause of escalating panic in the local villages on the Blackwater Estuary – where the serpent is said to dwell.
Cora’s investigations, and obsession with the beast, bring her into contact with local clergyman William Ransome, played by Tom Hiddleston, with the sensitivity he showed in the smash-hit film adaptation of the John Le Carré novel, ‘The Night Manager’. Faith and science clash, as Cora and William find themselves, despite their differences, bound to each other in ways neither could have anticipated.
Residents and visitors can follow in the footsteps of Claire Danes (Cora) and Tom Hiddleston (William) by exploring the incredible Essex coast and experiencing the unexpected. This summer, why not get off the beaten track and explore our stunning unspoilt creeks, salt marshes, estuaries and beaches?
Plan your to visit to Cudmore Grove Country Park
Watch The Essex Serpent on Apple TV
Read The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
Explore the Essex Coast