Acting heavyweight Tom Hardy has jumped into the murky depths of the 19th century — and the murky depths of Tilbury docks — with Taboo, the dark period drama telling the story of James Keziah Delaney and his quest of vengeance following the death of his father.
Hardy's leading character, Delaney, was the catalyst that initially ignited the creative spark of the project, a role carefully constructed in partnership with his father, Chips Hardy.
However, as well as a thrilling, nuanced protagonist, part of the allure with #Taboo lies with its setting — the misty, cobbled lamp-lit streets and grand architecture of London in 1814, Delaney's home, the place he returns following years spend exiled in Africa. The aesthetics are striking, and the world is immersive, yet all the true stories behind the Taboo filming locations are just as riveting in their own right.
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Location: Bexley, London.
The Georgian mansion is situated in Danson Park, and is the location for numerous key scenes in Taboo, as the home of Delaney's half-sister, Zilpha Geary (Oona Chaplin). The cellar of Danson house was also used to create scenes for St Bartholomew Hospital in Episode 2, while its grounds were used to film scenes of horses and carriages arriving with guests.
In Taboo, the main antagonists of Delaney's endeavours are the true-to-life organization, the East India Company. Danson House was purpose built for the organization's vice-chairman, Sir John Boyd, illustrating how the story is infused with truths.
Danson House is a Grade I listed building (a special way of protecting historical buildings in the United Kingdom), which did cause challenges during filming, not least because 120 cast and crew were on set. Karen Everett, director of the company that deals with requests to film for Bexley Council, FilmFixer, said:
"There’s a great deal of preparation required for filming in historic homes. Being Grade 1 listed, protecting Danson House was a major priority for us, before filming could go ahead.
"Special terms and conditions ensured the drama could be recreated in this ideal period location – while at the same time, the mansion itself would be safe and treated respectfully."
Francis Drake's Golden Hinde
Location: Thames, Southwark.
The original ship, commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I and captained by Sir Francis Drake, was in circulation between 1577 and 1580. It was used in the Anglo-Spanish War, before being broken up in the late 1600s.
Since then, three replicas have been produced; the first was made in 1947, before being demolished in 2013. The second was built in Devon in 1963, but eventually sunk in 1987. The third and final was made in 1973, and has been berthed in Southwark, London, since 1996 — this replica is the destination for most of the scenes where Tom Hardy is aboard a ship.
For those who want to visit the ship, visit the Golden Hinde's website.
Location: River Thames, Tilbury, Essex.
Tilbury Fort is arguably one of the most integral Taboo filming locations, with production setting up base for three months and transforming the exterior of the artillery fort into 1814 Wapping — as well as shooting key scenes inside the gunpowder magazines.
The fort was constructed by King Henry VIII toward the end of his reign in the 1500s, providing vital protection to London against attacks from France. It was enlarged significantly in 1670, and protected the UK from seaward approaches up until the Second World War.
It was also at Tilbury that #TomHardy post for the viral naked, loincloth, tribal-tattoo-heavy photographs — a climate much colder than the African wilderness. Talking of those scenes, shot in February, Hardy told the #BBC:
"You're lucky there was a loin cloth because I didn't want one. It's not a period drama until someone gets naked and covers themselves in blood. At least you're showing willing.
"I was in Tilbury, in the moat, in the docks, with nothing on. We were trying to eke out drama from any opportunity and none of that makes the cut."
To visit Tilbury Fort, visit the English Heritage website.
Location: Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England.
The large country house, built in 1611 by Robert Cecil, is a popular filming location, posing as Wayne Manor in Batman (1989), the home of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider: Underworld and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Stephen Fry's home in V for Vendetta (2005) and scenes in Sherlock Holmes (2009).
For Taboo, Hatfield House is used as the headquarters for the East India Company, with shots taken both inside and outside the grounds.
If you want to visit Hatfield House, you can plan your visit by visiting the official website.
Have you noticed any other real-life locations in Taboo?