Where Is The Brayford Castle In Damsel?

By Olivia Emily

3 months ago

A damsel in distress? Not likely

Britain’s ancient castles and stately homes often play host to medieval and fantasy dramas, from Stardust (2007) to The Green Knight (2021). Next up is the flamboyantly medieval Damsel, streaming now on Netflix and starring young British star Millie Bobby Brown as Princess Elodie. Flouting the ‘damsel in distress’ trope, when Elodie is sacrificed to a dragon, she battles to survive. The action begins in Elodie’s family home: a stunning, classically medieval castle. So which castle caught the attention of producers ahead of filming? And where was Aurea filmed? Here we delve into the real castles from Damsel – plus, how to visit.

Read the C&TH Guide to Responsible Tourism

Inside The Real Damsel Castles

Where Is The Real Brayford Castle?

While Damsel was mainly filmed in Portugal, Lord Brayford’s castle was filmed at Raby Castle in County Durham, England. This 14th century castle is complete with medieval towers, terraces and embattled walls, and stands in for the extravagant stronghold home of Elodie’s father (played by Ray Winstone) and stepmother (Angela Bassett).

Damsel was filmed at Raby Castle

GlenBowman, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Grade I listed building, the real castle dates back to 1367 and remains the ancestral home of the Vane family, the Barons Barnard. That said, the castle is open to the public, with a forest, deer park, cafe, shop and gardens to enjoy alongside the ancient splendour of the castle itself. Discover more at raby.co.uk

Find It: Raby Castle, Staindrop, Darlington DL2 3AH

Where Was Aurea Filmed In Damsel?

Aurea was filmed in Portugal, a sun soaked alternative to the more dreary County Durham – and a palatial style we rarely see on screen. As production designer Patrick Tatopoulos, cinematographer Larry Fong, and VFX Supervisor Nigel Denton-Howes explain, the castle and grounds of Aurea were modelled after Manueline architecture, a sumptuous post-gothic style unique to Portugal that isn’t often used in big-budget studio films. Drawing inspiration from Sintra, near Lisbon, filming took place in Tomar, Batalha, Douro, Vila Nova de Foz Côa, the mountains of Serra da Estrela, and Sortelha. In Batalha, the real castle Capillas Imperfectas and the UNESCO-listed Batalha Monastery were used.

‘[Portugal] is less dark than what we’re used to seeing,’ explains Tatopoulos. ‘It’s warmer and more flamboyant than the gloomy castles that are typically used for fantasy stories with dragons. And that was the trick: Aurea needed to be a very pleasant place to be on the outside.’

Angela Bassett as Lady Bayford in Damsel

Angela Bassett as Lady Bayford in Damsel. John Wilson/Netflix ©2024

Are The Caves Real?

The complex network of caves in Damsel is not real, but were built on sets and enhanced with visual effects. Tatopoulos says: ‘The sets – which were all practically built and later augmented with VFX – were constructed in a way that, if they were laid out next to each other end-to-end, it would feel as though you were actually going through a maze yourself. A feature that made the two-month-long shoot inside the caves as physically and mentally demanding for Millie Bobby Brown as it looks.’

And Bobby Brown did indeed find filming demanding. ‘It wasn’t fun going into [the caves],’ she says. ‘But I thought, “Elodie hates going into them. Elodie doesn’t want to be here.” It was hard running through them. It was hard falling in them. It was hard to scream, because nobody could hear you. You couldn’t see anything. Everything felt so real. So, I loved the caves as an actor, but hated them as Elodie.

Millie Bobby Brown as Elodie in a cave in Damsel

Millie Bobby Brown as Elodie in Damsel. John Wilson/Netflix ©2024

‘I’m also a little claustrophobic, so a few scenes were tough for me,’ Bobby Brown adds. ‘The tunnel scene where I fall forward into an upside-down position: it’s a really cool shot, but I was so scared, so we rearranged a few things and I had my assistant and my brother behind me holding onto my legs, and they’d yank me out when the anxiety got to be too much. But we did it in two takes and used all of that anxiety for it.’

Plus, when you see Elodie fall, you’re seeing Bobby Brown fall for real. ‘I did all of my own stunts from start to finish,’ she explains. ‘The hardest part was the climbing, even though I thought it would be the easiest, because I rock climbed when I was younger. But this was not rock climbing. I was in the cave, I was on a wire, and those were not rocks – they were crystals that were slippery. I’m wearing the fabric from my dress on my feet, so you’re not getting a good grasp on the materials. That was probably the hardest thing that I had to train for. Other than that, I wanted to make mistakes. I wanted to slip. I wanted to fall. I didn’t want to train too much because I didn’t want it to seem like I knew those caves too well. I wanted it to be like, “Action! Follow me and let’s hope I survive.”’

Millie Bobby Brown as Elodie and Nick Robinson as Prince Henry in Damsel

(L-R) Millie Bobby Brown as Elodie and Nick Robinson as Prince Henry in Damsel. John Wilson/Netflix ©2024

Where Was Damsel Filmed?

Damsel was filmed in England and Portugal, specifically Batalha, Tomar, Serra da Estrela, the Douro Valley and Sortelha.

What Is Damsel About?

A dutiful damsel (Bobby Brown) agrees to marry a handsome prince (Nick Robinson), only to find the royal family has recruited her as a sacrifice to repay an ancient debt. Thrown into a cave with a fire-breathing dragon, she must rely on her wits and will to survive.


Damsel is streaming worldwide exclusively on Netflix. netflix.com