Where Was Fool Me Once Filmed? Inside The Real Mansions

By Olivia Emily

6 months ago

The houses are the real star of this Netflix crime drama

Netflix’s latest twisty British crime drama has landed – and we’re loving it. Centring on Maya Stern (Michelle Keegan) and the Birkett family and based on Harlan Coben’s novel of the same name, Fool Me Once kicks off following the brutal murder of Maya’s husband Joe Birkett (Richard Armitage) in a robbery-gone-wrong. Or so we think… Amongst all this, the Birkett family is so incredibly rich that their huge houses are a bit of a scene stealer, from the stately family estate to Maya’s more modern home with three floors and a swimming pool. So where was Fool Me Once filmed? Here we step inside the real houses behind the series.

Where Was Fool Me Once Filmed? Inside The Real Mansions

Michelle Keegan and Joanna Lumley in Fool Me Once


Where Was Fool Me Once Filmed?

Fool Me Once was filmed in Manchester, Bolton, Oldham and other spots across Cheshire and the northwest of England. When the show flashes back to Maya’s army days, those scenes were filmed in Almeria in Southern Spain.

Where Is Fool Me Once Set?

Fool Me Once is set in Winhurst, a fictional area we can assume is located somewhere in Cheshire. This contrasts Harlan Coben’s novel, which originally set the action in New Jersey in the US. For Manchester native Keegan who plays Maya, this change was ‘[grounding]’, with Joanna Lumley agreeing that ‘it worked really well’ and ‘switched over very easily without any sense that you’re losing too much’.

In fact, we’ve gained something: Adeel Akhtar’s side plot as DS Sami Kierce was created by Coban and his team especially for the Netflix adaptation.

Jessica Taylor, one of the producers of Fool Me Once, told Manchester Evening News: ‘From the start, we create this world of Winhurst. It’s a generic town, but it’s quite an affluent area with high-end houses, but we soon discover the underground parts, too. In Harlan’s book it is set in New Jersey, but it adapts itself really well to be an English setting.

‘What we always try to do is use locations we’ve not really visited before, which can be difficult because Manchester is so prominent in filming now,’ says Jessica. ‘Because we wanted it to be generic, and Manchester is so distinctive, we didn’t pick anything too Manchester, although it’s hard to avoid the trams!

‘We want it to look epic, we want people to watch and be impressed by how it looks,’ Jessica adds. ‘It does look very rich and beautiful, and at the centre of it all is this beautiful person: Michelle as Maya. She just sells it all and the story rattles along at some pace.’

Fool Me Once: Filming Locations

Fool Me Once

© Netflix

Arley Hall and Gardens

AKA: Farmwood

The Birkett family estate is a colossal red brick country house occupied predominantly by matriarch Judith (Joanna Lumley). The real mansion is Arley Hall and Gardens, a stately home located to the southeast of the village of Arley, near Northwich in Cheshire. A real home, it is currently home to Viscount Ashbrook and his family – when Netflix doesn’t take over for filming, that is. Though the Grade II* house and its gardens date back to the 1830s, the land has been occupied as early as the 12th century.

It got author Harlan Coben’s immediate approval. Jessica told Manchester Evening News: ‘Harlan always says: “I want it to look really English”, and when we showed him Arley Hall, he said, “that’s what I’m talking about”.’

‘Joanna’s character is only ever seen in her house really so when we went to do the first recce we asked if she would like to stay there in the grounds and she said she’d love to,’ Jessica says. Because the estate is so varied – it is also home to a chapel, a clock tower, an organic working farm, and beautiful manicured gardens with a kitchen garden to boot – much of it appears in Fool Me Once without you realising it. ‘As well as the hall, one of the cottages was used, as both the family nanny and head groundsman live on the grounds of Farmwood,’ says Jessica. ‘We also used a lot of the woodland around Arley Hall.’ Plus, flashbacks of Maya and Joe’s wedding were filmed in the chapel, as well as Joe’s funeral.

If you recognise it, it might be because Arley Hall has hosted two weddings in long-running soap Coronation Street in the past, as well as appearing in Peaky Blinders and the finale of another Harlan Coben series, Stay Close.

Can You Visit? Yes, Arley Hall is open to visitors, with access to the gardens, a cafe, a children’s play area and the chapel. There is also a series of events to enjoy, plus cottages to stay in if you fancy making a weekend of it (you guessed it: this is where Joanna Lumley stayed during filming). arleyhallandgardens.com

Fool Me Once

© Netflix

Alderley Edge

AKA: Maya’s house

Maya’s house is stunning in a very different way: it’s modern and blocky, all straight lines and expansive rooms, and blending seamlessly into its surrounding woodland. Producer Jessica told Manchester Evening News: ‘Maya has this beautiful big house, and we filmed this in Alderley Edge in a very modern design house that spreads over three floors with its own swimming pool. We don’t see a lot of Alderley, but we do see a lot of the country lanes around there.’ The gun room, however, was added by production, as these are, naturally, pretty rare in the UK.

Can You Visit? Sadly not: Maya’s house is a private home in real life.

Marcus Garvey as Eddie Walker and Adeel Akhtar in Fool Me Once

(L to R) Marcus Garvey as Eddie Walker and Adeel Akhtar in Fool Me Once. © Vishal Sharma/Netflix


AKA: Claire’s house

As the first episodes of Fool Me Once progress, it becomes clear that, as well as the tragic death of her husband, Maya is grieving the similarly brutal murder of her sister, Claire (Natalie Anderson) – and that their deaths might be linked. In the present day, we see Maya visit Claire’s home, occupied by the family she has left behind: husband Eddie (Marcus Garvey) and their two teenage children. They live in a gorgeous, family-style home that is, again, pretty spacious. It’s bedecked in creams with bright pops of colour – but this isn’t characteristic of the original private property, which is located in Bramhall. ‘This was a family home and it was decorated beautifully in greys and creams, but that doesn’t work on screen so we had to redecorate and add different furniture,’ Jessica tells Manchester Evening News.

‘They didn’t personally like it though, so it was all returned exactly to the way it was when we finished filming,’ she reveals.

Can You Visit? Sadly this Bramhall home cannot be visited as it is a private property.

Richard Armitage as Joe, Michelle Keegan as Maya in Fool Me Once

(L to R) Richard Armitage as Joe, Michelle Keegan as Maya in Fool Me Once. © Vishal Sharma/Netflix

Alexandra Park

This Oldham park also appears in Fool Me Once – but it’s quite a sinister cameo. This is where Joe is shot in Maya’s flashbacks. From Oldham herself, producer Jessica selected the spot herself. ‘It’s a beautiful park and really underrated,’ she tells Manchester Evening News. ‘This is where we filmed the flashbacks for Richard’s murder scene – although it rained all night! In the book it’s supposed to be Winhurst Park, so we wanted to base it on somewhere a bit like Central Park in New York. It’s got all these beautiful Victorian follies and a bridge, we wanted to capture the prettiest aspects of it.’

Can You Visit? Yes – you can find Alexandra Park along King’s Road in Oldham, complete with a boathouse cafe and tennis courts (5 Kings Rd, Oldham OL8 2BH).

Castlefield Viaduct

No spoilers, but this disused railway viaduct in Castlefield appears in a chase scene. Interesting, though it has been unused since 1969, Castlefield Viaduct is regularly maintained, with the National Trust transforming it into a sky garden.

‘I was really excited to get up there,’ says producer Jessica. ‘We had actually gone to Castlefield to look for a disused warehouse for a scene, but as I looked up and saw the bridge I thought “that would make a brilliant location”. We went up and we filmed up on the top of the bridge. It’s really industrial, it’s got all that industrial ironwork. We’ve been the first to use it for filming and that’s really exciting.’

Can You Visit? Yes – but it’ll only reopen on 10 February following a refresh of the gardens for spring and summer (Catalan Square, Duke St, Manchester M3 4PU). nationaltrust.org.uk


All eight episodes of Fool Me Once are streaming now on Netflix.