We live in ‘time warp’ village where Netflix horror The Strays and Harry Potter were filmed – we hate how tourists act

A SLEEPY village where new Netflix horror The Strays was filmed has been a movie set so many times that locals take little notice.

While film fans and newcomers marvel at “otherworldly” Lavenham in Suffolk, blasé residents cannot see what all the fuss is about.

JOHN McLELLANThe village of Lavenham, Suffolk – a prime film set location[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANMarian Zimmerman, visiting from LA, taking a snap[/caption]

CHRIS HARRIS/NETFLIXAshley Madekwe as Neve in Netflix horror The Strays[/caption]

Warner BrosThe area was used as Godric’s Hollow in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1[/caption]

The beauty spot is one of England’s best-preserved medieval villages with more than 300 listed buildings.

It has provided a backdrop for Harry Potter, period horror Witchfinder General, BBC drama Lovejoy and even John Lennon and Yoko Ono‘s Apotheosis.

Most recently, the picturesque village stood in for a classic English backwater in psychological thriller movie The Strays, which stars Ashley Madekwe as a woman whose life starts to unravel when two strangers appear in her town.

Film agency Screen Suffolk said it booked Lavenham and nearby Kersey for the creepy story because of the places’ “otherworldly look”.

But pensioner Chris Leeder, who lives in nearby Monks Eleigh, said he barely bats an eyelid at the ethereal appearance.

The 71-year-old said: “We don’t take any notice of it anymore because we live here.

“But it brings a lot of people to the village and they love it – especially the Americans as they have nothing like this in the States.”

Rosemarie Long, who has worked at knitwear shop Elizabeth Gash for more than 20 years agreed, adding: “Local people don’t seem bothered, but if it brings more people into the village to see what Lavenham has to offer, it’s only a good thing.”

Millie Cooper, 20, supervisor at the Angel Hotel, said the film crew for The Strays based themselves at the inn, which has hosted travellers since 1420.

Front-of-house colleague Lindsay Bray, 41, said the village’s De Vere House, used for Godric’s Hollow in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, was a mecca for JK Rowling fans from across the globe.

She said: “Because of Harry Potter we have a lot of tourists who come in and ask where it was filmed.

“They have come from as far as America, Japan and Australia.”

Unlike the visitors, local bricklayer Brett Welham is unfazed by the unique architecture.

The 46-year-old said: “I have lived here all my life so I don’t think about what it looks like.

“It must have much more of an impact if you come from somewhere else.

“Some of the buildings are 600 or 700 years old – the church was built in the 1200s.

“It’s not like London where everything was built last week.”

But it’s a different story for Marian Zimmerman, 55, from Los Angeles, who stood in awe as she photographed De Vere House.

The married mum was born in Bristol but has lived in America for the past 32 years.

I have lived here all my life so I don’t think about what it looks like.

Brett WelhamLocal

She said: “I first came here in ’83 or ’85 – it’s so lovely here in Lavenham, such a historical town.

“It’s very otherworldly – just look at all the buildings – it’s very Harry Potter, or like Lord of the Rings.”

Thanks to its Hollywood appeal, Lavenham, which has a population of about 1,700, has welcomed scores of big names.

Most notable for retiree Ken Andrews was a late-1960s horror movie icon, whom he enjoyed a beer with at the local boozer.

“Most people would still remember the Witchfinder General, starring Vincent Price,” the former local government officer, 79, said.

“He used to enjoy a drink in The Angel – he was quite approachable.

“They did a big scene here in the Market Place where they burned witches.

“If fans recognise the location it will inevitably bring in tourists.”

Ken also recalled how John and Yoko used the same square for scenes for their short film Apotheosis.

He said: “I remember John Lennon flying here by hot air balloon. I was standing by the Guild Hall.

“Of course he didn’t actually land here, he came rolling up in a white Rolls-Royce.

“Visitors still come here because of the popularity of The Beatles – they were the biggest thing on the planet at the time.”


Many day-trippers take selfies in front of homes and businesses, including Lavenham Blue Vintage Tea Rooms.

Owner Amanda Mortimer said her traditional café was used for filming The Strays and has become a popular photo pit-stop.

During production, a decorative vintage bicycle was placed in front of the tea toom and Amanda liked it so much she bought it.

“Later, a Chinese lady put her Louis Vuitton bag in the basket and had her photo taken,” she added.

Nearby Kersey is no different, with its amazing scenery and architecture not lost of newcomers.

Becky Waldron and Rachael Farthing only recently discovered The Bell Inn after it was taken over by new management.

Rachael, 43, said: “I find it really magical. You feel like you’re entering into another world; it captivates the imagination.

“This pub dates back to the 1300s – it’s hugely historical.”

Becky, 44, added: “It takes my breath away when I drive down.

“I love the little ford that runs across the road. The village doesn’t feel like it’s changed in hundreds of years – it’s a bit of a time warp.

“I think locals embrace [the filming] because they are proud of the village.

“We know that come the summer we are going to be inundated with tourists, but it helps keep the village alive.”

Neil Hutton admitted being a huge fan of BritBox series Magpie Murders, which used the pub as one of its filming locations.

The show, based on Anthony Horowitz‘s bestselling novel about a dead mystery author, is set between 1950s and the present day.

“Kersey is absolutely perfect if you want to go back in time,” the 65-year-old added.

The Strays was released on Netflix on February 22.

AlamyRupert Grint as Ron Weasley in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANProducers use Lavenham for its beautiful old buildings and unspoiled views[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANResident Chris Leeder said American tourists love the historic buildings[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANNetflix horror The Strays was filmed in Lavenham and Kersey[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANLavenham Blue Vintage Tea Rooms owner Amanda Mortimer[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANLavenham sits in the heart of the stunning Suffolk countryside[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANLindsay Bray and Millie Cooper working behind the bar at The Angel[/caption]

AlamyMagpie Murders being filmed in the area[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANThe nearby village of Kersey – also used in TV shows and movies[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANMarian Zimmerman outside De Vere House, which featured in the Harry Potter films[/caption]

Warner BrosGodric’s Hollow in the hit film based on JK Rowling books[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANBar workers Becky Waldron and Rachael Farthing at The Bell Inn in Kersey[/caption]

© 2023 Netflix, Inc.Justin Salinger, Samuel Paul Small, Tom Andrews, Lucy Liemann, Ashley Madekwe and Bukky Bakray in The Strays[/caption]

AlamyJohn Lennon with Yoko Ono in the village of Lavenham for their film Apotheosis[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANLavenham is widely considered to be Britain’s best preserved medieval village[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANKersey resident Neil Hutton has his hometown was ‘perfect’ for going back in time[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANKersey is a village and civil parish in the Babergh district in Suffolk[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANA couple walking their dog through the picturesque village[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANBricklayer Brett Welham is unfazed by the unique architecture[/caption]

AlamyHarry Lawtey as Robert Blakiston and Nia Deacon as Joy Sanderling in Magpie Murders[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANElizabeth Gash clothes shop manager Rosemarie Long[/caption]

JOHN McLELLANSome of the buildings are 600 or 700 years old[/caption]

Vincent Price in Witchfinder General in 1968Alamy