Where is The Essex Serpent filmed - and is it a true story?

The Essex Serpent
(Image credit: Apple+TV)

Tom Hiddleston and Claire Danes have teamed up for a new historical movie series that centres on a widow's obsession with a mythical creature that has become one of the superstitions in an Essex village.  

If you're a fan of book-to-screen adaptations like Conversations with Friends or Netflix's Bridgerton there's another to add to your must-watch list.

The film, which is a film adaptation of Sarah Perry's 2016 novel of the same name, features newly widowed Cora Seaborne (Claire Danes) who has been released from an abusive marriage, so she relocates from Victorian London to a small village in Essex but she soon becomes intrigued by a local superstition that a mythical creature known as the Essex Serpent has returned to the area. Ahead of the show's release, we look at all you need to know...

Where is The Essex Serpent filmed?

The Essex Serpent is filmed in a number of Essex locations including Alresford, Brightlingsea, North Fambridge, and Maldon, as well as across London, including Gordon Square in Bloomsbury.

The Essex Serpent key locations include:

  • Maldon – You might recognise this market town as the main backdrop for the series. It features the iconic Moot Hall, Blue Boar Hotel and Promenade Park. Tom Hiddleston and Claire Danes were filmed strolling down the high street, and even had some picturesque scenes filmed down by the quay with Thames sailing barges in the background.
  • Blackwater Estuary - Essex's famous saltmarshes also provide a stunning backdrop for the series and their vast reach makes them perfect for taking to the skies with a drone or spotting some wildlife.
  • Tollesbury – Tom and Claire walked along the eerie boardwalk searching for the mythical Essex serpent believed to be living among the Tollesbury marshlands. The flat landscape leads to the spectacular bright red lightship, an iconic landmark of Tollesbury, that stands proud in the swirling saltmarshes.
  • Mersea Island – A dramatic part of the film sees Tom and Claire standing at the top of the cliffs at Cudmore Grove on Mersea Island. Fans can head to the country park in East Mersea and recreate some of the scenes.
  • Alresford Creek and Brightlingsea – these locations are make up the fictional village of Aldwinter. Visit the quiet inlet of Alresford Creek, where you can walk along the river path from historic Wivenhoe to scenic Brightlingsea. In Brightlingsea the harbour was a popular film location and fans can take a ferry from Brightlingsea across to Mersea Island or cruise down the River Colne to Wivenhoe at Brightlingsea, with Brightlingsea Harbour Tours.

Filming began back in February 2021 and the final episode wrapped on the week of June 27, 2021.

Is The Essex Serpent a true story?

The Essex Serpent is based on true events featured in the 2016 award-winning novel The Essex Serpent by author Sarah Perry (AMAZON | £8.55). It takes place in 1893, set in the fictional village of Aldwinter. When writing the book, Perry took inspiration from her childhood memories of Essex — especially the town of Maldon.

The Essex Serpent - a plot summary

Set in the Victorian era, in the year 1893, The Essex Serpent tells the tale of Cora Seaborne, a woman relishing her recent freedom from an abusive husband, who moves from London to a small village in Essex and becomes intrigued by the idea that it might be haunted by a mythological sea serpent. She forms an unlikely bond with the village vicar (Tom Hiddleston), but when tragedy strikes, locals accuse her of attracting the creature.

The Essex Serpent trailer

You can watch the Essex Serpent trailer in the clip below...


Where can I see the Essex Serpent?

You can watch The Essex Serpent on Apple+ TV and the first episode will be aired on 13th May 2022, with each following episode aired each week thereafter for six weeks.

How many episodes are there?

There are six episodes of the Apple+ TV film series which will be dropping on the streaming service on a weekly basis, according to IMDB. Once all the episodes have dropped, fans will be able to binge-watch them at their convenience.

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Selina Maycock
Senior Entertainment Writer

Selina is currently a Senior Entertainment Writer for Goodto.com, formerly Senior Entertainment writer for Woman&Home, and My Imperfect Life and has more than 16 years of experience in newspapers, magazines and online. She currently writes a mix of Entertainment news - including celebrity births, weddings and reality show line-ups including Strictly, Dancing On Ice and The Great British Bake Off, reporting the the latest news about the Royal kids Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet as well as Family news stories from baby names to store closures and product recall warnings. Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand. When she's not interviewing celebrities you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories.