The castle of the BBC series Merlin
Summary of the extensive article you will find in Issue 2 of JCW Magazine, coming April. In the magazine also an XL photo reportage.
A few years ago I saw the award-winning British BBC TV series “Merlin” about the myth of King Arthur and the wizard Merlin. A story that continues to fascinate me. For five seasons (2008-2012) the TV series not only managed to keep me, but also millions of viewers in different countries, close to the tv. The exciting stories about the residents of Camelot. The conspiracies, intrigues, love, not to mention the magic. Exquisitely cast actors and actresses brought the past to life spectacularly and managed to captivate us every season.
I have all seasons on DVD because I have not found the series on Netflix. The series may be available on the BBC’s online channel. I’ve seen the series four times now. I believe in magic…
The castle, which is so prominently visible in almost all episodes, is something special! What a colossal structure! Towering high above the other surrounding buildings and provided with thick walls with accompanying battlements. Majestic? No, not really. This fort mainly exudes strength. The exterior is not beautiful. Unfortunately, a moat is missing. But it will not have been necessary. It was almost impossible for enemy rulers to enter and take possession of the castle by war and battle.
Located not far from Paris
When I took a closer look at the credits of an episode of this BBC series, I saw that the video recordings were made on location in the French “Chateau de Pierrefonds”. In the village of the same name, not so far from Paris. That surprised me a bit. Because there are many beautiful castles in the UK. So the BBC series location scouts have not found the castle in the UK they want. Where many of the other shots of the “Merlin” series were made. Like in and around Wales.
The impressive images of the Pierrefonds castle remained in my head… One day I googled “Chateau de Pierrefonds” and ended up on the somewhat thin-looking website. I checked Google Maps to find out how many kilometres I had to drive to get there. When the village of Pierrefonds opened in Google Earth and I zoomed in on the castle, I immediately knew for sure: I’m going there!
Taste the atmosphere of the castle
As a photographer you cannot pass up such a beautiful and interesting object, can you? However, the “Merlin” series was the deciding factor. Because it seemed exciting to me to walk through “the decor” which used for the TV series for years. To relive scenes from the series “in your mind” on the spot. Especially to taste the atmosphere of the castle. Unfortunately without the cast of the TV series. That would have been completely insane… I was and still am a big fan of Colin Morgan who played the role of the amiable Merlin at the time.
Beautiful wooded region
I was slightly excited when I saw “Pierrefonds” on the signage. After half an hour’s drive and through all kinds of roundabouts and exits, I entered a beautiful wooded region. I pre-booked a hotel not that far walk from the castle. Pierrefonds is a small village. The hotel was quickly found, as well as a parking space. Chateau de Pierrefonds towers high above the village. I was impressed! To stand face to face with the castle that I had seen in many episodes of Merlin and so wanted to see it with my own eyes. And visit! Now I was there!
A closer look
Immediately after checking into the hotel and taking my belongings to my room, I decided to take a look around the castle. The weather was nice and not too hot. There were also hardly any tourists. Pierrefonds is a remote and quiet village anyway. But oh so beautiful. From the moment I drove in, I felt comfortable here.
The restoration of this building was carried out by the progressive architect Viollet-le-Duc, who lived from 1814-1879. After Viollet’s death, his son-in-law Maurice Ouradou takes over the construction. Until 1884. However, he did not complete construction…
Only when you walk in over the drawbridge, you will soon see where you can buy your entrance ticket. It can of course also be ordered online in advance. Even before you go inside, there is a lot to see outside. What particularly impressed me are the eight defence towers that have a height of no less than 38 meters! The castle is adjacent to a wooded area. It’s especially a real experience to be here when you have seen the Merlin series. You immediately recognize the places where filming took place here for years.
The progressive architect Viollet-le-Duc has turned it into something very special. Which is striking when you enter the large courtyard of the castle. Here the differences between the style of the Middle Ages and Renaissance are visible. What details everywhere! Towers decorated with statues of knights. You look around you in amazement. There is an abundance of sculptures. You will be short of eyes!
Read the full story in Issue 2 of JCW Magazine, coming April. In the magazine also the XL photo reportage.