LAST week, with the school holidays upon us, I took my daughters to Wilton House. It seemed a good use of the day: we could have a picnic lunch, then they could have a runaround on the adventure playground while I had a cup of coffee and read my book (#daddydaycare #parentingmadeeasy).

But when we got there, the number of burly looking security guards and actors dressed in regency costumes suggested the place had been appropriated for other means. Wilton House, it transpired, was being used to film the latest Hollywood version of Jane Austen’s Emma. Rather than clambering on the climbing frames, my daughters sat down, intrigued, to watch how a film was made instead.

Wilton House has a long tradition of being used for film and television purposes. In Jane Austen terms, this is the third film adaptation to be shot there, following on from the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility and the 2004 take on Pride and Prejudice. But the estate’s Adapt and Adaptability stretches beyond a go-to regency location. Wilton House is also a regular regal haunt for work involving King George III (The Madness of King George), Queen Victoria (The Young Victoria) and Queen Elizabeth II (The Crown).

Over the years, Wilton House has also played host to directors such as Ken Russell (The Music Lovers) and Stanley Kubrick (Barry Lyndon). It has doubled up as Cliveden in the 1989 film Scandal and as the Admiralty court martial in the 1984 film The Bounty. It boasts blockbuster credentials, too, with roles in the recent Tomb Raider and Johnny English films. Perhaps, though, my favourite Wilton House usage was for the second season of the eighties comedy Blackadder, with Edmund and ‘Bob’ strolling through the grounds, and then the minstrel annoying Blackadder in the closing credits.

Wilton House isn’t alone in being used for TV and film work. In 2016, the makers of the film Transformers were criticised for first building and then blowing up an imitation Stonehenge in the Wyle Valley. Sam Mendes, meanwhile, is currently filming his new World War One film, 1917, on Salisbury Plain. Earlier this year, a call went out for local men aged 16-35 to appear as extras. I know. Ageism thwarting my chances of Hollywood stardom again.

On the subject of missing a trick, I sometimes wonder whether we should be doing more in promoting our film history in terms of attracting tourism: Northern Ireland, for example, is currently doing a roaring trade in Game of Thrones tours. We’d just need to make sure we attracted the right fans: after all, it’s not that long since Downton received a regular influx of Americans asking, ‘But where’s the Abbey?’