The Great West Way is a popular area for celebrities to reside in. George Clooney has a mansion in Sonning, Orlando Bloom lived in Henley on Thames where Phillip Schofield is still a resident, Terry Pratchett lived in Wiltshire... there’s just too many to list. What makes the Great West Way even better is our star-studded ties who were born along the way from royalty to internationally acclaimed actors and authors.
1. KATE WINSLET
Famous for her portrayal of Rose in Titanic amongst other big titles, Kate Winslet is a Reading girl at heart. Born in the town in 1975, Kate grew up in West Berkshire where her parents still live today, and went to school in Redroofs Theatre School in Maidenhead. Kate has also appeared in the Divergent films, Finding Neverland, The Reader and Steve Jobs. She has been commemorated by the town with a recycling lorry named after her called ‘Kate Binslet’, a name suggest by local people who recognise her as a local treasure.
2. CARY GRANT
Born in 1904 in Horfield, Bristol, Cary Grant moved to the US and became a Broadway actor and later on, signed to Paramount Pictures. Grant was the first actor to be asked to play James Bond on screen but turned it down, however the bond franchise did use 3 other Bristolians – Caroline Bliss, Samantha Bond and Naomie Harris as Miss Moneypenny. You will find a life-sized statue of Cary Grant in Millennium Square in Bristol and street art to commemorate him on Gloucester Road.
3. BILL BAILEY
Bill Bailey is a British comedian, musician, actor and author born in Bath in 1965. He spent most of his childhood growing up in Keynsham between Bath and Bristol. Bill’s works include Never Mind the Buzzcocks, a global tour of Bewilderness, multiple appearances in QI and Have I Got News for You. Bill often returns to the area performing at gigs and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath in 2018.
4. KATE HUMBLE
Famous on Britain’s television screens for her love of nature and wildlife, Kate Humble is Great West Way born and bred. Born in Wimbledon in 1968, Kate grew up around Bray spending most of her time outdoors with horses and in the countryside. She attended school in Reading and then married husband Ludo Graham, a television producer, in Newbury in 1992. Kate has filmed many programs along the Great West Way including Animal Park with Ben Fogle at Longleat.
5. THE DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE
The Great West Way is familiar with England’s royalty particularly with King Charles residing in the Cotswolds and Henry VIII’s former home Hampton Court Palace on the River Thames. The Duchess of Cambridge is no exception as she is a Great West Way resident through and through. She was born in Reading in 1982 and lived in Bucklebury near Newbury where her family still live. Catherine attended Marlborough College in Wiltshire whilst she was growing up, as did HRH Princess Eugenie.
6. MARY BERRY
The baking phenomenon that is Mary Berry is another lady who is Great West Way through and through. Born in Bath is 1935, Mary moved to France to train at The Cordon Bleu in Paris and then returned to the Great West Way to live in Henley on Thames. Mary has received may accolades in her time but our favourite ones include Freedom of the City of Bath and an Honorary Graduate of Bath Spa University.
7. MICHAEL BOND
Michael Bond, the author of the international sensation Paddington Bear was born in Newbury in 1926 and moved to Reading as a young child. The story of a bear from deepest darkest Peru was first published in 1958 and since then has sold a staggering 35 million copies, been translated into over 40 languages and later turned into a television series and a film.
8. JANE SEYMOUR
Jane Seymour was the ‘fairest of all the king’s wives’ as she became Henry VIII’s wife on 30th May 1536. She gave the king a long awaited son but sadly died from ‘childbed fever’. Born at Wolfhall in Marlborough, Jane grew up in Wiltshire then moved to Hampton Court Palace to be with the King. After her death, she was the only one of Henry’s 6 wives to be given a queen’s funeral, and you can find her buried next to him at Windsor Castle.
9. J.K ROWLING
The famous author of the Harry Potter series injects an element of mystery into the Great West Way. Born in Yate on the outskirts of Bristol in 1965, she used elements of the Great West Way to inspire her writing and the settings for scenes in the movies. Locations used during filming include Lacock Abbey which stood in as Hogwarts and Professor Snape’s classroom during potion class for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Virginia Water outside Windsor was used to portray Hogwart’s Lake in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter of the Goblet of Fire. You can take a look at other locations used in our recommendation – The Best: Places to pretend you’re Harry Potter.
10. MAISIE WILLIAMS
Bristol girl Maisie Williams shot to fame for her role as Ayra Stark in Games of Thrones. Born in the city in 1997, Maisie grew up in Clutton and attended Bath Dance College studying performing arts. As well as Game of Thrones, Maisie has gone on to appear in Doctor Who with 4 guest appearances. Her nightclub of choice in Bristol is Motion and if she was going to the theatre anywhere in the city, her top choice is Bedminster.