Where was ‘The Stranger’ filmed?

The Netflix series ‘The Stranger’ takes place in a glossy, imprecise but still firmly recognisable north-west of England.

For those yet to have binged on the ridiculously addictive The Stranger, it’s about a mysterious young woman (aka The Stranger, played by Hannah John-Kamen) who invades the comfortable and contented life of Adam Price (Richard Armitage), unearthing a network of secrets that wreak havoc throughout his picturesque hometown of Cedarfield. It’s based on a bestseller by thriller king Harlan Coben and while the intricate plot and extensive cast remain intact, there’s one big difference: the source novel was set in the USA with Coben’s Cedarfield in New Jersey, but if you’re wondering where The Stranger was filmed, the Netflix adaptation takes place in a glossy, imprecise but still firmly recognisable north-west of England.

As Coben explained at the series launch, this had some distinct advantages: ‘We condensed the world. In the book, The Stranger is dropping bombs all over the country. Here, The Stranger is dropping the bombs in one community.’ It’s also firmly on trend, following a raft of recent projects filmed in the area, from Peaky Blinders to Years and Years, World on Fire to Cobra, as well as forthcoming BBC shows Life and The Barking Murders, and big-screen Spider-man spin-off Morbius. In fact, two previous Coben adaptations, Netflix’s Safe from 2018 and Sky One’s The Five from 2016, were filmed around Manchester and Liverpool respectively. But the question remains: where is this British Cedarfield?

The place to start is the Price family home, which has attracted a great deal of attention on social media. This is Park End House in Didsbury Park, a southern suburb of Manchester. A mid-19th-century build, it was previously a hall of residence for Manchester Polytechnic, and the Manchester Evening News reported a previous owner describing ‘two dilapidated kitchens, sinks in all the bedrooms, a tree growing out of the back room and a jungle of a garden’ – a far cry from the immaculate interior and garden area with hot tub we see on screen. As in the show, the house of the Prices’ neighbours, the Tripp family, is directly over the road; called Pine House, it’s Grade II-listed like Park End.

From here Cedarfield’s identity gets hazier. The sports club where the Price sons play football is Monton Sports Club in Eccles, a town about four miles to the west. The crime scene in Episode 1, where DS Johanna Griffin (Siobhan Finneran) and DC Wesley Ross (Kadiff Kirwan) find a decapitated alpaca in a busy square, was shot in Bury, 10 miles to the north – that’s the Peel Memorial we see, a statue of the Victorian politician by Edward Hodges Baily, who also sculpted the statue atop Nelson’s Column.

Some other key locations are in Bolton, 14 miles north-west. The police station is in the Old Magistrates Court in Le Mans Crescent, a Thirties classical building that sits alongside Bolton Central Library and Bolton Museum Art Gallery and Aquarium. The school the Price boys attend and where their mother Corrine (Dervla Kirwan) is a favourite teacher, is Bolton School, a private day school on Chorley New Road. With 2,400 pupils, it’s spread across several buildings: we see both the Victorian wings and the 2012 Sixth Form Centre, as well as the Great Hall with its full-size organ, venue for the prize evening in Episode 1. We also visit a Bolton landmark later in the series, when Episode 5 shows Johanna and her husband sharing a sandwich on the steps of the Town Hall, a proper Victorian statement of a building (pictured above).

That said, in terms of sheer numbers, Cedarfield is Manchester through and through. The Brown Sugar Café, run by Heidi (Jennifer Saunders), is over the road from Manchester Cathedral: called Café at the Cathedral, it’s a handy spot for visitors. In Episode 2, when Heidi meets her daughter ‘in town’, she’s over in St Peter’s Square (pictured above), under the colonnade of the Thiritess Town Hall extension. Just round the corner in The Great Northern is the All Star Lanes bowling alley where we meet another victim of The Stranger on a hen party, and a few streets further on is Hardman Square, where in Episode 4 we see Ed (Anthony Head) have his own Stranger-danger moment while leaving his office before a sit-down in a nearby restaurant, Blockhouse Grill on New York Street. Later in the same episode we see Adam meet an old flame for a drink in Gusto on Lloyd Street, while the scene of Episode 5’s undercover police operation is the Grand Pacific on Spring Gardens.

A little out of town is the old Spire Hospital in Whalley Range, used for The Stranger’s office in Episode 5, while in Episode 2 Adam tracks the mysterious Suzanne down to Great George Street in Salford – that’s the clocktower of St Philip’s Church looming over the modern block. Further afield is the alpaca farm in Episode 1 where the animals are named after boyband members: it’s White Peak Alpaca Farm in Mobberley, 15 miles to the south. The viaduct where the Prices find themselves after a long search in Episode 4 is in Martholme, 30 miles north.

If anywhere can stake a claim to being ‘the real Cedarfield’, though, it’s probably Stockport. That’s the town’s railway station in Episode 4 and its Plaza cinema, where The Stranger is working in Episode 5. In Episode 7, Adam chases a lead along its streets, passing through the boutique shopping area of Underbank before he reaches the Market Hall (pictured above), the covered shopping area that dates back to the 1860s and was recently refurbished. Known as the Glass Umbrella, it’s an instantly recognisable landmark, used here as the setting for Heidi’s café. Tellingly, it’s also front and centre for our first view of Cedarfield at the very start of the series, rising up over the town. So now we know the truth.

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