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When the first ever series of Sex Education debuted on Netflix in 2019, I sat down to watch the first episode and quickly found myself bingeing almost the entire series in one sitting.
I was hooked. You've got sex, debauchery, teenage romance and Gillian Anderson all in one show. For the uninitiated, the story is about a teenager who inadvertently becomes his school's sex therapist.
Yet, this British comedy set in rolling leafy hills left me with one question: where is this set?
The series was filmed in various locations in south Wales and parts of Gloucestershire. Moordale High, the school shown in the show, is the Carleon campus, formerly one of the University of Wales buildings before it was closed in 2016. The school’s gym, which is used in some scenes, is not part of the campus, but was recreated in the town of Penarth in the Paget Rooms.
Another key filming location is the distinctive house that Otis (Asa Butterfield) and his mother Jean (Gillian Anderson) live in, which overlooks the River Wye. The Scandinavian-inspired red and white house is situated in the Forest of Dean and borders Wales and Gloucestershire.
The Chalet, located in Symonds Yat East, was once a B&B and is now available to rent as a short-term holiday let. The “characterful” five-bedroom house offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area, which includes acres of lush woodland and the River Wye.
The Saracen’s Head, a cosy traditional pub, is minutes away, and there are footpaths, cycle trails and canoe hire nearby so you can get you’re guaranteed a good nature fill.
The house is surrounded by gardens and features a plant-filled conservatory, pizza oven, decking area and “secret cinema.” It sleeps up to 10 guests in four double bedrooms and a twin, and pups are welcome too.
The bridge Otis and Eric often cross while heading to school is another beautiful filming location. This is the Old Railway Bridge at Tintern, part of the stunning Wye Valley Walk.
Aimee's house, where she holds a house party in series one and after school 'study' sessions, is Bigsweir House overlooking the banks of the River Wye on the Wales-England border. A Grade II-listed building rebuilt in 1740, the house is now owned by Caroline Hopkinson.
While you may be mistaken for thinking the location has a distinctly American vibe to it – this was done on purpose. Writer Laurie Nunn told Nunn told Radio Times in 2019: “I’ve always been really influenced by American film and TV shows; they played a really big part in my own teenage years, so that was always something I wanted to come back to. It’s definitely set in Britain, but we’ve made a very conscious choice to have that American, throwback nostalgia, John Hughes feel to it.”
Additionally, executive producer and director of the show, Ben Taylor told the publication: “I’ve always been really frustrated that the British school experience is never portrayed with positivity or colour or warmth or hope; it always tends to be sticking two fingers up and saying, ‘I’m out of here as soon as I graduate’.
“Whereas I think there’s an American feeling that, even though the films are riddled with anxieties and angst, you’d still look back at them as the best years of your life. That became the backdrop of what we wanted to set Otis’s story against.”
The show has certainly achieved this positivity, with characters dressed in bright clothes reflective of ‘70s and ‘80s fashion - the stunning scenery in the heart of the Forest of Dean is just the cherry on top.
If you fancy living the authentic Sex Education experience for yourself by spending a few days in Otis’s beautiful fictional home, you’ll have to be quick.
The Chalet is in high demand and the next available rental dates are not until April 2022, when a four-night stay for 10 will set you back £4,400. Get saving.