When and Where Does Renegade Nell Take Place?

Disney+’s historical series ‘Renegade Nell’ takes place in a pivotal period in the history of the United Kingdom. Even though the narrative primarily focuses on Nell Jackson (Louisa Harland) and her efforts to free herself from a murder charge, her pathway to freedom interconnects with the life of Anne, the Queen of Britain. Through these intertwining characters and storylines, Sally Wainwright’s show offers a glimpse into the history of the Jacobites and their attempts to overthrow Anne. With numerous fictional characters and events, Sally rewrote arguably an unpopular part of the history of the kingdom! SPOILERS AHEAD.

The City of London in the 1700s

‘Renegade Nell’ takes place in London, England, in the 1700s. The series begins in the London town of Tottenham in 1705. The region and the period are highly significant as far as the history of Britain is concerned. The narrative starts a couple of years before the unification of Britain, which happened with the Acts of Union in 1707. Upon the same, Queen Anne, a major character in the period drama, became the first ruler of Britain. In reality, right after the unification, James Francis Edward Stuart tried to invade the kingdom. In the series, the Earl of Poynton tries to pave the way for the same James’ ascension to the throne, replacing Anne.

Through the Earl of Poynton’s efforts to ensure the execution of Anne, Sally Wainwright’s series opens a window into a tumultuous period in British history. The Jacobites’ alliance with France to overthrow the monarch has real-life roots as well. James and his French ships tried to land at the Firth of Forth in Scotland in 1708. However, Sir George Byng was able to handle the predicament, especially since bad weather affected James and his soldiers. The Jacobite efforts during this period paved the way for uprisings in 1715, 1719, and 1745 as well. Since the narrative is not set during one of these uprisings, the writers of the show were able to prioritize Nell without a major historical event overshadowing the character.

Throughout the series, several characters discuss an unrevealed war that takes place in Europe. The particular war also caused a shortage of soldiers in the United Kingdom. Upon learning about this lack, Nell sets out to sign up to become a soldier. The characters must be referring to the War of the Spanish Succession, which was fought between 1701 and 1714, predominantly while Anne was the monarch of Britain. The kingdom joined hands with the Holy Roman Empire and the Dutch Republic to form the Grand Alliance and support Archduke Charles of Austria, the main rival of Philip of Anjou, who ruled Spain between 1700 to 1746.

The choice of Tottenham as a main setting is justified as well. The town is only around nine miles away from Kensington Palace, the royal residence where Queen Anne lived in reality. As the capital of the Kingdom, significant political conflicts unfolded in London in real life as well, which explains why a major part of the narrative is set in the region. Several London landmarks of the time feature in the show, including Newgate Prison, where Nell’s left-hand man Charles Devereux ends up after getting captured. The prison was originally located on the corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey Street in the city.

Sally and her writers integrated several distinguished details or developments associated with the period into the narrative to make the series an exceptional period drama. Nell’s transformation to become a highwaywoman is one of these additions. The period between the Restoration in 1660 and Queen Anne’s death in 1714 is considered the “golden age” of highway robbery.

Read More: Disney+’s Renegade Nell: Is the Adventure Show Fiction or Reality?