When and Where Does The Strays Take Place? Is the Castle Combe School Real?

Director Nathaniel Martello-White’s ‘The Strays’ is a horror thriller film released on Netflix. Dealing with complex themes such as internalized racism, the film stars Ashley Madekwe (‘The Umbrella Academy‘) as Neve, a biracial woman living a perfectly curated life in a predominantly White British suburb. However, Neve’s life is unended after the sudden arrival of two mysterious strangers forces her to confront her past. Given the film’s depiction of class divide and racial discrimination, viewers must be curious to learn more about its setting and period. If you are looking for answers about when and where ‘The Strays’ takes place, here is everything you need to know! SPOILERS AHEAD!

Setting and Timeline of ‘The Strays

‘The Strays’ opens in the past, giving viewers a look at protagonist Cheryl’s life. She and her husband are facing financial issues, and Cheryl’s husband is abusive toward her. As a result, Cheryl abounds her life and makes a fresh start. The opening sequence is set roughly 17-18 years before the rest of the movie. After Cheryl moves away and changes her name to Neve, the story shifts to the present day. Hence, it is safe to say that the opening sequence is set sometime in the early 2000s. On the other hand, most of the movie takes place in the present day, in the year 2023.

In ‘The Strays,’ Cheryl leaves her old life behind and eventually settles in a British suburban town. She is married to Ian Williams, and the couple has two children, Mary and Sebastian. The family lives in a luxurious house, and Neve is the deputy headmistress at the Castle Combe School. Neve is biracial but abandons any connection to her African heritage to make a place for herself in the predominantly white community. As a result, the movie’s setting plays an essential role in the story and highlights Neve’s attempts completely erase her past.

The movie is set in the village of Castle Combe. It is situated in Wiltshire county of South West England. The town of Chippenham lies around 5 miles (8 km) northwest of Castle Combe. The Scrope family owned the village for nearly five centuries until the late 19th century. Its name was derived from a castle in the area that was eventually demolished. Presently, Castle Combe is known for housing Castle Combe Circuit, a popular motorsports venue in the country. It is also a popular tourist destination because of its cultural heritage. Castle Combe has also served as the filming location for the British historical drama series ‘Downton Abbey.’

Castle Combe School is Fictional

In the film, the Castle Combe School is one of the recurring settings, and several important sequences occur at the property. Neve is the deputy headmistress at the school, and her children also study there. However, the school appears to be a fictional creation and does not exist in reality. In reality, a similarly named Castlecombe Primary School is situated on the edge of Elmstead Woods in the London Borough of Bromley. However, the film’s iteration is not a primary school.

Castle Combe School is a private high school located in the titular civil parish. Hence, it is safe to say that the Castle Combe School from ‘The Strays’ is fictional and derives its name from the movie’s primary setting. The school allows the narrative to explore themes such as class division and racism and plays an important part in highlighting the predominately White population of the setting.

Read More: Is Netflix’s The Strays Based on a True Story?