Emma's world is a small one and most of the novel takes place in the fictional village of Highbury in Surrey. Austen describes Highbury as a "large and populous village, almost amounting to a town" and tells us that the village is 16 miles from London, nine miles from Richmond and seven miles from Box Hill. Highbury is most likely an amalgamation of several places, but Austen may have used Letterhead as the template.
Jane Austen spent some time in Surrey visiting her relatives at Great Bookham, where her uncle was the vicar. During these visits, Austen became well-acquainted with the county and local attractions like Box Hill. It's here that she placed Emma's long-awaited day out and the pivotal picnic scene. Now a National Trust site, Box Hill is still an excellent spot for a picnic lunch.
They had a very fine day for Box Hill … Nothing was wanting but to be happy when they got there. Seven miles were travelled in expectation of enjoyment, and every body had a burst of admiration on first arriving
The 2009 BBC adaptation of the Jane Austen classic was primarily filmed in Kent. Scenes set at Highbury, the Woodehouse estate, were shot at Squerryes Court, a 17th Century manor house near Westerham. While the charming village of Chilham in Kent was used for scenes of Highbury. The picnic scene was filmed in Surrey (however, not on Box Hill, but nearby Leigth Hill), as were scenes at Mr Knightley's Donwell Hall, which were shot at Loseley Park.