London is a culture powerhouse. Throughout the centuries, it has given the world many artists, writers, actors, models, playwrights, among others. Many a famous novel or poem o film is about or is set in London. The city has been, and probably will continue to be, the location of films. The views of the Thames, the Houses of Parliament, the City and many other places have become familiar with viewers around the world thanks to films like the James Bond franchise.
However, there are too many locations to fit here so I made a selection of well-known films and some of their real locations compared to my own photos of those places.
Greystoke, the Legend of Tarzan (1984) at the Natural History Museum in Kensington
The scene in which John, the new Earl of Greystoke, discovers many caged apes from Africa, including his adoptive ape father takes place in the museum. The two recognise one another. John sets the animals free and he and his “adoptive father” make a bid for freedom to a park, which is Kensington Park in real life. The park is not right across the street from the museum, by the way.
I remember being fascinated by this film. I even thought it could be a somewhat true story. I was a teenager then with lots of romantic ideas about the world.
St. Bartholomew the Great church
This church, hidden behind an Elizabethan gateway in West Smithfield, is said to be the oldest –or second oldest- church in London. It has also been the location of many films, like Four Weddings and a Funeral (this is where Charles has second thoughts), or Elizabeth: The Golden Age (the site of the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots). It also featured in Shakespeare in Love, The Other Boleyn Girl and many other period movies. It was used to represent Nottingham Cathedral in Robin Hood, Prince of thieves with Kevin Costner.
I thought St. Bartholomew was rather dark and unwelcoming. And it is not as big as it appears to be on film. The magic of the camera, I guess.
The Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great: West Smithfield, London EC1A 9DS
The Da Vinci Code (2006) at Temple Church
The Temple Church was built in the 12th century by the Knights Templar as their English headquarters. The Temple Church was designed with a round shape after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This is where new knights were initiated. Their secret ceremony captured the imagination of many people throughout the centuries and gave rise to absolutely fanciful stories, as well as gossip and rumour, about the Templars. Nine Knights Templar are buried in the church. Their effigies are worn in places but still manage to convey the bravery and dignity of these warriors.
The Temple Church is hidden inside the Inns of Court and it can prove tricky to find. Or at least I had trouble finding it. It’s no surprise that all this secrecy, mysterious codes and clandestine fit perfectly well in the storyline of The Da Vinci Code. The two main characters, Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) come to the Temple Church in hopes of solving this riddle: “In London lies a knight a Pope interred. His labour’s fruit a Holy wrath incurred. You seek the orb that ought to be on his tomb. It speaks of Rosy flesh and seeded womb.” Did they solve it? You’ll have to watch the film –or read the book.
Bourne Ultimatum (2007) at Waterloo Station
Waterloo Station was opened in 1848 and underwent several renovations. It isn’t just a station; it is a railway and underground hub. Thousands of people pass through this station daily. This makes a perfect setting for an adrenaline charged scene in Bourne Ultimatum.
Waterloo Station is located in the South Bank at the foot of Waterloo Bridge.
Closer (2004) at Postman’s Park
I came across Postman’s Park quite by chance, as I happened to be walking around Little Britain. Besides being the location of key scenes from Closer, it is a peaceful park and the biggest within the City of London. It houses the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, covered with ceramic tiles with the names and actions of citizens who lost their lives while saving others. Lovers Alice (Natalie Portman) and Dan (Jude Law) visit this memorial during the film.
The park is bordered by Little Britain, Aldersgate Street, St. Martin’s Le Grand and King Edward Street, very close to St. Paul’s Cathedral.