London is an incredibly photogenic city and, as such, has always proved a draw for film makers looking to shoot scenes against some of the world’s most iconic backdrops.
Our movie locations resource looks at some of the places that have been used in a variety of films that range from the Harry Potter films to the James Bond and Sherlock Holmes movies.
London Zoo. It was in the reptile house in London Zoo that Harry made the discovery that he could talk to snakes (parse tongue if you want to use the technical term!)
Cecil Court, off Charing Cross Road. This was the reputed inspiration for Diagon Alley.
Australia House, Strand. Although the exterior was a film set it was inside the main hall of Australia House, which was used as the banking hall of Gringott's Bank.
King's Cross Station. J. K Rowling chose King's Cross Station as the departure point for the Hogwarts Express because her parents met and she'd always thought it a special place throughout her childhood.
Platform 9 and 3/4. In the films platform 9 and 3/4 is, in fact, situated between platforms 4 and 5. However, there is now an actual Platform 9 and 3/4 located in the newly refurbished section of King's Cross Station. A luggage trolley, stacked with a trunk and an owl’s cage, is embedded in the wall. You often have to queue to get your photo taken, it's that popular!
Scotland Place. It was here that the telephone box was located via which Harry and Mr Weasley descended into the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix. The phone box itself was a prop which was taken away after the scene had been filmed.
The same corner was also used in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One when Harry, Ron and Hermione use a stunning spell on three Ministry of Magic employees in order to assume their forms, courtesy of the polyjuice potion, so that they can infiltrate the Ministry of Magic.
Horse Guards Avenue. Behind the black Statue of Spencer Compton was where the Staff entrance to Ministry of Magic was located in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One. As with the phone box used for the Visitors entrance, the toilet sign that marked the staff entrance was a prop specially brought in for filming and taken away once filming had been completed. It’s worth remembering that staff enter the Ministry by flushing themselves down the toilet!
Shaftesbury Avenue/Piccadilly Circus. In Deathly Hallows Part One, when the death eaters disrupt on Bill and Fleur's Wedding with a violent attack, Harry Ron and Hermione are forced to apparate away from the danger. They re-appear at the junction where Shaftesbury Avenue meets Piccadilly Circus and are almost run over by an approaching number 19 bus. Having jumped out of its way they head off along Shaftesbury Avenue, where the walk past the line of grey circular grey, concrete columns.
Lambeth Bridge. En route to the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban the knight bus drives over this bridge and squeezes between two approaching buses.
The Old PLA Building, 10 Trinity Square, Tower Hill. In Skyfall M comes here for a meeting with Gareth Mallory. The impression given in the film is that she has visited one of the government buildings on Whitehall, wheereas, in fact, it was this building situated on the opposite side of the road from the Tower of London. The wonders of film making!
In Skyfall M is returning to MI6 over Vauxhall Bridge when she is stopped by a police road block just as her office explodes.
Needless to say the film makers didn’t actually blow a hole on the building but rather used computer trickery to achieve the effect.
The building also featured in Goldeneye, albeit without the permission of M16, which didn't go down too well with officialdom. The film makers asked for permission to film the riverboat chase at the beginning of The World is Not Enough on the Thames in front of the building but were, reputedly, turned down on security grounds. The story goes that the then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook overruled the decision with the comment "After all Bond has done for Britain, it was the least we could do for Bond." The Foreign Office later denied this!
The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich. In Skyfall M attends the funeral of the victims of the explosion here, although most of the sequence was cut from the finished film with the result that the building’s appearance is a fleeting one. We see M standing by the flag draped coffins in the King William Undercroft, which is sitauted beneath the Painted Hall.
In Skyfall. When M returns to her "Knightsbridge" home, to find that Bond is very much alive and ready to come back into service, the exterior was in fact this address in Chelsea.
The film makers were, in fact, paying a veiled tribute to John Barry, who had died in 2011, and who was responsible for so many of the classic Bond tunes. This was his London home and they though it would be a nice, though discreet way, to acknowledge Barry’s contribution to the James Bond movies.
Smithfield Market Car Park. Since MI6 is not operational, thanks to the explosion, Bond is taken to a standby, underground facility, the entrance to which was via the rotund that leads down to the massive car park beneath Smithfield Market in the City of London. The market is clearly visible in the scene.
However, the underground labyrinth to which MI6 relocated was filmed in the Old Vic Tunnels, a vast network of disused railway vaults beneath Waterloo Station.
National Gallery. Having been told by M that he has been deemed psychologically and physically fit to return to duty, Bond meets with the new Q in Room 34 of the National Gallery. They meet in front of Turner's The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last Berth to be broken up, 1838. The painting's imagery, showing as it does the fate of a once valued asset that has outlived its usefulness, mirrors the way that both Bond and M are feeling about
Virgin Active Canary Riverside Club in Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf. In Skyfall this was the rooftop swimming pool scene was filmed. The pool purported to be at on the roof of Bond's Hotel in Shanghai. The view of Shanghai was, however, added digitally later on!
Broadgate Tower, 201 Bishopsgate. When 007 follows his prey from Shanghai Airport to the gleaming high rise tower block where he is to carry out the assassination, the exterior of the “Shanghai” tower bock was, in fact, the Primrose Street entrance to the Broadgate Tower close to Liverpool Street Station.
Department of Energy and Climate Change, 55 Whitehall. This was where the rooftop scene at the end of the film was shot with stunning views along Whitehall towards Big Ben. The domed towers visible in the scene are those of the Old War Office, the next building along on Whitehall, which was used as the Headquarters of MI6 in A View To A Kill, Octopussy and Licensed To Kill.
According to Ian Fleming's friend, and assistant at The Sunday Times, John Pearson, this was the most likely location of James Bond's bachelor pad in London.
Fleming doesn't actually specify an exact address but rather refers to Bond’s home as being located on a ‘little plane tree’d square off the Kings Road.’
Pearson identified 30 Wellington Square, off Kings Road, as James Bond's abode in biographies of Fleming that he wrote in 1966 and 1973. The house was recently on the market for £6.35m.
Carlyle Mansions, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. Perhaps one of London's most literary addresses, this has been home to such literary luminaries as T.S. Eliot, Henry James, Somerset Maughan and Ian Fleming.
It was whilst living here, at number 24, that Fleming commenced work on his first Bond book Casino Royale in 1952, typing out the manuscript on a gold-plated typewriter.
Fleming was a keen birdwatcher and amongst his books was Birds of the West Indies by the American ornithologist James Bond. He later commented that he had been struck by this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet "very masculine name", adding "and so a second James Bond was born".
Temple Arch and Middle Temple Lane. In the opening scene of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes we see Inspector Lestrade and Dr Watson racing along here en route to St Paul's Cathedral.
St Paul's Cathedral. They arrive at St Paul's where the chase down the spiral staircase is filmed.
St Paul's most famous film appearance, however, wasn't actually filmed at St Paul’s but was actually shot on a film set. It is the Feed the Birds sequence in Mary Poppins. The Cathedral is also a backdrop in The Madness of King George, Lawrence of Arabia, and David Lean's Great Expectations.
St Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield. This is the oldest parish church in London, dating back to the year 1123. In Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes the nave of the church became the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral where Lord Blackwood was apprehended as he prepared to perform a human sacrifice at the start of the film.
The Church has also featured In Robin Hood Prince of Thieves; Four Weddings and a Funeral; Shakespeare in Love; Elizabeth; The Golden Age and The Other Boleyn Girl.
Somerset House, Strand. The scene when Holmes visits Lord Blackwood's prison cell at Pentonville Prison, on the eve of the latter’s impending execution, was filmed here.
The Reform Club, 104 Pall Mall. This was used for both the exterior and the interior of the Cafe Royal. Holmes turns up at the meal of Watson and his fiancé, Mary Morstan. He insults Mary and she throws her drink over him.
The College of Arms, Queen Victoria Street. This was used for the exterior of the home of Lord Chief Justice Sir Thomas Rotheram. It was here that he is found murdered in his bath, apparently by supernatural means.
The Punch Bowl. Farm Street, Mayfair. This, cosy and atmospheric little pub was, until recently, part owned by Guy Ritchie.
185 North Gower Street. This was used as 221B Baker Street in the BBC series Sherlock.
St Bartholomew's Hospital, Pathology Department, Giltspur Street. This is where Holmes and Watson meet in the first Sherlock Holmes story A Study In Scarlet.
In Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch, as Sherlock Holmes, apparently commits suicide by jumping off the roof of the Pathology Department at Bart’s Hospital as John Watson looks on.
Battersea Power Station.At the start of The King’s Speech, during the broadcast, supposedly from Wembley Stadium in London, but actually filmed at Elland Road in Leeds, the old disused control room of Battersea Power Station was used as the BBC radio control room with the long rows of dials.
33 Portland Place. The Duke and Duchess of York actually lived at 145 Piccadilly, near Hyde Park Corner, but their house was destroyed in World War 11. So in the film 33 Portland Place was used as the exterior of their house. The building is now a party venue that can be hired.
Harley Street. Seeking a cure for her husband's stammer the Duchess of York, under the alias of Mrs Johnson, visits Lionel Logue, speech therapist, at his Harley Street consulting room. Harley Street itself has seen some modernisation since the 1920's, but the film makers used an old-fashioned pea-souper fog to mask the modern buildings.
33 Portland Place. The interior of Lionel Logue's consulting room was, in fact, the interior of the same building that was used as the exterior for the home of the Duke and Duchess of York in the film!
The same room, incidentally, was used for the video of Amy Winehouse's video for Rehab.
George Farmiloe 28-36 St John Street, Clerkenwell. The first floor of this building was used for Gotham City Police Station in Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.
Garrick Theatre, Charing Cross Road. This was Gotham Opera House in Batman Begins and was where a bat-infested production creeps out the young Bruce Wayne.
Senate House, Russell Square, Bloomsbury. The ground floor interior of Senate House was used as Gotham City Courthouse in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
RADA 62 – 64 Gower Street. Established by Herbert Beerbohm Tree in 1904 at His (now Her) Majesty's Theatre, RADA offers vocational training for actors, stage managers, directors, designers and technical stage craft specialists. You can also attend poetry readings here.
Brompton Oratory. Alfred Hitchcock and his wife Alma Reville were married here in 1926.
Hyde Park. During World War 1 Alfred Hitchcock, who was turned down for the army on account of his obesity, enlisted in the Royal Engineers as a cadet and used to march around Hyde Park on weekend training, although he said he could never master the art of fastening the Puttees (bandages) around his legs.
Chelsea Registry Office, King's Road. Judy Garland married her fifth, and final, husband, Mickey Deans, here on March 15th 1969, just a few months before her death. Of the 250 guests who agreed to attend only 50 actually turned up. Even Judy Garland's daughter, Liza Minnelli, who had turned 23 just three days before, had called her mother to say "I can't make it, Mama, but I promise I'll come to your next one."
In 1928 Bessie Wallis Warfield married her second husband Ernest Aldrich Simpson her and became Mrs Wallis Simpson.
Carol Reed's House, King's Road. One of two illegitimate sons of Herbert Beerbohm Tree by his mistress Mary Pinney, Carol Reed was the uncle of hell raising actor Oliver Reed. He is best remembered today as the director of the film version of the musical Oliver.
74 Cheyne Walk. Laurence Olivier and his then wife, Jill Desmond, moved here in June 1933.
4 Christchurch Street. In 1936 Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, having left their respective spouses, bought this cottage and renamed it Durham Cottage. Olivier sold it in 1955.
54 Eaton Square. This was Olivier and Leigh's last London apartment together, which she kept when they divorced in 1960. On July 12th 1967 Vivien Leigh was found dead in her bedroom here.
13 Old Burlington Street. This was formerly the shop of milliner Herbert Johnson where, one afternoon in 1980, two American men, who introduced themselves as Mr Steven Spielberg and Mr Harrison Ford, arrived with a very special request.
They explained that they were about to make an adventure film called Raiders of the Lost Ark. and a hat would be pivotal to the character that Harrison Ford was to play. Could the assistant could advise them on a suitable one?
Since they weren't looking for any particular style or time period, the assistant suggested the oldest head gear they had in stock, a tall, crowned Herbert Johnson wide brim fur, felt hat called "The Poet". This particular style had,the assistant told the two visitors, been manufactured continuously since the 1890's and was, therefore, considered ageless.
Since Indiana Jones would be wearing the hat in a variety of terrains, a shade of brown called Sable was chosen. The workshop staff then made suitable alterations to the hat and the two men left, apparently very satisfied with their purchase.
The following week the shop received an order for 45 hats of assorted sizes, for Mr. Ford and the stunt extras!
Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts and actor Jack Nicholson were also customers of this store.
The Palace Theatre. On November 2nd 1933 Fred Astaire opened at the Palace in the Gay Divorce, which ran for 180 performances. This would be his last London stage performance before going to Hollywood and making his name in films.
Throughout the 1920's Astaire and his sister Adele were an enormously popular act, performing and dancing together in musicals in London and New York. But in the early 1930's their partnership ended when Adele married Lord Charles Arthur Francis Cavendish, a son of the Duke of Devonshire.
For Gay Divorce he partnered with Claire Luce who later recalled how she had to encourage him to take a more passionate and romantic approach to their dancing by telling him "come on Fred I'm not your sister you know."
In 1983 The Palace was the first West End theatre to be purchased by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and it was in his flat over the theatre that much of Phantom of the Opera was written.