From Sherlock season four to The King’s Speech and Black Books, here are 16 of the best London film locations that won’t cost you a penny to visit.
Where: Flaxman Gallery at UCL Art Museum, Gower Street
What: The gallery where Miles (Michael Caine) introduces Cobb (Leonardo Dicaprio) to Ariadne (Ellen Page)
The Flaxman Gallery at the UCL campus in Bloomsbury is open to the public Monday to Friday 1pm-5pm during term time. Find out more about the museum at the UCL website.
Also at UCL, the lecture theatre in ‘Paris’ where Cobb visits Miles in a previous scene is actually the university’s Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre in the Wilkins Building, Gower Street.
Nearest Tube: Euston Square
2. Sherlock season four
Where: Byng Place, Bloomsbury
What: Square where Sherlock eats chips with Faith in season four, episode two
Church of Christ the King in Bloomsbury (and two of the three phone boxes that sit alongside it) is clearly visible in this shot from The Lying Detective. The bus stop where Sherlock talks to Faith about her note must have been added for filming, since there’s no bus stop down this way (or buses, for that matter).
Also featured in series four are Vauxhall Bridge, Borough Market, the London Aquarium, the MI6 Building, Ofcom in Riverside House, the South Bank Centre, Jubilee Gardens, Golden Jubilee Bridge and Festival Hall.
Find out more about the quiet spots of Bloomsbury here.
Nearest Tube: Euston Square or Russell Square
3. Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides & others
Where: Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
What: Hall where Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is dragged by guards
The dramatic landscape and buildings of the ORNC are a perfect backdrop for drama on the big screen, as proven by the number of films shot here.
As well as this scene in Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides, the Painted Hall has also featured in The Iron Lady (standing in for Paris again) and the ORNC grounds have appeared in Les Misérables, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Octopussy, Sense and Sensibility, The Madness Of King George, Four Weddings And A Funeral, Finding Neverland and The Queen among others (find a full list at the ORNC website).
The Painted Hall at ORNC features in my list of beautiful places in London (without the crowds) here.
Nearest Tube: Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich / Greenwich
4. Sherlock season two
Where: St Bartholomew’s Hospital, West Smithfield, London EC1A 7BE
What: The car park and roof of St Bart’s, where Watson (Martin Freeman) watches Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) jump to his ‘death’ in season two, episode three
This infamous scene in The Reichenbach Fall was filmed on location at the actual St Bart’s in West Smithfield; follow the signs to Henry VIII Gate and you’ll be there. Alas, this corner of the hospital is now covered in graffiti, thanks to Sherlock fans who flocked here after the episode was first aired, which is a shame considering that the building was built several hundred years before Sherlock Holmes was a glint in Conan Doyle’s eye.
If you can’t resist running round the car park shouting “Sherlock!!” a la John Watson, just watch out for cars/buses.
Nearest Tube: St Paul’s or Farringdon
5. The King’s Speech
Where: Avenue Gardens, Regent’s Park
What: Gardens where Prince Albert (Colin Firth) and Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) speak – you can see a quick glimpse of the scene about 1m 25secs into the trailer.
To get there, start at Regent’s Park or Great Portland Street tube stations and walk towards the Outer Circle on Park Square East/West to explore the regal and very wonderful Avenue Gardens straight ahead of you. The location for the scene you can see in the trailer (above) is on the far left of the gardens, near the white seating shelter.
Nearest Tube: Regent’s Park or Great Portland Street
More information: www.royalparks.org.uk
6. Sherlock Holmes
Where: The catacombs of Brompton Cemetery
What: Burial site of Lord Blackwood
This scene in the first film of Guy Ritchie’s blockbuster series was filmed at Brompton Cemetery in west London, just outside the suitably spooky catacombs that line the avenue. Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jnr) and John Watson (Jude Law) come here to investigate after Blackwood is ‘resurrected’.
Learn more about the history of Brompton Cemetery, including details about the notable people who are actually buried there.
Nearest station: West Brompton / Fulham Broadway
7. Shaun Of The Dead
Where: Weston Park Grocery, 96 Weston Park, Crouch End
What: The shop where Shaun buys Cornettos
‘The Winchester’ might be long gone, but you can still buy a Cornetto at the corner shop where Shaun starts to notice the zombie carnage spreading towards the start of the film.
As with all the shops in this list, if you’re going to pay a visit, buy something for their trouble and ask permission before taking any pictures.
Nearest station: Hornsey
8. Love Actually
Where: Gabriel’s Wharf (outside The Wharf restaurant), 56 Upper Ground, London SE1 9PP
What: The bench on which Daniel (Liam Neeson) and Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) talk about the ‘total agony of being in love’. The actual bench is the third one to the left of the curved gate (straight ahead of you when you stand outside the restaurant).
St Paul’s Cathedral was presumably ‘moved’ in post-production, since it seems a lot closer to the camera in this scene than it does in real-life (above right), yet you can clearly see the restaurant and other buildings behind it when you watch the clip.
When you’re done here, hop on the Jubilee line to Bond Street, where you’ll find another of the film’s free filming locations: Selfridges. The scene where Harry (Alan Rickman) tries to buy a necklace from Rowan Atkinson’s eccentric shop assistant character was filmed here.
Other locations are Grosvenor Chapel in South Audley Street, Mayfair, which is where Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter’s (Chiwetel Ejiofor) wedding was filmed, and , of course, Heathrow Airport, where the film opens and closes to accompany Hugh Grant’s voiceover.
Nearest Tube: Westminster
9. Mr Selfridge
Where: 26 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2ET
What: Exterior Shots of Harry Selfridge’s house
This ornate 19th-century building is currently being leased by the Royal College of Organists but leads a double life as a stand-in for Mr Selfridge’s (Jeremy Piven) home. The real-life Harry Selfridge lived in Arlington Street near Green Park.
While you’re in the area, pop around the corner to see Queen Alexandra’s House, used in The X Files and Tinker Tailor Solider Spy (see #7, below).
Nearest Tube: South Kensington, High Street Kensington or Knightsbridge
10. Black Books
Where: Collinge & Clark bookshop, 13 Leigh Street, London WC1H 9EW
What: Exterior shots of the Black Books shop
This filming location is actually a bookshop, and it is actually black, although I’m sure the staff are much friendlier than in the TV series. And it’s much more organised inside than Bernard’s store. If you do go in, be nice and buy something – they sell rare and specialist books and there are bargains to be had in the basement, too.
Nearest Tube: Russell Square or Euston
More information: www.collingeandclark.co.uk
11. Four Weddings and a Funeral & others
Where: St Bartholemew The Great, Smithfield, EC1
What: This east-end church has had screentime in so many films that it might be considered Oscar-worthy. Its impressive portfolio includes Four Weddings and a Funeral (as the church in the fourth wedding), Shakespeare in Love, Amazing Grace, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Other Boleyn Girl, Snow White and the Huntsman, Sherlock Holmes (as the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral) and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, as well as the BBC’s Richard II.
The building still functions as a church and visitors are welcome, but if you visit when a service is in progress you won’t be able to go into the main part of the church. More information is available on their website.
Nearest Tube: Barbican
More information: www.greatstbarts.com
12. Sleepy Hollow / GoldenEye / Tomorrow Never Dies
Where: Somerset House
What: St Petersburg square in GoldenEye, the Ministry Of Defence in Tomorrow Never Dies and turn-of-the-century Manhattan in Sleepy Hollow.
Somerset House is quite the multi-talented location: as well as appearing as itself in the opening scenes of Love Actually (with the ice rink) it also plays the part of other buildings in two Bond movies and the Johnny Depp horror Sleepy Hollow.
Nearest Tube: Temple
More information: www.somersethouse.org.uk
13. 28 Days Later
Where: Westminster Bridge
What: Shots of Jim’s walk across the deserted bridge
Starting at the London Eye side, walk across the bridge towards Big Ben to recreate the infamous scene of devastation (with a few more tourists in the way, obviously).
Nearest Tube: Westminster
14. Sherlock (all series)
Where: 187 North Gower Street, London, NW1 2NJ
What: Exterior shots of 221B Baker Street
Not only can you stand right outside the door where Sherlock and Watson’s adventures played out, but you can also buy a cuppa in Speedy’s Cafe next door, where Watson met with Mycroft in season two’s A Scandal In Belgravia.
There are, of course, many other Sherlock filming locations that are completely free to visit. The brilliant Sherlockology website has a full list.
Nearest Tube: Warren Street, Euston Square or Euston
15. The X Files / Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Where: Queen Alexandra’s House, Bremner Road, Kensington Gore SW7 2QT
What: The location for Mulder’s meeting with the elders and Control’s flat
Overlooking the Albert Hall and just round the corner from Mr Selfridge’s home (see above) is the site of not one but two filming locations. Queen Alexandra’s House is currently used as secure accommodation for women but gave its image to both The X Files and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy movies.
Nearest Tube: South Kensington, High Street Kensington or Knightsbridge
16. Bridget Jones’ Diary
Where: The Globe pub, 8 Bedale Street (just off Borough Market), London SE1 9AL
What: Exterior shots of the entrance to Bridget’s flat
The area surrounding this famous filming location has suffered a bit thanks to the building of Borough Viaduct, which now blocks the top of the pub, but the area surrounding the entrance to the flat (where Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver’s fight ends on the table of the restaurant opposite) has thankfully stayed much the same.
Daniel Cleaver’s flat is also just around the corner at Clink Wharf Apartments in Clink Street and the location for the final kiss with Mark Darcy is at the Royal Exchange in Cornhill. Much of the surrounding area was used for scenes in the original movie and the sequel: the excellent movie-locations.com has more details.
Nearest Tube: London Bridge