When this 18th century palace, on the south side of the Strand, was to be the registry of births, marriages and deaths, The Jackal (Edward Fox) collected his false birth certificate here in Fred Zinnemann’s 1973 film The Day of the Jackal.
The registry subsequently relocated to St Catherine’s House, at which point the handsome central courtyard was relegated to the role of car park. During this time it saw frequent service as a movie backdrop, featuring in two Pierce Brosnan Bond movies – in Goldeneye, the courtyard is the ‘St Petersburg’ square where Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker) uses a sledgehammer to fix his car after picking up James Bond from the airport. It was magically reinvented as the ‘Ministry of Defence’ in Tomorrow Never Dies.
In Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Somerset House provides the exterior of ‘The Diogenes Club’, the comfortable retreat of Sherlock’s smarter, older brother Mycroft (Christopher Lee). It’s a club again, ‘Pratt’s’, where Viggo Mortensen calls on Nicole Kidman in Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady.
Brian Gilbert’s biopic Wilde turned the courtyard into the exterior of the writer’s West End apartment. Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow passed it off as turn-of-the-century ‘Manhattan’ thanks to CGI of course. In Shanghai Knights it’s ‘Buckingham Palace’ where, with a bit of prompting from Owen Wilson, Jackie Chan invents the kung fu movie.
Somerset House underwent a major refurbishment during the late 1990s, to become a centre for the visual arts, and its carpark has been transformed into a pleasant fountain court, through which Aishwarya Rai dances in Bride And Prejudice, and in winter, a skating rink, which is how it appears in Love Actually.
If you're blue and you don't know where to go to why don't you go where fashion sits - Puttin' on the Ritz! As the lyrics of the song goes, everyone knows of the Ritz. You once could pop in for afternoon tea, but now you need to book, its quite popular!
Anna Scott (Julia Roberts) takes a suite at the Ritz for the embarrassing press junket at which William Thacker (Hugh Grant) is obliged to pass himself off as a reporter from Horse and Hound in Notting Hill. The hotel was previously a hangout for working girl Cathy Tyson in Mona Lisa, and Modesty Blaise (Monica Vitti) visits her Arab chums here in Joseph Losey’s heavy-handed 1966 film of the famous cartoon strip.
Sheraton PiccadillyThe British puritanical streak, which likes to equate the sybaritic luxury of Mayfair with criminality, is neatly summed up in the opening scene of Gangster No. 1, where Malcolm MacDowell – almost – drinks a flute of pee-contaminated champagne. The luxurious toilet was that of the Sheraton Park Lane. Hooker Cathy Tyson works the hotel in Mona Lisa.
But on the up-side, drink in the art deco splendour of its Silver Gallery, which stood in for the ‘Cafe Royal’ in Neil Jordan’s The End of the Affair.
Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) lives her singleton life above the Globe in Bridget Jones’s Diary, and again in Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason. The pub appeared far less cosy as the sleazy ‘Critchley Hotel’ in the 1992 Michael Caine-Bob Hoskins caper movie Blue Ice.
Across the street you can see the shops that were transformed into the cab office, the newsagent and, of course, at 5 Bedale Street the fictitious Greek restaurant where Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) and Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) slug it out during a birthday party. Bridget goes through Borough Market in her Bunny Girl outfit after discovering Daniel with ‘Lara, from the New York Office’.
No this isn't really the home of the Ministry of Magic which appeared in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. On Great Scotland Yard, running between Whitehall and Northumberland Avenue, at the junction with Scotland Place, stood that red phone box containing the visitors’ entrance. But if you do visit, be warned, there is no phone box. A second fake bridge was added to cover up the office door alongside.
On the same street, piled high with sandbags, Robbie Turner (James McAvoy) says his goodbyes to Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley) before going off to war in Atonement.
On Gabriel’s Wharf, in front of the Riviera Restaurant, 56 Upper Ground, you’ll find the bench on which Daniel (Liam Neeson), during a heart-to-heart chat, discovers that his distracted son (Thomas Sangster) is actually in love in Love Actually.
East along Queen’s Walk is the Oxo Tower Wharf complex, home to Mark (Andrew Lincoln), where he leaves Juliet (Keira Knightley) with the wedding video, in the same film. He leaves the flat from the rear entrance of the wharf building on Barge House Street, through the courtyard to Oxo Tower Wharf itself.
It’s on the pier here that Maurice (Peter O’Toole) recites Macbeth for an unappreciative Jessie (Jodie Whittaker) in the 2006 film Venus.
Near the Tower of London, is the vast and elaborate Willis Group Building, office of insurance company Willis Faber (formerly the Port of London Authority building), which has a history as a film location dating back to 1960, when the army escort for the Sultan’s diamonds starts out from here in the Peter Sellers comedy caper Two Way Stretch.
In 1976, the building became the venue for the ‘Oil Producers International Conference’, where we see British delegate Ian Bannen receive a disturbing phone call, at the opening of Sweeney! More recently, the Willis Group Building was seen in 1998’s Liverpool-set music comedy Swing, with Hugo Speer and Lisa Stansfield.
Most famously, its pillared frontage featured as the mansion of the villainous Manfred Powell (Iain Glen) in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
London is such a popular location for filming. You don't need Googlemaps or Streetview anymore, just watch enough movies and you'll see most of it. These are just a few of the movies to watch to make your next journey around London even more exciting!
Since creating this list, and searching for details of '28 Days Later' filming locations, I found a gentleman who takes holiday snaps in the same position as films, in the same location - has to be viewed to be appreciated. Check out the link...