The filming of a period scene, featuring Charles Dance, at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London

Movies filmed on the streets of London – part 1

In Cities, Days Out, London, Movies, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, UK Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

10 Classics flicks through Clerkenwell, Westminster, Borough and Beyond

How often have you sat watching a movie and suddenly a scene flashes by and you think, I recognise that? You head to IMDb.com and search the filming locations et voila, you’re right.
 
Regularly we’ve stumbled upon locations during our travels that ring a bell with us, whether it’s France, Italy, Iceland or Germany.

The filming of a period scene, featuring Charles Dance, at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London

Filming in Greenwich

However, for us, London is a hub for our movie favourites. Having previously worked in London for more years than I care to mention, and then frequently returning since we’ve strolled by many familiar haunts.
 
Actually, the last few times that we we’ve visited London during our January pilgrimage we’ve bumped into film crews dotted around the capital.

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A favourite movie shot; the view across the Millenium Bridge in London, to St Paul's Cathedral, at night

Saint Paul's Cathedral from the Tate Modern - A cinematic view of a London icon

You may have already caught some of these movie classics; as there are some family-friendly films. However, if you are a fan of Bob Hoskins or enjoy a good’ol London mobster flick. Then take a peek at a couple of these.

1 - Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

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This 1998 Guy Ritchie movie is non-stop and interweaving from the beginning until the end.

Card games, gangsters, hippies and gunfights this film as it all.

The cast is incredible too, with the likes of Dexter Fletcher, Nick Moran, Steven Mackintosh, Vas Blackwood and who can forget the invincible Vinnie Jones.

If you’re still in two minds whether to watch Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, in my opinion, for the soundtrack alone it is a must. Keep an eye out for the scenes around Borough in south London.

How to get there

Borough & Borough Market are a stone's throw from London Bridge Station (Both overland & Underground).

For the Tube take the  Northern  line. There is a Borough Station, but that's further from the market & streets in question.

A derelict part of London, just off Borough Market, famous as the boys' lair in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.

Do you recognise this place?

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2 - The Da Vinci Code

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Though The Da Vinci Code is principally set on location in Paris, it is some of the scenes in London that I remember so well. Particularly around Westminster and Temple, the legal district of London.
A column, topped with a Knight Templar, in front of the Templar Church in London's legal district

Th Temple Church in Inner Temple

A stone effigy of the Knight William Marshal above his tomb within Temple Church, London

The Tomb of Knight William Marshal

Now, this 2006 Ron Howard movie, which is based on the Dan Brown novel, is full of twists and turns until the end.

I do love an enthralling suspense thriller, and with actors like Tom Hanks, Sir Ian McKellen, Audrey Tautou and Jena Reno, I don’t think you can go wrong.
 
It lasts around 2hrs 30 mins, so grab your popcorn.

How to get there

Temple is your tube station for this area. It's on the   District   &  Circle   lines.

It's worth noting that the Temple areas are private, and there is no automatic public right of way. So, at some times they may be closed off - for example when they're filming around here!

Want to discover more than about London?

We've a little book on our shelves that we sometimes delve into when we're about to hit an area of London.

Packed full of historical facts, and broken down into the different regions of London, it's a great resource to help you see what's hidden in plain sight.

Available in Kindle & Hardback editions, it's an excellent addition to anyone's collection who loves London.


3 - Four Weddings and a Funeral

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Firstly, I cannot believe that Four Weddings and a Funeral was released in 1994. Knowing that this movie had been written by Richard Curtis, the same talented guy that had penned the Blackadder series, this was going to be good.

It didn’t disappoint, it had comedy, sadness, love and tears and that was just from one scene.

As the title of the movie suggests, weddings feature heavily. It was the location of the 4th Wedding, St. Bartholomew-the-Great, that we spotted while in Smithfield (yes, that famed meat market).
 
Though Hugh Grant was the prominent character in the film and played a great part, I enjoyed the roles of Simon Callow and the late departed Charlotte Coleman.

How to get there

Your closest tube station will be Barbican on the  Bakerloo ,   Circle   or the  Hammersmith & City  lines.

As you approach, make sure you take Cloth Street & Cloth Fair towards Smithfield, and you can see where they parked at the start of that memorable wedding!

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Wedding Four & St Bartholomew-the-Great church, Smithfield

4 - Love Actually

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Richard Curtis pulls it out of the bag again with ‘Love Actually’, yes, an old favourite and especially at Christmas time. This movie is featured heavily across London, including the Southbank, Trafalgar Square, Notting Hill and Selfridges, to name a few.

Strolling along the Southbank of the River Thames in London at night

The Southbank at night

It’s an incredibly heartwarming movie of woven family lives and how individuals’ stories of love and grief intertwine.
 
There isn’t anyone particular main character, although for me I enjoyed the roles played by Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy and Kris Marshall.

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5 - The Long Good Friday

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The 1980 British movie The Long Good Friday starring Bob Hoskins, doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to setting the scene for the London underworld. During the late 1970s, Bob Hoskins’s character deals with bomb attacks, murders, terrorist organisations and general carnage across the city.

The Saint Katharine Docks in London, next to Tower Hill, with small, luxury, private boats moored in front of a historic warehouse building.

St Katharine Docks in London

It is a classic movie and has a few stars that you may recognise from the silver screen nowadays. However, they were a lot younger back then, see if you can spot Pierce Brosnan. One of the lead characters and plays Bob Hoskins girlfriend is Helen Mirren.

The road leading to the entrance of the Savoy Hotel in London, and the final scene of the movie the Long Good Friday.

The world famous Savoy Hotel

The film was shot at various points across London, including the Savoy Hotel and also St Katharine’s Dock. Although I think it looked slightly different back then.

 Movie Trivia

The film also features P.H. Moriarty, Alan Ford and a very young Dexter Fltcher who all went on to star in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.

6 - Mona Lisa

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Oops, sorry another 18 rated movie with Bob Hoskins from 1986. The trouble is they are oustanding films for portraying existence on the seedier side of life. This classic also stars Cathy Tyson, Michael Caine and Robbie Coltrane.
 
Bob Hoskins character is a guy recently released from prison and gets a job as a driver to a beautiful high-end call girl. As you can imagine, things get complicated.

Inside St. Peter's Italian Church in Clerkenwell that featured in the film Mona Lisa

Inside St. Peter's Italian Church in Clerkenwell

Picadilly Arcade, a row of bespoke shops, in an ornate pedestrian thoroughfare in the west end of London, selling the finer things in life

Piccadilly Arcade

Mona Lisa was shot at so many locations around London, particularly Soho and China Town. It was also filmed at The Ritz and St. Peter’s an Italian church in Clerkenwell, that we happened to come across when we visited London last year.

How to get there

The best way to reach Clerkenwell, and specifically the Italian Church, is via Farringdon underground on the  Bakerloo ,  Circle  or the  Hammersmith & City  lines.

It's good to talk

Please share with us your favourite movie locations around London, we’d love to discover more.

7 - Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

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I really don’t believe that this wizardry movie needs any explanation at all. I think if I did attempt to do this, I’d be treading on the toes of avid Harry Potter fans.

A view down Leadenhall Market which doubles as Daigon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Leadenhall Market or Daigon Alley?

The ornate ironwork & glass at the centre of Leadenhall Market which has featured in a few movies over the years

In the centre of Leadenhall Market

However, it goes without saying that the iconic location in London for these films is platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station.

Although the beautiful Victorian Leadenhall Market in the City of London takes some beating.

Fans may recognise it as the location of Daigon Alley and the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron.

How to get there

To get to Leadenhall Market, the best choice is probably Bank underground (  Central  ,  Northern   &   Waterloo & City  lines, but it is also one of the busiest on a weekday (at the weekend you'll see tumbleweed!).

Stroll down Cornhill, and then turn right onto Gracechurch Street and keep and out of the entrance on the left.

Have you seen?

If you enjoy finding out a little more about London districts, take a look at the articles we created for Spitalfields, Smithfield, Clerkenwell, Temple, Westminster, Camden, St James’s and Greenwich.

8 - Skyfall

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The 2012 James Bond movie Skyfall was directed by Sam Mendes and has a hefty quota of London locations throughout.
 
Daniel Craig can be seen in hot pursuit around Whitehall, Parliament Square, Trinity Square, Smithfield, Trafalgar Square, Vauxhall Bridge and the National Gallery where he meets Q. To name a few.

The beautiful detail around Whitehall includes a three-arched bridge over King Charles Street, which is flanked on either side by buildings of state.

Whitehall - A classic London view

Gary and I both enjoy a 007 film and been known to have searched out a couple of the iconic locations around the Italian Lakes.
 
In Skyfall Javier Bardem plays the baddie and the delightful Dame Judi Dench is M.

How to get there

You've two choices here for the streets of Whitehall. The first is Westminster underground (  Circle  &    District   lines) & walk towards Trafalgar Square. Or Charing Cross overland or underground (  Northern   line) and walk down from Trafalgar Square to Westminster.

A helpful guide

If you've yet to discover London and its ancient history, then let's start planning. I find these DK Eyewitness Travel Guides invaluable. They're extremely informative, easy to follow, and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more of those fascinating sites.
 
You can now grab a recently revised copy of this guidebook, so you won't miss a thing.


9 - Snatch

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I can’t believe I’ve chosen another film by Guy Ritchie and it also includes one of my favourite gritty London actors, Alan Ford. Although I must say in Snatch, Alan Ford doesn’t really play an endearing role.
 
There are interesting characters in this gangster movie. When I say interesting, they involve bare-knuckle boxers, jewellery thieves, gamblers, Russian mobsters, dodgy bookmakers and Irish Gypsies. This full-on hilarious and violent movie has it all.

Guy Ritchie does it again

If you like your London underworld movies, then ‘RocknRolla’ is another great watch. This 15-certificate film starring Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton, Tom Wilkinson, Idris Elba and Mark Strong is highly entertaining. Oh, and not forgetting Tom Hardy too.

10 - The Paddington films

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When I was young Paddington Bear was a childhood favourite of mine. Whether it was Michael Bond’s delightful short stories of the marmalade sandwich eating bear or the TV series of Paddington’s escapades through London, I just loved him.
The Guildhall in the centre of the City of London. This medieval town hall dates for the middle of the 15th century but has been restored a number of times due to damage through fire and war.

The Guildhall in the City of London

Now this charming Peruvian bear has made it to the silver screen and been brought to life through the soothing dulcet tones of Ben Whishaw.

The Brown family that have given Paddington a safe haven and often averting disaster around the streets of London are played by some wonderful British icons.

Any film starring Julie Walters is a winner in my book.

How to get there

Guildhall is in the heart of the City of London, so once again the best choice is Bank underground (  Central  ,  Northern   &  Waterloo & City   lines.

Then walk up Princes Street, before turning into Gresham Sreet - a 5 minute walk or so.

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Greenwich, the movie set

Gary and I often visit Greenwich as it holds some delightful family memories for me, and we are always drawn to the Old Royal Naval College.  I love wandering through the grounds of the college, it brings back my childhood. Though now it is an incredibly popular location for filming.

The grand architecture, old streetlamps, cobblestones pathways and the lack of satellite dishes, making it an opportune location to transport you back to the past.

The roofline of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, which has provided the backdrop for many movies.

Recognise this from the movies?

The last time we were at Greenwich Naval College, The Crown was being filmed. We spotted Charles Dance, I was extremely pleased I saw him, not too sure whether Gary was so bothered.
 
A selection of some of the dramas and films that have been shot here are; Skyfall, King’s Speech, The Young Victoria, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Les Misérables.

How to get there

Now it depends where you are coming from.

Greenwich is served by overland service from Central London and the south-east, and also the  Docklands Light Railway .

If you're coming from Central London, you can also take a River Cruise from London to Greenwich.

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About the Author

Janis

Janis, the co-founder of Our World for You, was born in London and raised in Kent and the Isle of Wight. Along with Gary her partner, they have been travelling part time since 1995. In 2016, they decided that enough was enough with the 9 to 5, so armed with the knowledge and experience that they had gained on their adventures, that they wanted to inspire others to travel the world near and far.

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