Mr Holmes, 2015


Bill Condon


visit the film locations


Flights: Heathrow Airport; Gatwick Airport

East Sussex

Visit: East Sussex

Visit: Sussex

Stay at: Wickham Manor Farm, Wickham Rock Lane, Winchelsea, East Sussex, TN36 4AG (tel: 01797.226216)

Visit: Seven Sisters Country Park, Seaford (rail from London Victoria)

Visit: Hailsham Pavilion, George Street, Hailsham BN27 1AE (tel: 01323.841414)


Visit: Kent

Visit: Chatham Historic Dockyard (tel: 01634.823800) (rail: Chatham, from London Victoria)


Visit: Hertfordshire

Visit: Enjoy Hertfordshire

Visit: Hatfield House (tel: 01707.262823, admission charge, rail: Hatfield, from London King's Cross)


Visit: Japan


For more of the detective, see Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, or Billy Wilder’s superb The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes

Mr Holmes filming location: BHailsham Pavilion, George Street, Hailsham, East Sussex

Mr Holmes location: Holmes goes to see the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ film: Hailsham Pavilion, George Street, Hailsham, East Sussex

Photograph: Hailsham Pavilion

A Slight Trick Of The Mind, Mitch Cullen’s 2005 novel about Arthur Conan Doyle’s great detective, in retirement and fearing encroaching dementia, is adapted as an elegiac drama by Bill Condon, director of Gods And Monsters and Kinsey.

Even though Sherlock Holmes was fighting Nazis on screen back in the Forties (in the person of Basil Rathbone), it still comes as a jolt to see the aged sleuth (Ian McKellen) post-WWII, nuclear age.

Mr Holmes filming location: Bedford Row, London WC1

Mr Holmes location: Holmes and Watson’s ‘Baker Street’ digs: Bedford Row, London WC1

It’s 1947 and he’s retired to a cottage near the sea, tending bees and increasingly dependent on the attentions of housekeeper Mrs Munro (Laura Linney) and her bright and inquisitive young son Roger (Milo Parker).

The country retreat looks a bucolic dream and, the good news is that the delightful farmhouse cottage is not only real, but that you can stay there.

Supposedly in ‘Cuckmere Haven’, it’s Wickham Manor Farm, Wickham Rock Lane, a National Trust B&B in Winchelsea, near Rye in East Sussex. You can even book the ‘Mr Holmes’ cottage for a stay. Winchelsea itself is a small town between the High Weald and the Romney Marsh, about two miles southwest of Rye and seven miles northeast of Hastings.

Mr Holmes regales Roger with the fading recollections of his last case as they walk along Seaford Head on the south coast, with the dramatic white cliffs of the Seven Sisters in the background.

For this spectacular view of the cliffs, head to Seven Sisters Country Park, nearly 700 acres chalk downs off the A259 at Exceat, between Eastbourne and Seaford. If you enjoy hiking in beautiful surroundings, you can walk the ten miles to along the hills to Eastbourne. You can reach Seaford directly by train from London Victoria.

The cliffs can also be seen in Joe Wright’s Atonement, with Keira Knightley and James McAvoy.

Holmes returns from a trip to Japan where he’s been investigating the medicinal properties of a rare herb, and travels back to his home on a wonderful steam train running on the familiar Bluebell Railway in Sussex, with Horsted Keynes Station standing in for ‘Cuckmere Haven’.

The Japanese scenes contain just a few glimpses of the real Japan, courtesy of a second unit. The iron railway bridge overlooked by mountains is the Oigawa Main Line railway, which runs north from Kanaya Station in Shimada to Senzu Station in Kawanehon, about 100 miles west of Tokyo. And the exterior of the restaurant visited by Holmes and his host, Mr Umezaki (Hiroyuki Sanada), is perched above the spectacular Doro-kyo Gorge, a 31-kilometer-long ravine along the Kitayama-gawa River, a tributary of the Kumano-gawa River in the Yoshino-Kumano National Park in the Kii Peninsula south of Osaka.

Most of the ‘Hiroshima’ sequence, though, is filmed at Chatham Historic Dockyard, previously seen in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, with Robert Downey Jr as a very different version of the detective, as well as in Tom Hooper’s film of Les Misérables.

The production turns the Dockyard’s Anchor Wharf and the exterior of the Ropery into Japanese streets, while the Tarred Yarn Store (which was previously used as Jean Valjean’s factory in Les Misérables) becomes the interior of the Japanese restaurant.

The ‘Japanese’ port, where Holmes bids goodbye to Mr Umezaki, is the London Cruise Terminal in Tilbury Docks, on the north shore of the River Thames at Tilbury in Essex.

Tilbury Docks previously stood in for the docks of ‘Venice’ during the boat-chase scene in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, and as ‘Gotham Docks’ in Batman Begins (nearby Tilbury Fort was also used as the ‘Bhutanese’ prison in Christopher Nolan’s film).

The flashbacks to Holmes’s sketchily-remember last case in 1923 use plenty of real period locations around London.

The wittiest joke in the film comes with the revelation that the famous ‘221b Baker Street’ address is a ruse by Dr Watson to distract sightseers from their door (seriously, people would go to gawp at a house just because it was featured in a book?). The elegant Georgian terraces of Bloomsbury stand in for ‘Baker Street’, with 36 Bedford Row at Princeton Street, WC1, becoming the digs of Holmes and Watson.

Mr Holmes filming location: Barter Street, London

Mr Holmes location: music lessons at Madame Schirmer's: Barter Street, London

It’s here that Holmes takes on the case of Mr Kelmot (Patrick Kennedy), who’s worried about the state of mind of his distraught wife, Anne.

The exterior of the bookshop of Madam Schirmer (Frances De La Tour), to which Holmes follows Mrs Kelmot (Hattie Morahan), is 18 Barter Street, WC1, a print and design shop in a tiny row of shops off Southampton Row, just west of Holborn.

Mr Holmes filming location: Dr Williams Library, Gordon Square, London WC1

Mr Holmes location: the bookshop interior: Dr Williams Library, Gordon Square, London WC1

You won’t be surprised to learn that the surprisingly large interior is a different location altogether, a little to the north. The book-filled shelves are those of the Dr Williams Library, 14 Gordon Square, WC1.

And to complicate matters, the view of the gardens from the rear of the shop is New Square in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the quaintly traditional heart of London’s legal profession.

Mr Holmes filming location: Wildy & Sons, Lincoln's Inn Archway, WC2

Mr Holmes location: Mrs Kelmot gazes into the window of ‘Ambrose Chapell’ taxidermist: Wildy & Sons, Lincoln's Inn Archway, WC2

When Holmes exits the shop, he notices Mrs Kelmot gazing into a shop window. The ‘taxidermist’ really is a bookshop – law booksellers Wildy & Sons, Lincoln’s Inn Archway, WC2.

The doorway from which Holmes seems to exit is that of 2 New Square, which you might remember as the chambers of Archie Leach (John Cleese) in A Fish Called Wanda.

The name of the shop in the film, ‘Ambrose Chappell’, is a little movie in-joke. Ambrose Chapel was the Camden taxidermist investigated by James Stewart after the kidnapping of his son in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Ambrose Chapel was, incidentally, a real company which specialised in providing stuffed animals for film productions.

Mr Holmes filming location: The Undercroft, Chapel, Lincoln's Inn, London

Mr Holmes location: Holmes follows Mrs Kelmot: The Undercroft, Chapel, Lincoln's Inn, London

Holmes tails Anne Kelmot through the vaulted Undercroft beneath the Chapel of Lincoln’s Inn. The striking space is a favourite location, seen also in Tony Richardson’s 1963 Oscar-winner Tom Jones – and in the 1995 Ian McKellen screen version of Richard III.

Mr Holmes filming location: Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire

Mr Holmes location: the formal garden – and the ‘Diogenes Club’: Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire

There’s a sudden leap of around 30 miles, north from WC2 to Hertfordshire, to find the formal garden, with its odd geometric topiary where Holmes engages Anne Kelmot in conversation. This is the garden of Hatfield House, Hatfield, another screen favourite.

Hatfield House itself becomes the interior of the ‘Diogenes Club’, where Holmes meets with his brother Mycroft (John Sessions), and collects his belongings after Mycroft’s death.

The house provided the interior of ‘Wayne Manor’ for Tim Burton’s Batman, the castle in Greystoke, The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes and was also home to Lara in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, among many other appearances.

Mr Holmes filming location: Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1

Mr Holmes location: Holmes goes to see the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ film: Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1

In the real London, Holmes queues up with the crowds to see Sherlock Holmes And The Lady In Grey, a fictionalised account of the Kelmot case, outside Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, WC1.

It’s back to East Sussex if you want to see the picture house interior. This is the beautiful 1921 Hailsham Pavilion, George Street in Hailsham, about eight miles north of Eastbourne. The Pavilion, like many other cinemas, closed down in the Sixties, but has been restored, opening in 2000 as an independent cinema which also functions as a theatre and a live music venue.

And one more little movie joke. The actor playing the ‘traditional’ Sherlock Holmes on screen is Nicholas Rowe, who played the youthful detective in Barry Levinson’s Steven Spielberg-produced Young Sherlock Holmes back in 1985.


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