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Friday August 17th 2018

Young Sherlock Holmes | 1985

Young Sherlock Holmes filming location: Belvoir Castle, near Grantham, Leicestershire
Young Sherlock Holmes location: Waxflatter demonstrates his flying machine: Belvoir Castle, near Grantham, Leicestershire | Photograph: Wikimedia / Fastly

Despite the presence of producer Steven Spielberg, director Barry Levinson (responsible for Diner and Rain Man) and writer Chris Columbus (director of Home Alone), the story of Holmes and Watson’s schooldays didn’t take flight as it might have done – although it earned its place in the history books with the first completely CGI character (the knight emerging from the stained-glass window).

The fictional ‘Brompton School’ is an elaborate composite spanning four counties, which demonstrates how disparate locations can be knitted together to appear as one place.

The exterior of the school is Brasenose College, Radcliffe Square opposite the Radcliffe Camera in the city of Oxford, with the tower of St Mary the Virgin in the background.

Young Sherlock Holmes film location: School Quad, Eton, Berkshire
Young Sherlock Holmes film location: the quad of ‘Brompton School’: School Quad, Eton, Berkshire

Once through the gates, the school quad is that of Eton College, Eton, north of Windsor in Berkshire. The quad of the prestigious school also stood in for ‘Trinity College’ in Chariots Of Fire; as the ‘Palace of Westminster’ in The Madness Of King George; and as a church exterior in Shakespeare In Love.

But when Holmes and Watson look up to see Waxflatter (Nigel Stock) demonstrating his flying machine, the crenellated towers are those of Belvoir Castle, home of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, about seven miles west of Grantham in Leicestershire.

Belvoir also provided the castellated home of Cragwitch. No stranger to the screen, Belvoir (pronounced ‘beaver’) is also seen as ‘Castel Gandolfo’, the Pope's summer residence, in The Da Vinci Code; as well as appearing in Merchant-Ivory’s The Golden Bowl, and being seen as ‘Buckingham Palace’ in both The Young Victoria and King Ralph. The castle’s kitchens even featured in Jan de Bont’s splurgy 1999 remake of The Haunting.

Young Sherlock Holmes filming location: Penshurst Place, Kent
Young Sherlock Holmes location: the fencing match between Holmes and Rathe: Baron’s Hall, Penshurst Place, Kent

The school’s gym, where Holmes (Nicholas Rowe) fences with schoolmaster Rathe (Anthony Higgins), is the Baron’s Hall of Penshurst Place, a Tudor mansion in Kent (“Are you alright, Penshurst?” asks Rathe of one of the schoolboys).

The same Baron’s Hall went on to provide the backdrop for another, more famous, swordfight in Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride (“My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die”).

Penshurst is also featured in The Other Boleyn Girl and Anne Of The Thousand Days.

Young Sherlock Holmes film location: Shad Thames, London
Young Sherlock Holmes location: Victorian London: Shad Thames, London

The narrow walkways between the old riverside warehouses of Shad Thames, on the South Bank of the Thames in London SE1, now redeveloped as shops and restaurants, stand in for Victorian London, as they also did in The French Lieutenant’s Woman.