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Tuesday April 16th 2024

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang | 1968

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film location: Cobstone Windmill, Turville, Buckinghamshire
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film location: the home of inventor Caractacus Potts: Cobstone Windmill, Turville, Buckinghamshire

When Ian Fleming wasn’t dreaming up missions for 007, he kicked back and relaxed with this children’s story about the eccentric inventor who transforms a clapped-out racing car into a magical toy. In-joke spotters will have twigged that George Coggins, the original owner of of the dilapidated racer, is James Bond’s Q, the late Desmond Llewellyn.

The windmill home of Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke) is Cobstone Windmill, at Cadmore End on the B482 about four miles west of High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire.

Cobstone Mill was built around 1816, overlooking the village of Turville (it’s often called Turville Windmill).

Until 1873 it remained a working mill but, after being damaged by fire, it lay derelict. It was restored cosmetically for the film, and a few years later restored completely (even getting a swimming pool) as a home for actress Hayley Mills and husband, director Roy Boulting. They no longer live there, but it’s still a private home.

The house of Truly Scrumptious (Sally Anne Howes) is Heatherden Hall, at the heart of the Pinewood Studios lot at Iver Heath, also in Buckinghamshire. Being so convenient, the mansion is a familiar screen presence in Pinewood based films – which include James Bond and Carry On... productions.

It seems the car has pretty miraculous powers already. When Potts drives Truly and the kids down to the beach from Cadmore End, they end up by the sea at Cape Taillat, near Saint-Tropez in the South of France.

The airship of Baron Bomburst (Gert Frobe) hovers over the hillside near the village of Turville, just southwest of Cadmore End. Turville itself is a regular location, seen as ‘Bramley End’ in the excellent wartime thriller Went The Day Well? and more recently as the village in which Peter Sarsgaard pulls a scam in 2009’s Oscar nominated An Education.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film location: Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film location: the Vulgarian town square: Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany | Photograph: Shutterstock / Sergey_S

Followed by the magical car, the balloon flies off to the child-hating kingdom of ‘Vulgaria’. The town square, where creepy Childcatcher (Robert Helpmann) and the cavalry (with horses from the famous stud farm near Munich) search for the kiddies, is Rothenburg ob der Tauber, in Bavaria.

Rothenburg was economically devastated by the Thirty Years War and, being hidden away from major commercial routes, has never been modernised. In the long run, this has turned out to be a boon and the town is now something of a tourist trap. A perfectly preserved 17th century wonder, it’s about 45 miles west of Nuremberg toward Stuttgart, in Bavaria. There’s the briefest glimpse of Rothenburg as the house of Gregorovitch in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part I.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film location: Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film location: Baron Bomburst’s Vulgarian castle: Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany | Photograph: Wikimedia / Softeis

Baron Bomburst’s Vulgarian castle, subliminally familiar as the model for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle, is Ludwig II’s marvelously kitsch fantasy of Schloss Neuschwanstein, in Germany, about 150 miles to the south of Rothenburg.

Built between 1870 and Ludwig’s mysterious death in 1886, not by an architect but by a theatrical set designer (one C Jank, who was responsible for designing the original production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhauser) high above the Schwansee and the Alpsee. There are guided tours (there’s a bus service from Schwangau, about a mile away), but it’s a popular destination and in summer can get mighty packed. Entrance tickets can only be bought at the Ticketcenter Hohenschwangau in the village of Hohenschwangau, below the castle. You can reach the village by train from Munich.