Kingsman: The Secret Service | 2014
When old school, super-secret, non-governmental agency Kingsman loses a man in action, gentleman agent Harry Hart, aka Galahad (Colin Firth), breaks with a tradition of snobbery and chooses to train working class lad Gary Unwin, aka Eggsy (Taron Egerton), as a potential replacement.
After Kick-Ass, Matthew Vaughn brings another quirky graphic novel to the screen with this enjoyably silly and surprisingly violent homage to classic Bond movies (complete with pastiche John Barry score), filmed mainly around London and the southeast of England.
The 70s brutalist council estate, where Eggsy lives with his long-suffering mum and his abusive stepdad is the Alexandra Road Estate (correctly, the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate) stretching along the curve of railtracks at Rowley Way, London NW8, west of South Hampstead rail station. You may remember the same estate as home to Juliette Binoche in Anthony Minghella’s 2006 drama Breaking And Entering.
Like the characters in Shaun Of The Dead, Eggsy lives in north London but chooses to drink miles away in South London (are there so few pubs in the capital?).
The ‘local’ boozer, where Eggsy has a run-in with a bunch of local thugs, is The Black Prince, 6 Black Prince Road, Kennington, London SE11. It’s actually just down the road from The Jolly Gardeners, which became ‘The Drowning Trout’ in Guy Ritchie’s Matthew Vaughn-produced Snatch.
After Eggsy nicks the lads’ car, the resulting high-speed backwards car chase with the police ends up in a shunt on Corbridge Crescent, alongside the canal in Cambridge Heath, E2. This lively spot is the site of the safe house in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, also with Colin Firth, the hideout of mastermind Shaw in Fast And Furious 6, and was also seen in Gangster No.1 and Johnny Depp misfire, Mortdecai.
Eggsy is arrested and, inexplicably, taken to Holborn Police Station, Richbell Place at Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1. Remembering the magic phrase “Oxfords not Brogues” from many years ago, he finds himself suddenly released and taken under the wing of Harry Hart.
The London base of the Kingsman organisation is entered via the traditional innocuous shopfront, in this case a classy tailors on the West End’s famous Savile Row. Renamed ‘Kingsman’ for the film, it’s Huntsman, 11 Savile Row, London W1, running alongside Regent Street.
For all sorts of practical reasons, the shop interior was recreated in the studio at Leavesden in Hertfordshire, but the shop now looks a little more like the film.
As part of Eggsy’s transformation into a gentleman, as defined by Kingsman, Harry recommends he buy a hat from Lock & Co, 6 St James’s Street, SW1, another traditional outfitters. Sinister billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) also patronises the store – getting himself a top hat for Ascot. This is no coincidence. Valentine is the megalomaniac villain, planning an apocalyptic culling of the human race via giveaway mind-controlling SIM cards.
An underground shuttle speeds Harry and Eggsy from beneath the Kingsman shop to the organisation’s country house training facility, where Eggsy is to compete for the coveted position against a group of upper-class toffs. The grand house is Wrotham Park, on Barnet Road north of Barnet itself, in Hertfordshire.
The private house isn’t open to the public but it is available to hire as a conference/meeting space, and has been a frequent filming location, notably seen in Guy Ritchie's 2019 The Gentlemen, Ken Russell’s 1986 fantasy Gothic, Kenneth Branagh’s 1992 drama Peter’s Friends, Robert Altman’s 2001 murder mystery Gosford Park, and briefly in King Ralph.
Suspecting Professor Arnold (Mark Hamill) is involved with Valentine’s activities, Harry confronts him at Imperial College, Prince Consort Road, South Kensington SW7, behind the Royal Albert Hall. Devotees of British spy movies will no doubt spot the nod to a Sixties classic, recognising its grandiose, statue-flanked entrance as the place that Harry Palmer (Michael Caine) confronted ‘Bluebird’ in 1965’s The Ipcress File.
The railway tunnel, in which the candidates are tied to the railtrack and pumped for information about Kingsman, is the Sharpthorne Tunnel on the the Bluebell Railway – a five mile stretch of track between Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park, northeast of Haywards Heath in East Sussex. The railway also appears in biopics Chaplin and The Theory Of Everything.
Eggsy and his new chum Roxy (Sophie Cookson) pass with flying colours of course, but it’s goodbye to annoying posh boy Charlie (Edward Holcroft).
Ultimately it’s Roxy who becomes the new agent. At Harry Hart’s home, decorated with newspaper headlines, he castigates Eggsy for flunking the final test (shooting the doggy). Hart’s end-of-mews house is 11 Stanhope Mews South, SW7, off Gloucester Road, south of Gloucester Road tube station.
Hart continues his pursuit of Valentine and, after a delicious meal of McDonalds’ burgers and fine wines with him, picks up on a clue which sends him scooting across the pond to investigate an extremely unpleasant church in ‘Kentucky’.
The ‘South Glade Church’ (clearly twinned with the obnoxious Westboro Baptist Church), in which Valentine’s ploy triggers Harry Hart into carrying out a bloody massacre to rival anything Quentin Tarantino has come up with, is the Garrison Church of St Barbara, Deepcut Bridge Road, Deepcut, in Surrey, a couple of miles east of Farnborough.
It, of course, remains to Roxy and Eggsy to thwart Valentine’s plan in one of those vast, underground lair sets, without which no Bond film (or Bond homage) would be complete.