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Saturday May 25th 2024

Maurice | 1987

Maurice location: The Black Friar, Queen Victoria Street, London EC4
Maurice location: Lord Risley gets into trouble: The Black Friar, Queen Victoria Street, London EC4

Flushed with the success of A Room With a View, the Merchant-Ivory team turned another EM Forster book, the posthumously published gay novel Maurice, into a lush Mills and Boon romancer.

The Cambridge scenes were actually filmed at Forster’s old University. Exterior shots are of Trinity College, Cambridge, at the Quad and under the Wren Library. The Gothic William IV Porter’s Lodge can be seen at King’s College, where the Latin grace was also filmed, in the Dining Hall.

The punt trip is on the River Cam at Clare Bridge, and the romantic scene between Maurice Hall (James Wilby) and Clive Durham (Hugh Grant) in the field is near Ely in Cambridgeshire.

Clive’s country house, where Maurice attracts the attention of groundsman Alec Scudder (Rupert Graves), is Wilbury Park, Newton Toney, then owned by the late actress Maria St Just (a good friend of playwright Tenessee Williams, she also appears in the film), on the A338 halfway between Andover and Salisbury, Wiltshire. The estate has since been sold, but remains a private home.

The boathouse in the grounds where they meet up is, however, in the grounds of Crichel House in Dorset, a Grade I listed, Classical Revival country house near the village of Moor Crichel. Like Wilbury, it's a private home, recently sold to an American billionaire.

In London, Maurice bumps into his old schoolmaster (Simon Callow) by the Assyrian statues in the British Museum, Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, WC1.

The marvellous art-nouveau drinking den, where Maurice and Clive’s aristocratic pal Lord Risley runs into problems when he tries to indulge his taste for the military, is The Black Friar, 174 Queen Victoria Street, EC4, just across the road from Blackfriars railway station.

The Black Friar is a real gem. Sitting on a small triangular plot at the northern end of Blackfriars Bridge, it's a Victorian pub, built on the site of the Dominican Priory which gave its name to the area. The interior is a delirious fantasy of coloured marble, with copper bas-reliefs of industrious monks, admonishing the drinkers with stern little homilies: "Finery is foolery", "Haste is slow". It can get a bit crowded with the after-office crowd: best to visit on a quiet afternoon, or check out its unique architecture. The bar is also featured in Michael Winner's 1978 British remake of Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, with Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe.

Clive’s London home is the Linley Sambourne House, 18 Stafford Terrace, just off High Street Kensington, W8 (which previously featured as Daniel Day-Lewis’s home in A Room With a View).

The family meal, before Clive sets off for the Continent, is in the extravagantly gilt Grill Room of the Hotel Café Royal, 68 Regent Street, W1. Opened in 1865, Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw dined here. It’s where Jack Hawkins assembles his crew in the 1960 caper The League of Gentlemen, and where Rupert Graves celebrates his new post in Louis Malle’s 1992 melodrama Damage. The old Café Royal closed down in 2008 and has been converted into the Hotel Café Royal, where the Grill Room lives on as the Oscar Wilde Bar.

Clive’s European travels take him to the Greek theatre at Segesta, near Castellammare in northwest Sicily. Sited on a hilltop, Monte Barbaro, the wonderful views from the semicircular theatre rendered stage scenery unnecessary, as you can see for yourself during the summer months, when the theatre is used as a venue for plays, concerts and other events.

Maurice location: historic Gloucester Docks, Gloucester
Maurice location: Maurice catches up with Scudder: historic Gloucester Docks, Gloucester

While Clive settles for conventional married life, there’s a happy, if unlikely, ending for Maurice. The docks, where he just manages to reach Scudder before he emigrates, are the historic Gloucester Docks, Gloucester on the Severn.