Tom Jones | 1963
Tony Richardson pulled out all the cinematic stops for this boisterous adaptation of the Henry Fielding novel, made on location mainly in the West Country of England. And it worked, as he took home both Best Director and Best Film Oscars.
The estate of Squire Allworthy (George Devine), where foundling Tom Jones (Albert Finney) is brought up, is Cranborne Manor, on the B3078, about 18 miles north of Bournemouth, Dorset. The Manor is the Dorset home of Viscount Cranborne, and the 17th Century gardens are open once a week in spring and summer, while the Cranborne Manor Garden Centre, which specialises in traditional plants such as roses and clematis, is open every day.
The house of Squire Western (Hugh Griffith) and his daughter Sophie (Susannah York) is the manor house of Cerne Abbas at the northern end of Abbey Street, a few miles north of Dorchester. It’s just below the famously priapic Cerne Abbas Giant, carved into the hillside chalk.
Tom and the lusty Mrs Waters (Joyce Redman) do for chicken drumsticks what The Thomas Crown Affair did for chess pieces, and Ghost for clay pots, in the inn at ‘Upton’, which in reality is the stables of Nettlecombe Court, near Williton on the A39, eight miles east of Minehead, north Somerset. in 1963 this was a girls’ boarding school, it’s now HQ of the Field Studies Council.
Nettlecombe’s courtyard is also used as ‘Newgate Jail’, where Tom is held before being taken off to be hanged at ‘Tyburn’ at the end.
Tom’s arrival in a squalid but lively London was filmed among the old warehouses along Shad Thames, in Southwark – a photogenic area subsequently seen in The French Lieutenant’s Woman and, after gentrification, Bridget Jones’s Diary.
Also in Somerset, about 12 miles to the east, elegant Castle Street, in Bridgwater, was used for the more elegant streets of ‘London’, where Tom lodges. The houses were built for merchants, close to the river, in the 1720s and 1730s, on the side of the old Bridgwater Castle. Tom’s lodgings were 16 Castle Street.
The good Lady’s palatial home has now, alas, gone. It was Londonderry House, which stood on Park Lane until being demolished in 1962 to make way for the Park Lane Hilton.
Cynical servant Partridge (Jack MacGowran) suggests that the penniless Tom get out of his entanglement with Lady Bellaston by proposing to her, as they walk along the west side of New Square, Lincoln’s Inn, WC2, off Holborn.
Just to the north, beneath Lincoln’s Inn Chapel, Old Square, is the elaborately vaulted Undercroft, where Tom duels with Fitzpatrick and, for his pains, ends up arrested for armed robbery.
The undercroft was ingeniously glazed and furnished to provide the queen’s lodgings in Richard Loncraine’s1995 film of Richard III, and is also featured in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and Mr Holmes, with Ian McKellen.