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Friday August 14th 2020

Withnail & I | 1987

Withnail and I film location: Sleddale Hall, near Penrith, Cumbria
Withnail and I film location: ‘Crow Cragg’: Sleddale Hall, near Penrith, Cumbria

Set in London’s Camden Town and in Penrith, Cumbria, Bruce Robinson’s Sixties-set comedy has acquired a vast cult following over the years.

In fact, most of the London scenes were filmed, not in Camden but in Notting Hill, including the squalid flat, which has since been demolished. Now another classic location succumbs to the same fate.

Withnail and I film location: Crescent House, Tavistock Crescent, Notting Hill, London
Withnail and I film location: The ‘Mother Black Cap, Camden’ – in happier days: Tavistock Crescent, Notting Hill, London

The film’s ‘Mother Black Cap’ pub (presumably a conflation of Camden’s Black Cap and Mother Red Cap – now the World’s End music bar), where Withnail (Richard E Grant) orders “Two large gins. Two pints of cider. Ice in the cider”, lived on as one of the Babushka chain.

It was briefly relaunched – as The Mother Black Cap – then became classy restaurant Crescent House, then The Tavistock. It had a radical makeover since finding fame as Camden’s woozy old Irish boozer, but never seemed to find success and, at the end of 2010, was finally demolished. It stood at 41 Tavistock Crescent at St Mark’s Grove, W11, facing the end of St Luke’s Road, in front of the Westway and Notting Hill’s famous Trellick Tower.

Withnail and I film location: Crescent House, Tavistock Crescent, Notting Hill, London
Withnail and I film location: The ‘Mother Black Cap, Camden’ – finally gone for good: Tavistock Crescent, Notting Hill, London | Photograph: Malcolm Davis

This is a popular spot for movie-makers. Nearby you’ll find locations for the Bill Murray comedy The Man Who Knew Too Little and the Beatles’ first feature film A Hard Day’s Night.

The wolf enclosure outside which the film ends is in Camden, though the wolves are long gone. It’s London Zoo, in Regent's Park by the Gloucester Gate entrance from the Outer Circle.

Withnail and I film location: Glebe Place, Chelsea, London SW3
Withnail and I film location: Uncle Monty’s London house: Glebe Place, Chelsea, London SW3

The grand London home of Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths) is West House, 35 Glebe Place, tucked away in a crook of the street off Bramerton Street, in Chelsea, SW3 .

‘Crow Cragg’, where the pair end up “on holiday by mistake”, is Sleddale Hall, a derelict cottage alongside Wet Sleddale Reservoir, just west from the A6, near Shap, about twelve miles south of Penrith, Cumbria (rail: Penrith). And, yes, that is Wet Sleddale and not ‘West Sleddale’. I have no idea if there’s a Dry Sleddale Reservoir.

Withnail and I film location: Sleddale Hall, near Penrith, Cumbria
Withnail and I film location: ‘Crow Cragg’: Sleddale Hall in 2000, empty and shuttered

There’s a limited bus service from Penrith to Shap. About a mile south of Shap, a narrow road runs west to Wet Sleddale, and from that, about two miles of footpath lead to Sleddale Hall. Although the cottage overlooks Wet Sleddale Reservoir, that’s not the spectacular body of water seen in the movie.

Withnail and I film location: The Crown, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire
Withnail and I film location: The ‘King Henry’ pub: The Crown, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire

There seem to be plenty of Withnail fans who head to Penrith to find the ‘King Henry’ pub and the ‘Penrith Tea Rooms’ without realising that these scenes were filmed in Buckinghamshire.

The little town square is Market Square, Stony Stratford, not far from Milton Keynes (rail: Wolverton). Like a celeb growing a beard to pass unnoticed, the Square has sprouted a grove of trees which render the familiar images from the film all-but invisible.

As you'll see, the 'King Henry' pub is actually The Crown, 9 Market Place. The exterior is instantly recognisable though the interior seems to have had quite a makeover. It remains a relaxing traditional local pub.

Withnail and I film location: Cox and Robinson, Market Place, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire
Withnail and I film location: The ‘Penrith Tea Room ’: Cox and Robinson, Market Place, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire

The really sad news is that there is no tea room – neither 'Penrith' nor 'Stony Stratford' – so you’ll not be able to order the finest wines known to humanity.

Withnail and I film location: Cox and Robinson, Market Place, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire
Withnail and I film location: The ‘Penrith Tea Room ’: Cox and Robinson, Market Place, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire

The premises is the town's oldest shop, which now houses pharmacist Cox and Robinson at 1 Market Place, on the opposite corner to the Crown.