We finish this series on fictional London with the home of another of London’s most famous fictional spies – James Bond.
In Ian Fleming’s books about the adventures of 007, he has the spy living in a ground-floor flat in a “converted Regency house” in a “plane tree’d square” off the King’s Road.
While several possibilities have been identified over the years (including in Markham Square), it was Fleming’s former assistant to The Sunday Times, biographer and friend, John Pearson, who is credited with having identified this terrace in Wellington Square as the property Fleming probably had in mind (Pearson apparently had a friend from his college days who lived there at some point).
The five storey terrace, which dates from the early 1830s, was actually close by the address where Fleming lived – number 24 Cheyne Walk – when he commenced writing the first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in 1952.
The property was on the market not that long ago for a reported asking price of £6.35 million.
PICTURE: The terraces where James Bond is said to have lived in Wellington Square.
Of course, James Bond has a long-standing relationship with London and there’s a long list of locations that have featured in the many Bond films over the years. But today we’re looking at just one – the Thames-side HQ of spy agency MI6.
The actual London home of the organisation (also known as the Secret Intelligence Service), the not-so-secret building – which is also called the Vauxhall Cross building – is located on Albert Embankment in Vauxhall, sitting alongside Vauxhall Bridge.
It has made numerous appearances in the past few James Bond films – from its first appearance in Golden Eye to its being attacked in The World Is Not Enough, blown up in Skyfall and the featuring of its ruinous remains in the latest film, Spectre.
The subject of some criticism when it was unveiled (and much loved by others), the fortress-like building was designed by architect Terry Farrell. It was built in the early 1990s and officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994. It suffered – and survived – a real-life rocket attack in 2000.
Other locations to have featured in recent Bond films in London, meanwhile, include Somerset House (passed off as St Petersburg in Golden Eye), the National Gallery (Bond, played by Daniel Craig, first encounters the new Q, played by Ben Wishaw, in Room 34 in Skyfall), and the rooftops of Whitehall (also Skyfall). And that’s just for starters.
• Naval caricatures of the late 18th and early 19th century go on display in a new exhibition which opens at the National Maritime Museum today. Broadsides! Caricature and the Navy 1756-1815 features a small selection of the museum’s extensive collection of caricatures – one of the largest in the world, it features works by James Gillray, George M Woodward and Thomas Rowlandson. It explores the role the caricatures played in shaping public opinion during the period which included the American War of Independence and wars against revolutionary and Napoleonic France. The exhibition features 20 prints with visitors able to see others in the museum’s collection via the website www.rmg.co.uk/collections. Admission is free. Runs until 3rd February. For more, see www.rmg.co.uk.
• Celebrate the 50th anniversary of James Bond and the premiere of the latest film in the franchise, Skyfall, with a look at a rare collection of James Bond posters and other memorabilia as well as the latest Bond vehicle this weekend. The Hospital Club in Covent Garden is hosting the event, in conjunction with Blue Robin, which features about 50 vintage posters from movies such as 1973’s Live And Let Die and 1963’s From Russia With Love. There’s also the chance to have your photo taken beside the double-cab Land Rover Defender which features in the opening chase sequence of Skyfall. Also exhibited will be M’s chauffeur-driven Jaguar XJ long wheel base and the black Range Rover driven by Bill Tanner, M’s chief of staff. The free exhibition is open to the public from 11am to 7pm from tomorrow until Monday (please call reception on 020 7170 9100 before visiting). For more, see www.thehospitalclub.com.
• A motorbike captured from Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan by members of the 1st Battalion The Rifles has gone on display at the Imperial War Museum in London. The Honda motorbike forms part of the interactive display, War Story: Serving in Afghanistan, in which visitors can delve into the lives of service personnel taking part in Operation Herrick through personal artefacts, photographs and video. The bike was recovered by soldiers after it was left behind by two insurgents during an encounter on 4th May last year. It is the largest item to be donated through the War Story project and is the only item of enemy equipment acquired by the project to date. The motorbike will be displayed until 18th December. For more, see www.iwm.org.uk.
Now On: Peter Lely: A Lyrical Vision. This newly opened exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery is the first to look at the group of large scale narrative paintings produced by Sir Peter during the turmoil of the Civil War in the 1640s and 1650s. Renowned as the principal painter of King Charles II and the “outstanding artistic figure of Restoration England”, Sir Peter apparently never wished to be seen principally as a portraitist and following his arrival in England in the early 1640s, initially devoted himself to paintings inspired by classical mythology, the Bible and contemporary literature. The exhibition centres on The Courtauld’s own work, The Concert, and features an important group of little known paintings from private collections. Runs until 13th January. Admission charge applies. For more, see www.courtauld.ac.uk/gallery/index.shtml.