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Thursday October 18th 2018

Batman | 1989

Batman filming location: Knebworth House, Knebworth, Hertfordshire
Batman location: the Gothic exterior of ‘Wayne Manor‘: Knebworth House, Knebworth, Hertfordshire

Tim Burton’s ‘Gotham City’, a nightmare fantasy of New York, was actually built in England.

The late Anton Furst’s set covered most of the 18 soundstages at Pinewood Studio.

‘Wayne Manor’, though, is real, and is a conflation of two buildings. The exterior is Knebworth House, a Gothicised Tudor manor house on the A1, 28 miles north of London.

It also provided gloomy Gothic mansions for, among others, the Ingrid Bergman 1956 Oscar-winner Anastasia (where it was passed off as the palace of the Dowager Empress of Denmark), 2010 Oscar-winner The King's Speech with Colin Firth, biopic Wilde with Stephen Fry as the great writer, Ken Russell's kitschy Lair of the White Worm (with a pre-stardom Hugh Grant), Gene Wilder's Haunted Honeymoon and the deliriously daft schlocker Horror Hospital, starring Alfred himself, Michael Gough.

Batman filming location: Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Batman location: ‘Wayne Manor’ interior: Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire

The interiors are Hatfield House, Hatfield, a Jacobean pile seen in the turgid Greystoke, the Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (where it became the interior of Scotland's Floors Castle), the film of Virginia Woolf's gender-shifting fantasia, Orlando, Shekhar Kapur's epic Elizabeth: The Golden Age, 1970 historical epic Cromwell and of course as the mansion of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, among many others.

Batman filming location: Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Batman location: ‘Wayne Manor’s arsenal': Marble Hall, Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire | Photograph: Wikimedia / Matt Brown

The gaming room, where Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) asks “Who’s Bruce Wayne?”, was filmed in the house’s Long Gallery; Wayne’s arsenal, with its two-way mirror, was shot in the Marble Hall, and the book-lined study, where Alfred (Michael Gough) advises Bruce Wayne to get married, is the Library. Tim Burton returned to Hatfield to film scenes for Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. The Long Gallery has since been seen as site of the 'German High Command' gala infiltrated by Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) in Patty Jenkins's Wonder Woman.

Batman filming location: Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Batman location: ‘Wayne Manor’s study': the Library, Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire | Photograph: Wikimedia / Matt Brown

The office of the 'Gotham Globe' newspaper is the Ladies' Smoking Room of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, NW1. Designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and opened in 1873 as the Midland Grand Hotel to serve St Pancras Station, this was at the time one of the most well-appointed hotels in the capital.

Batman filming location: Ladies' Smoking Room, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, London NW1
Batman location: The office of the 'Gotham Globe' newspaper: Ladies' Smoking Room, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, London NW1 | Photograph: VIEW Pictures Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Unfortunately, times change. Despite such innovative features as lifts and revolving doors, the guest rooms were without running water or private bathrooms. The hotel closed its doors in 1935 and, unbelievably, came close to demolition but for a tireless campaign led by then-Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman.

A major renovation was needed to bring it up to present day standards, but the hotel finally reopened again in 2011, in keeping with the St Pancras International rail terminal. The Ladies' Smoking Room – the first place in Europe where women could smoke publicly – has been beautifully restored and can now be hired for weddings.

The St Pancras hotel’s Gothic stairwell went on to become 'Arkham Asylum' in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins.

The ‘Axis Chemical Works’, where Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) plunges into the chemical sludge, was filmed at a disused power station in Acton Lane, West London – where scenes for Ridley Scott's Alien and most of James Cameron’s sequel Aliens were filmed. The exploding exterior was Little Barford Power Station, a couple of miles south of St Neots in Cambridgeshire.