Hot Fuzz | 2007
- DIRECTOR |
- Edgar Wright
Photograph: Crown at Wells, Somerset
Following Shaun of the Dead, the team of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost hit gold again, transplanting the high energy police buddy movie to the West Country of England. And what other film can boast unrecognisable cameos from Oscar-winning Cate Blanchett and Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson? Or a credit line which thanks both Somerfield Supermarkets and Quentin Tarantino?
The setting is the fictitious town of ‘Sandford’ – the all-purpose place name used in UK police training exercises.
In fact, the opening training scenes were filmed in the London Metropolitan Police's real training complex, Hendon Police Training College, Peel Centre, Aerodrome Road, NW4.
'Sandford' itself is England's smallest city, Wells in Somerset, at the foot of the Mendip Hills in the West of England, about four miles from Glastonbury.
The centre of town, around which much of the action is set, is the city's Market Square. To keep the small-town feel, the famous Wells Cathedral had to be removed from the film digitally. If you’re missing the Cathedral, you can glimpse its interior in Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
The local pub where the cops meet after work, and outside which Angel nicks a seriously plastered Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) on his first night in ‘Sandford’, is The Crown at Wells, on the south side of Market Square, a 15th century Grade II listed coaching inn. It was from a window at the Crown that Quaker leader William Penn (founder of Pennsylvania) once preached.
Other Wells locations include the newsagent ('Only one schoolchild at a time'), which is City News, 2a High Street.
'St Vincent's’, the church outside which journalist Tim Messenger is splatted, in an homage to The Omen, is not the famous cathedral, but St Cuthbert's Church – though the shot of the sinister figure on the spiral stair – is Wells Cathedral.
Angel meets the local worthies of the NWA (Neighbourhood Watch Association) in the Bishop's Palace, Wells, and later at the nighttime meeting outside the Palace. It’s in the grounds of the Palace, incidentally, that you can see the very wells which gave the city its name.
The supermarket owned by devious Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton) is Somerfield, High Street, which is where director Edgar Wright once worked (and he puts in a glimpse-and-miss-him cameo as a shelf stacker here).
The exterior of the theatre at which Angel and Danny watch the gloriously awful production of Romeo and Juliet is The Little Theatre, Portway at Chamberlain Street, Wells. Like quite a few of the interiors, the Baz Luhrmann-style extravaganza was staged closer to London, at The Barn Theatre, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.
The final chase, which begins at Bishop's Palace, continues through the arches of Waverley Abbey, two miles southeast of Farnham in Surrey, and on to Copped Hall, the remaining shell of a Georgian mansion destroyed by fire, near Epping in Essex. Copped Hall is a private home and not open to visitors, though there are occasionally guided tours.
And the Wells establishments? It's not all quite as it seems. The suspiciously huge interior of the Somerfield supermarket is the old (currently empty) Safeway store on Staines Road in Hounslow, Greater London.
The garden centre, at which a victim is bloodily dispatched with a pair of shears, is in London itself. It's Finchley Nurseries Garden Centre, Burton Hole Lane, Mill Hill. Incidentally, this is just behind the location of ‘Arkham Asylum’ in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins.
The interior of the Crown, used for the spectacular shoot-em-up, is The Royal Standard of England, Forty Green Road, Forty Green, near Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire – a wonderfully atmospheric timbered bar, which claims to be the oldest free-house in England. More recently, the Royal Standard became the ‘Cambridge’ local of a young Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) in The Theory Of Everything.
And the 'Swan Hotel' lobby, where Angel encounters (Joyce Cooper) Billie Whitelaw, and its dining room, where he dines alone after his accusation of murder falls flat, was the interior of the Edgwarebury Hotel, now acquired by the Laura Ashley company as the The Manor Hotel, Edgwarebury Lane, off Barnett Lane, Elstree. It's a familiar location, seen in films as diverse as School For Scoundrels, The Devil Rides Out and – very briefly – A Clockwork Orange.