Richard III, 1995
- Ian McKellen
- Nigel Hawthorne
- Jim Broadbent
- Maggie Smith
- Robert Downey Jr
- Annette Bening
- Kristin Scott Thomas
- John Wood
- Adrian Dunbar
visit the film locations
Visit: Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 (tel: 020.7887.8752)
Visit: the London Film Museum, 1 Belvedere Road, London SE17 (tel: 020.7202.7040)
Visit: Strawberry Hill House, 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham (tel: 020.8744.1241) (tube: Richmond, District Line; rail: Strawberry Hill, from London Waterloo)
Visit: Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, SE9 (tel: 020.8294.2548) (rail: Eltham and Mottingham)
Visit: Royal Pavilion, Brighton (tel: 03000.290.900)
Visit: De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea (tel: 01424.229.111)
Richard III location: the royal seaside palace: Brighton Pavilion, Brighton, West Sussex
Based on Richard Eyre’s lauded National Theatre production, Richard Loncraine’s cinematic realisation of William Shakespeare’s blackly comic history play makes boldly imaginative use of existing London and Home Counties locations to conjure up an alternative 1930s England.
The locations move from a florid Victorian Gothic style for the old order of King Edward IV (John Wood), to a brutalist Thirties look as the neo-fascist dictatorship of Richard of Gloucester (Ian McKellen) takes power.
Richard III location: the exterior of the royal palace: St Pancras Station, London
The royal family’s London palace is the extravagantly mock-Gothic exterior of St Pancras International, the old St Pancras Station, now home of the Eurostar terminal. Cheekily, the film relocates the station to the banks of the Thames, but you’ll still find it reigning over Euston Road, NW1.
Richard III location: the interior of the royal palace: St Cuthbert’s Church, Earl’s Court, London
The palace interior knits together two disparate architectural gems. The opening party is held in St Cuthbert with St Matthias, 50 Philbeach Gardens, Earl’s Court, SW5. The red brick church, tucked away from the roar of Warwick Road traffic in West London, houses a striking late Victorian/Edwardian Arts & Crafts interior.
The other palace interiors were found in Strawberry Hill House, 268 Waldegrave Road, Twickenham. The house, built for Horace Walpole, whose novel The Castle Of Otranto is regarded as the first Gothic novel, reflects the 18th century writer’s extravagant tastes.
Calling the castle his ‘plaything’, Walpole based his highly theatrical designs on prints of Gothic cathedrals and abbeys, and recreating them in wood, plaster or even papier maché instead of carved stone. The unmissable house has recently been painstakingly restored. See it for yourself on a self-guided tour.
Richard III location: the Queen’s lodgings: the Undercroft, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London
Ingeniously, the Undercroft, a vaulted pedestrian walkway beneath the chapel of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2, was glazed in to provide the Queen’s lodgings, where Queen Elizabeth (Annette Bening) and Lord Rivers (Robert Downey Jr) enjoy breakfast. It its more usual open air state, it was used for the duel in Tony Richardson’s Oscar-winning 1963 film of Tom Jones, and it’s also where Algy (Rupert Everett) accuses Jack (Colin Firth) of being a secret Bunburyist in Oliver Parker’s adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest.
The unique mock-Oriental, Regency fantasy which must be seen to be believed, was built between 1787 and 1823 for the Prince Regent (later King George IV), son of George III, whose story is famously portrayed in The Madness Of King George.
For such a visual feast, the Pavilion is not seen too often on screen – maybe it’s a little too overwhelming – though it does feature in Neil Jordan’s 1999 adaptation of The End Of The Affair, and in the Hollywood musical On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, with Barbra Streisand.
The seafront terrace is about 30 miles east, towards Hastings. It’s the Grade 1-listed 1930s De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, now restored and used as an arts centre.
Richard III location: Richard is offered the crown: The Royal Horticultural Hall, Westminster, London SW1
The crown of England is offered to a scheming Richard at a fascist-style rally, held in the soaring Royal Horticultural Hall, Greycoat Street at Elverton Street, Westminster, SW1. The hall’s massive concrete arches can also be seen in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Philip Noyce’s 1997 film of The Saint, with Val Kilmer.
it’s back to West London, and Earl’s Court again, to see the backstage preparations for Richard’s cynically stage-managed show, which are are the bowels of Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre, Warwick Road, SW5.
Another basement area, this time of the old Pearl Assurance Building in Holborn, was used for the military mortuary where Richard audaciously woos Lady Anne (Kristin Scott Thomas) over the body of her murdered husband. Now a luxury hotel, the Renaissance Chancery Court London, 252 High Holborn, is another location seen in The Saint, as well as The Bourne Ultimatum.
Richard III location: Buckingham falls out of favour with the King: Shell Mex Building, Embankment, London
The balcony beneath a giant clockface, where the doomed Buckingham (Jim Broadbent) realises he’s fallen out of favour with the King, can be seen way up on the tower of Shell Mex House, on the Victoria Embankment, just to the west of Waterloo Bridge.
Richard III location: King Richard’s austere bunker: Senate House, University of London, Malet Street
With regime change underway, the film’s settings become increasingly austere, typified by the cold but stylish bunker of the newly-crowned King, which is Senate House, part of the University of London, Malet Street, in Bloomsbury behind the British Museum.
Richard III location: the King’s private newsreel cinema: Eltham Palace, Eltham, London
The production really mines the capital’s art deco heritage with King’s private newsreel cinema, which is Eltham Palace, Court Yard, Eltham, SE9. Originally the boyhood home of a real English king, Henry VIII, the one-time medieval manor house was rescued and restored in the Thirties by textile magnates, the Courtauld family, who built their glamorous Art Deco London showpiece next to the remains of the royal palace. The sleek interior was passed off as the salon of a luxury liner in the 2008 film of Brideshead Revisited.
Richard’s military HQ was Steam Town, a rail museum at Carnforth in Lancashire, which has since closed down. Carnforth itself is famous as the railway station used in David Lean’s 1945 British classic Brief Encounter.
Two of London’s famous ex-power stations are also drafted in to provide monumental backdrops.
Richard III location: the Stalinist-syle ‘Tower of London’: Tate Modern, Bankside, London
Bankside Power Station is used as the massively intimidating exterior of a Stalinist-style ‘Tower of London’. The vast, red brick structure has now, of course, been granted a new lease of life as Tate Modern, Bankside.
The prison interior is the old County Hall Building, also on the South bank alongside Westminster Bridge, the exterior of which also supplied the entrance to the ‘Lord Protector’s headquarters. County Hall now houses the Sealife London Aquarium and – importantly – the London Film Museum.
Richard III location: the climactic ‘Battle of Bosworth’: Battersea Power Station, Battersea, London
Photograph: iStockphoto / Val Mansfield
The Tate’s Turbine Hall stood in for the interior of the ‘Ark of the Arts’in Alfonso Cuarón’s Children Of Men and, by coincidence, the Ark’s exterior was Battersea Power Station. It’s the still-deserted hulk of Battersea which becomes the site of the climactic ‘Battle of Bosworth’ in Richard III.
While many and varied schemes for its reuse come and go (latest is as a proposed stadium for Chelsea Football Club), the iconic building regularly serves as a movie location – notably used for the spectacular explosion in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and for the industrial wastelands of Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus.