Scandal, 1989



visit the film locations


Flights: Heathrow Airport; Gatwick Airport

Visit: the London Film Museum, County Hall
Queens Walk, South Bank, London SE1 7PB
(tel: 0207.202.7040)


Visit: Wiltshire

Wiltshire Tourist Guide

Visit: Wilton House, Wilton, two and a half miles west of Salisbury on the A30, Wiltshire (rail: Salisbury, from London Waterloo). The house and grounds are open in summer (admission charge, tel: 01722. 746720)

Visit: Longleat House, Warminster, off the A36 between Bath and Salisbury (rail: Warminster, between Cardiff and Portsmouth – about five miles)


Cliveden, the real scene of the notorious 60s parties, isn’t used in the film, but can be seen in the Beatles’ film Help!, scabrous satire The Ruling Class and Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes

Scandal film location: Bathurst Mews, Bayswater, London W2

Scandal location: Stephen Ward’s ‘Marylebone’ flat: Bathurst Mews, Bayswater, London W2

This account of the consequences of the affair between Cabinet Minister John Profumo and Christine Keeler, which brought down the Conservative government in the Sixties, is upstaged by Ian McKellen’s bizarre topknot, the misjudged result of shaving his hairline for the role of Profumo rather than resorting to a wig, which makes him look distractingly like a Samurai warrior.

Society osteopath Stephen Ward, who enjoyed setting up fun get-togethers for the upper crust, committed suicide after becoming the fall guy for the whole debacle., He lived in Marylebone, at 17 Wimpole Mews, which had become too modernised for a Sixties-set film. Ward’s (John Hurt) flat in the movie is 42 Bathurst Mews, a cobbled mews in Bayswater, W2, which was previously seen in 1970 Bette Davis drama Connecting Rooms.

The country estate, where a monied elite indulged in poolside frolics, was, notoriously, Cliveden, home of the Astor family, two miles north of Taplow on the Hedsor Road near Maidenhead, Buckinghamshire.

Although Cliveden had previously been seen in movies, including the Beatles’ second feature film Help! (where it stood in for ‘Buckingham Palace’), it was now a hotel. Its connection with the Keeler-Profumo affair was not one the owners wanted to emphasise, and permission to film was refused.

Cliveden House is now a National Trust property, though the house is still a luxury hotel, and was recently seen in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes.

The country estate in the film is a mix of two locations. The interior is the much-used Wilton House, in the town of Wilton, two and a half miles west of Salisbury on the A30, Wiltshire. A veteran of many movies, including Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon; Ken Russell’s The Music Lovers; The Madness of King George; two Jane Austen adaptations – the 2005 film of Pride And Prejudice and Ang Lee’s Sense And Sensibility; and The Young Victoria,

The Marquis of Bath’s famous pile, Longleat House in Warminster, also in Wiltshire, supplied the exterior and the extensive grounds.

Both Wilton House and Longleat previously featured in Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 masterpiece Barry Lyndon.

The West End nightclub in which Christine Keeler (Joanne Whalley) and Mandy Rice Davies (Bridget Fonda) sample the high life is the Café de Paris, Coventry Street, in London’s West End between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.

Its scarlet and gilt interior is regularly used to signify decadence in loads of films, including X-Men: First Class, Absolute Beginners, The Krays, Dorian Gray, An Education and King Ralph.

For the trial scenes, the ‘Old Bailey’ is also a conflation of two locations. The courtroom itself is in Shire Hall, High Pavement, Nottingham.

The exterior is that of County Hall, on the South Bank in London. Opened in 1922 as the headquarters of London County Council, and subsequently home to the GLC, County Hall now houses the Sea Life London Aquarium, hotels, restaurants and, of course, the London Film Museum.


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