In this first article in a new series looking at the world of James Bond, we visit England and Scotland...

The World Of James Bond - England & Scotland
10th June 2004

Although the films have gone too far in hopping from one exotic location to another with tenuous logic at the most, the books and early films used locations much more sparingly. In this first article in a new series looking at the world of James Bond, we visit England and Scotland.

One of the great strengths of any James Bond story is Ian Flemingís ability to vividly paint a mental picture of a scene. Luckily for us Bond is usually sent to more interesting places overseas, with descriptions that allow us to picture ourselves right in the middle of the action. Bondís assignment only remains in England in two stories; the first is Moonraker, the second is the short story The Property of a Lady, although he can also be found staying at the Ritz when working undercover as a diamond smuggler in Diamonds Are Forever, and again after returning to England under the influence of a KGB brainwashing. In fact, under the remit of his department, he is not supposed to operate in the UK at all. However, we do see a few glimpses of his day-to-day life in and around London when between assignments, and spend time with Bond at a health clinic in Thunderball, when he is sent by M to "Shrublands" for two weeks detox.

While not on assignment, and not under some medical treatment, we can find Bond in London while off duty. At the beginning of Moonraker, Bond is invited by M to "Blades", his private club. Bond is in his element when asked by his chief, in a personal capacity, to help sort out a problem with one of the other members. Hugo Drax is a public hero with the British public due to his private financing of the "Moonraker" rocket project. However, he is winning too much and too often at bridge, and is suspected as a cheat. Bond spends some time watching Draxís game, quickly spotting how he is winning. In order to avoid miring the name of the club in the ensuing scandal that would surely result, Bond teaches a lesson to the cheating multimillionaire by serving him with a dose of his own medicine.

The next morning it transpires that - quite coincidentally - there was an overnight incident at the Moonraker site and Bond is sent to investigate. The site is located three miles north of Dover in Kent, an area known well by Fleming as the location of his weekend retreat. During the course of the investigation Bond returns to London and after eating at his (unidentified) favourite restaurant, follows Drax from Blades. From Park Street (in reality Park Place), Bond follows Draxís Mercedes in his Bentley, along St Jamesís Street, The Mall, Buckingham Palace Gate (should be Buckingham Gate) and Lower Grosvenor Place to Draxís London residence in Ebury Street. In fact Fleming had lived at 22B Ebury Street for a few years from 1934 after buying out a five-year lease on the small flat from the leader of the British Union of Fascists, Sir Oswald Mosley. The chase then continues across Chelsea Bridge to south of the river and Clapham Common, the South Circular and finally the A20 to Dover, the road on which Bond loses his beloved Bentley.  
Above: Ebury Street in London, as it stands today.


Above: Eaton College, from where James Bond was expelled.
  We learn from his (premature as it turns out) obituary in You Only Live Twice that after losing his parents in a climbing accident, James Bond had gone to live with a maiden aunt, Miss Charmian Bond, in a village called Pett Bottom in Kent. The obituary places his home next to the Duck Inn, which in fact was a pub favoured by Ian Fleming in his latter years, where he would enjoy English staples such as steak and kidney pie for lunch. There is a plaque attached to his favourite seat in the pubís garden. Bond had been entered to Eton by his father at birth and went there under his Auntís guardianship until being expelled, at which point he attended his fatherís old school, Fettes College. A mile from the centre of Edinburgh, the school was also attended by Tony Blair, and was perhaps where Bond first learnt the rules of golf. During his time as a milkman, Fettes was on Sean Conneryís delivery round.

Another off duty moment is to be found when James Bond first appears in From Russia, With Love. Bond wakes up completely bored with life. He hasnít been on a mission for nearly a year and yearns for action. This is the first real glimpse of his home life in his small but comfortable flat in a converted Regency house, located in a small square off the Kingís Road in Chelsea. The Kingís Road was named for Charles II and although the remains of the English upper classes rub shoulders with investment bankers and film stars, it has for many years had a reputation for being Londonís bohemian quarter. This reputation originated in Victorian times when it was home to many artists and where the pre-Raphaelite movement was centred. The Kingís Road was also heart of the Swinging Sixties and both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones lived there for a time.

 
Above: Fettes College in Edinburgh, Bond's father's old school.

After ringing a bell to alert his housekeeper, May, that he is ready for breakfast, Bond proceeds with some exercises, before showering and dressing. Breakfast is Bondís favourite meal of the day and when in London it always consists of two large cups of very strong coffee, black and unsweetened, brewed in an American Chemex, an egg boiled for three and a third minutes and served in a dark blue egg cup with a gold ring around the top and two thick slices of whole-wheat toast with butter and a choice of strawberry jam, marmalade and honey.

While at headquarters, Bond sometimes goes to "Scottís" with best friend in the service, Chief of Staff, Bill Tanner, or with his secretary, Mary Goodnight. Located in Coventry Street when the books were written, he would order dressed crab and Black Velvet or roast grouse and pink Champagne and it is likely that this is the unidentified favourite restaurant in Moonraker. Scottís moved to Mount Street in Mayfair in the 1970s and celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2001.

In Goldfinger Bond returns to Kent, staying at the "Channel Packet" in Ramsgate and visiting the Royal St Markís golf course at Sandwich. Although he spends much of his weekends on the golf courses around London, Bondís assignment has taken him to the course in order to make contact with Auric Goldfinger. In fact, although he had played two rounds every day during the week while still in his teens, James Bond had not visited Royal St Markís for "fifteen, twenty years". Royal St Markís was in fact heavily based on Flemingís favourite course, the Royal St Georgeís, and he even changed the name of the club professional of the time from Alfred Whiting to Alfred Blacking and the name of one of the bunkers from "the Maiden" to "the Virgin".


Above: Enton Hall in Surrey, the real life Shrublands
  An incident inspired by Fleming’s life was Bond’s visit to "Shrublands" in Thunderball. After his daily intake of sixty cigarettes and a bottle of gin were having the inevitable effect on his health, Fleming had visited "Enton Hall", a large Victorian health hydro in Surrey. In Thunderball, Bond is called to M’s office after his chief has returned from a stay at Shrublands with a new lease of life. Examining Bond’s medical record, he suggests that Bond would benefit from two weeks at the clinic and when Bond initially demurs, M makes clear that it is an order. In fact Bond returns from his fortnight at Shrublands a new man, and it takes an assassination attempt to restore him to his old habits. Fleming’s visit to Enton Hall was not as successful and following his release was directly put on a new course of drugs for his heart problem.

"The World Of James Bond" will visit Jamaica next...

Article by David Leigh.