Camera, action, Searcys! Filming Opportunities at our Most Iconic Venues25 January 2022
With over 15 venues across some of the UK’s most iconic landmarks – from a listed palace to a London skyscraper, townhouses to stately livery halls – Searcys has the inside track to doors that might be normally closed to the general public. In fact, observant fans of James Bond, Sherlock, The Crown, Bridget Jones’ Baby and Harry Potter – to name a few – may well recognise the historic facades and stunning interiors of some of our venues from the silver screen. Many of our venues have years of experience in hosting film production, meaning they’ve got it down to a fine art and streamlined the process to make it as hassle-free as possible for you and your team. Here’s the scoop on where to film your next production.
Searcys at The Gherkin in The City of London
One of London’s most stunning landmark skyscrapers and the only one with 360º views across the City, filming at the Gherkin is all about showing the modern face of the capital. The iconic structure was completed by Sir Norman Foster in 2003, and is widely considered to be the ‘prettiest’ of all London’s skyscrapers. Properly referred to as 30 St Mary Axe, it takes its popular moniker from the unique shape, said to look like a gherkin. The Gherkin’s structure was created by a spiral of glass panels, topped with one large curved piece. It won the Emporis Skyscraper Award in 2003, which recognises architectural excellence when it comes to both design and functionality.
Location is key when it comes to filming opportunities at The Gherkin, with panoramic views of the city as the backdrop, and a versatile space. Levels 39 and 40, as well as smaller breakout rooms on Level 38, work for everything from impressive business video conferences and promotional filming, to material for wedding videographers and more. From corporate video streaming purposes, the Gherkin’s five private rooms have tried and tested technology that is successfully used to deliver a high-quality online experience, seamlessly joining all the elements between the hybrid event rooms and their delegates, wherever they may be.
The Barbican, The City of London
Being one of London’s most iconic Brutalist buildings, filming at The Barbican instantly gives any production a definitive sense of place in the heart of The City. The development a statement of post-war architecture, as well being a world-class arts and learning organisation. The architecturally renowned centre opened in 1982 and comprises the Barbican Hall, the Barbican Theatre, The Pit, Cinemas 1, 2 and 3, Barbican Art Gallery, a second gallery The Curve, public spaces, a library, the Lakeside Terrace, a glasshouse Conservatory, conference facilities and three restaurants.
The building is a James Bond favourite, and many of the iconic spy franchise movies have shown a glimpse of it. In Daniel Craig’s movies, the HQ of MI6 is filmed The Barbican, and in the 2008 Quantum of Solace the organisation operates out of the building for the first time. Sharp-eyed spectators will also remember The Barbican from the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie, starring Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr, and Rowan Atkinson’s hilarious Johnny English. The Barbican Centre’s Communications team receive a large number of filming and photography requests each year, and do their best to accommodate requests wherever possible.
The Hac, The City of London
For the first time since its completion in 1735, the Armoury House and the beautiful Artillery Garden at the HAC will be available for central London location filming, magazine and television shoots.
Armoury House is steeped in history, full of Georgian character and adorned with numerous antiques and items of military memorabilia. A sweeping staircase from the entrance hall up to the first floor creates a fitting build-up to our most impressive space, the Long Room. A series of smaller spaces offer a range of looks and feels and include a library, a minstrels’ gallery, a bar and several lounge areas, which all make popular choices for filming location hire in London.
The five-acre Artillery Garden is a unique open space in the City of London. It’s not just its size that makes the lawns so special, it’s the dual backdrops of the capital’s skyline and the beautiful, Georgian manor house. The gardens are used for rugby, cricket and football matches, summer parties, weddings and drinks receptions, and make an impressive backdrop for outside filming in London.
Also available for hire is our conference suite – a 50m long ex-drill hall which has been extensively modernised. The high ceilings and neutral décor of the Prince Consort Room means it can be transformed to meet a variety of briefs, perfect if you’re looking for a blank canvas filming location in London. It also has a handy green room/location office tucked away off the main entrance.
Vintners’ Hall, The City of London
Last but not least, we come to the historic Vintners Hall. The Vintners’ Company, with its first Charter in 1363, is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London. With a history in the trade of wool and wine throughout the Middle Ages. Nowadays, this deeply historic venue makes a unique film set – with a grand banqueting hall adorned by wood panels and large crystal chandeliers ideal for regal scenes from the middle ages.
The View at Lincoln’s Inn Field, Holborn
The stunning combination of modern and classical architecture at Searcys’ newest venue makes it an adaptable filming venue, combining a contemporary staircase and state-of-the-art conference rooms. The two-tiered Lumley Library is a particularly dramatic filming location. It features a high panelled ceiling, period balcony running around all four walls of the room, and pronounced olive green & cream colour palate.
The venue is home to the Royal College of Surgeons of England, founded by the Royal Charter in 1800. It has been used for a number of filming purposes in the past: a scene from The TV programme New Tricks was filmed at the Royal College of Surgeons, one in which Dr Caldwell is murdered at a party, as well as The Sweeney (a 2012 adaptation of the 70’s TV show) and 2012 mystery drama TV series The Bletchley Circle.
St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar, Kings Cross
One of the most elegant train stations in the world, this gothic Victorian masterpiece has featured as the backdrop for many cinematic moments. The station’s most famous spots include the main hall (properly known as the ‘Barlow Shed,’ which when built was the largest enclosed space in the world); two famous statues (one of poet laureate Sir John Betjeman, and a second named Meeting Place); the famous Dent St. Pancras clock, the Eastern Arch leading to the hotel forecourt, and a ground floor level full of high spec retail spaces. All these iconic features under one roof provide filmmakers with a wealth of contrasting location options.
You may well recognise the iconic arches of St Pancras station from scenes in Bridget Jones Baby, 102 Dalmatians, and of course as the external background to many classic scenes in Harry Potter, with the fictional Platform 9 ¾ found in Kings Cross. Most recently, in the 2019 Spider Man: Far From Home, the station is the backdrop for a scene in which Peter Parker and his friends arrive in London for a summer trip.
Searcys Brasserie and Champagne Bar runs along the Eurostar concourse, and is the longest Champagne bar in Europe. It’s also home to the original ‘Press for Champagne’ buttons, with impressive Art Deco interiors within the ornate red brick arches. Searcys venue itself is regularly featured as a backdrop to news stories, and also in much loved TV series Absolutely Fabulous, when Eddy and Patsy’s hysterical trip to Champagne started at St Pancras Champagne Bar.
HS1, the station operator, always try to support filming and photography at this station, especially those that look to showcase and celebrate the stunning architecture and character of the building. For more information, please refer to the station’s website.
30 Euston Square
30 Euston Square is a prestigious venue in the heart of London, and home to the Royal College of General Practitioners. The stunning Grade II listed building dates back to 1906, and still features an original grand Victorian façade and Greek Revival style entrance hall – both of which provide atmospheric backdrops to historically-inspired movies and TV shows.
On a more practical note, the modern event spaces benefit from state-of-the-art technology, with a wide range of rooms available for use. The venue is also one of Searcys’ only locations to have an auditorium, which can be used for filming presentations and lecture series. The 300 seat tiered Auditorium is a central feature of this magnificent venue, one of the best conferences and event spaces in London, and is equipped with a state-of-the-art Sony HDR 4K laser projector.
10-11 Carlton House Terrace, St James
10-11 Carlton House Terrace – with its grand ballroom and Grade I-listed classical features – is one of Searcys’ most popular filming location. The classically Georgian property was built with the striking backdrop of St James’s Park and Pall Mall during the late 1820s and early 1830s, and was once the Westminster home of former British Prime Minister William Gladstone. It makes for an impactful filming location that combines historical period features with modern facilities for cast and crew.
If you think you may recognise 10-11 Carlton House Terrace from somewhere, that’s probably because you do! In the BBC’s cult favourite Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, the exterior of No. 10 was used in both series 2 and 3. It appeared as the facade for the Diogenes Club – a gentlemen’s club frequently featured in the original Sherlock Holmes novels. In Netflix’s smash-hit original The Crown, Carlton House Terrace appears in more than one guise. It’s the German Embassy in season 2, where Wallis Simpson is seen through the window handing over state secrets, and in season 3 the private members club where Sir Anthony Blunt is arrested after it is revealed he is a spy feeding military secrets to the Kremlin. It’s also been used as a film set for Bridget Jones Diary, Mr Selfridge, Dorian Gray, Cruella, and perhaps most excitingly for scenes in the 2021 James Bond movie No Time To Die. Outside the blockbuster world, large brands such as Red Magazine, Boden and Lipsy have also hired Carlton House Terrace for their production needs and photoshoots.
(Images: Sherlock BBC)
A number of individual decorative features throughout the townhouse offers ideal settings for TV interviews and period dramas. Among its treasures are the bright triple aspect Lee Reading Room flanked by bookshelves; a three-flight black marble staircase sweeping into a grand entrance hall; the French-style features by Detmar Blow and Ferdnand Billerey; and a trompe l’oeil painted ceiling. Finally, the Lecture Room is also an imposing location for a private screening or press launch. Hire the whole house, or go for a selection of the rooms or one floor of the building to suit your production’s needs.
116 Pall Mall, Mayfair
This outstanding Grade I-listed building makes for another spectacular film and TV location, conveniently situated just moments from iconic London locations, such as Downing Street, Mayfair and Trafalgar Square. The venue showcases Georgian architecture in all its elegance and splendour, with flexible filming spaces across five floors and original period interiors still intact. The sweeping staircase has made an appearance in many popular films, TV programmes and genuine historical moments caught on camera (the most notable being Margaret Thatcher’s eulogy for President Reagan). Among other productions, scenes from Downton Abbey, Gandhi, The Dark Knight and Made in Chelsea have all been filmed here.
With a vast amount of original features down in Café Duke – once the original washrooms for officers of the United Services Club – this space has been a popular backdrop for filming, including the famous ‘Why so serious’ pool scene featuring Heath Ledger as “the Joker” in Batman The Dark Knight. Most recently, Infinite, released in 2021 and featuring Mark Wahlberg was filmed on our roof, in the Carlton Room and on the staircase.
A wide range of diverse period spaces across 5 floors makes 116 Pall Mall an outstanding filming location, as well as serving as a luxurious backdrop to numerous perfume, jewellery and fashion shoots and ad campaigns.
The Royal Institution, Mayfair
This elegant Mayfair venue offers a mix of period and contemporary spaces for location hire, and is popular with science productions in particular. With high ceilings and beautifully proportioned windows, the venue’s filming spaces offer natural daylight and a wealth of historical features, all set against the backdrop of one of Mayfair’s most prestigious streets. From intimate interviews, filming for the big screen, documentaries or hybrid events, the Royal Institution is a splendid central London filming location.
The RI is an independent charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science, and a lot of this is done through the big screen. There are a range of hireable spaces, meaning the RI can not only provide your next filming backdrop, but also space for your production office and Green Rooms. Brian Cox took advantage of the Green Room facilities here when filming Adventures in Space in Time, and the Ri’s own popular TV science show The Christmas Lectures are recorded here every year. Started by Michael Faraday in 1825, the world’s oldest science series is broadcast on national television every year to millions of viewers.
The RI’s contemporary Mezzanine is ideal for filming modern documentaries. For period dramas and historical productions on the other hand, the historic Regency Library can transform into almost any era. The sweeping double staircase in the Grand Entrance is a favourite with location managers while original features of the first floor are perfectly suited to a period backdrop.
No 11 Cavendish Square, Marylebone
Situated in the heart of London’s West End, No.11 Cavendish Square is a Grade II-listed Georgian townhouse, which perfectly maintains its original features while combining them with an exquisite contemporary design. The venue houses 20 event spaces with several large lecture theatres, breakout rooms, board rooms and a light and airy Orangery and courtyard garden ideal for alfresco scenes. The Green House, Garden and Edwards rooms add to the variety of spaces that are perfect for hosting those special events. Finally, the Garden Room is situated in the oldest part of No.11 Cavendish Square, and retains much of its Georgian (think high ceilings, ornate fireplaces and beautiful bay windows) ideal for period dramas.
In terms of filming opportunities, the varied event spaces can be hired separately for smaller productions, or the whole venue can be taken over. The courtyard garden features a delightful lush green ‘living wall’ installation and water fixture; a wonderful space for outdoor productions. For corporate production purposes, the conference and meeting facilities are all equipped with the latest AV technology.