was arguably one of the greatest directors of all time; as such, it wasn’t long before Hollywood beckoned. With the London-born director abandoning Britain
for the sunny shores of California
, his films in large part took on a very American feel, filled with crowded New York
streets and plane chases across flat expanses of farmland. However, some of the director’s most memorable films were shot in London, from Frenzy
with the poor lad from the East End remaining one of the city’s proudest exports. Take a gander around some of his early stomping grounds with our guide to Hitchcock’s London.
Hitchcock was born at 517 High Road in the East London borough of Leytonstone in 1899, above the greengrocer’s run by his family. His earliest memories, according to biographer John Russell Taylor, were formed in and around the shop. Unfortunately, the row of houses was demolished some time in the 1960s, and replaced with a petrol station. However, the row of properties from 527 to 533 are adorned with a large mural of The Birds, produced by Mateusz J. Odrobny and Anna Mill and commissioned by Waltham Forest Council in 2014, while the petrol station is marked by a blue plaque. Hitchcock lived in Leytonstone until the mid-1900s, and was famously sent to the local police station on Harrow Road (now a Costcutter) by his father when he was a young boy, with a note asking the police officers to lock him in a cell for bad behaviour. Today, 16 mosaics depicting scenes from his films can be found throughout Leytonstone Underground Station.
Leytonstone Underground Station, Church Lane, London, UK
After leaving Leytonstone, the Hitchcock family moved to the historical thoroughfare of Salmon Lane in Limehouse, a vibrant, highly diverse market area of the East End. The family moved into a fishmonger’s at 175 Salmon Lane, while also taking over a fish-frying shop at 130 Salmon Lane. Much of this area was redeveloped after WWII, but one of the many pubs on their street, The Prince Regent, still remains. A short walk away, at 112 Poplar High Street, is the site of the London County Council School of Marine Engineering and Navigation (now Tower Hamlets College), where Hitchcock enrolled in 1913, while a few minutes walk westwards takes you to 100 Sidney Street, the site of the notorious Siege of Sidney Street, a 1911 armed standoff between the police, the army and two Latvian revolutionaries who would later inspire the ending of Hitchcock’s 1934 movie The Man Who Knew Too Much.
Limehouse, London, UK
Brompton Oratory, Knightsbridge
Brompton Oratory, Knightsbridge
Hitchcock made the move westwards as his career started to pick up, relocating to upmarket Kensington. In 1926, he married Alma Reville in the Brompton Oratory, a magnificent, neoclassical baroque church in Knightsbridge. Hitchcock met Reville while working at a film studio in Islington, where she was also working as a script writer and director’s assistant – an unusual position for a woman at the time. Reville would become an important collaborator for Hitchcock, adapting and even co-authoring his scripts, as well as assisting on set. Though she had directing ambitions of her own, she would never fulfill them. The pair would stay together until Hitchcock’s death in 1980.
Brompton Oratory, Brompton Road, London, UK, +44 20 7808 0900
Brompton Oratory | © Diliff /Wikicommons
153 Cromwell Road, Kensington
Following their wedding, Reville and Hitchcock moved into a flat on the top two floors of this address, where they would remain until their departure for Hollywood in 1939. Prior to their marriage, the pair had spent their entire courtship travelling great distances (he from Leytonstone and she from Twickenham) to meet in the middle. While enjoying married life together, the pair also used their home as a space to work on their film projects, meeting together with script writers – Hitchcock preferring to write at home, rather than in an office. Their daughter, Patricia, was born at the house in 1928, and returned in 1999 to unveil a blue plaque dedicated to her father.
153 Cromwell Road, Kensington, London, UK
Gainsborough Studios, Shoreditch
It was at the Gainsborough Studios (originally known as the Islington Studios) that Hitchcock both met his wife and made his first steps in the film industry; he was initially employed as a title card designer, before being permitted to shoot his early silent films. It was built in 1920, and was considered the UK’s premier studio, but fell empty following WWII. The building was demolished in the early 2000s, and was replaced by luxury flats, though the word ‘Gainsborough‘ is spelled out in Hollywood-esque style on the building’s roof. The complex contains a large, steel sculpture of Hitchcock’s head by Antony Donaldson, while John Edwards’ Hitchcock’s Reel sculpture stands nearby in Shoreditch Park.
Gainsborough Studios, Baring Street, Shoreditch, London, UK
Sculpture of Alfred Hitchcock outside Gainsborough Studios | © mapeye/Flickr
Simpson’s-in-the-Strand is a traditional dining room with beautiful wood paneling, famous for its table-side carving service. Established in 1828, it is one of London’s oldest restaurants, and was a particular favourite of Alfred Hitchcock – as it was of the likes of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle before him. Gainsborough Studios, too, offered a staff restaurant that housed a chef from the famous eatery, and Hitchcock actually recreated the interior of the restaurant at Lime Grove Studios for a scene in Sabotage in 1936.
Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, 100 Strand, London, UK, +44 20 7836 9112