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The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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Ovington Gardens & Ovington Square
Location of Colonel Blimp's house

Last Sunday (29th April 2001 Neal Lofthouse & I went to see Peeping Tom (1960) at the NFT. I went up to London earlier in the day so that I could pay another visit (I've been before) to Ovington Gardens & Ovington Square. That's where Clive Candy's house is in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943). 15 Ovington Square.

Some of the filming was done in and around the square, but as the house was blown up by a bomb in the film & they couldn't do that to the real house, they did some of it in the studio. Look carefully next time you watch the film & see if you can spot the difference.

I took quite a few pictures, they all relate to the sequence where Clive arrives home with Edith. BTW - why is "Edith" driving? A bit unusual for the 1920's. In fact I don't think I have ever seen Roger Livesey drive in a film. Could he drive?

Ovington Gdns 1 The first photo shows where (in the film) we see the Chelsea Pensioner (in the red coat) walking along the street. The camera pans left as Edith and Clive drive along the road. They're coming from the Brompton Road end of Ovington Gardens. The image (in the film) blurs a bit as we pan past these houses but various features can still be clearly identified. Note the iron railings, they never gave theirs up to the Spitfire fund as so many people did.

Ovington Gdns 2 Notice also the different balconies and the houses with the pillars & porches. The house numbers are a bit confusing, you see the Chelsea Pensioner walk past No 22 & towards us and No 23. But as the car drives past we see what looks like another No 23 !! In fact it's that the first houses we see are in Ovington Gardens and the first house with the pillars is No 1 Ovington Square. What looks like 23 is really No 3 Ovington Square. Ovington Gdns 3

And it's at this point that Ovington Gardens leads into Ovington Square. The square is rectangular, about 40 yards (metres) by 10 with a small garden in the middle (where Clive sits at the end of the film). The garden is fenced & locked (for residents only) but see the last picture on this page.

Ovington Sq 1 Edith drives up to Clive's house (he inherited it from his Aunt) ignoring the one-way system round the square as indicated by the big arrow telling drivers to turn left (that's almost certainly been made like that only in the last few decades, certainly after 1943). She appears to park in the middle of the road. We see a milkman delivering from a handcart and a postman delivering to one of the houses in the Square (where that Jeep is parked). Ovington Sq 2

Ovington Sq 3 They park the car in front of Clive's house (the last one before the ones with the porch supported by pillars) and look up at the house. Edith points to the top floor thinking that's the den (where Clive hangs his animal heads) but Clive corrects her saying it's one floor down. As they look up they see Murdoch hanging out the Union Flag. Note the roof line, the house to the left juts out slightly & there's a step in the cornice. Ovington Sq 4

Ovington Sq 5 They walk up to the door and knock (don't they have a key?) for Murdoch. While he's coming downstairs Edith peeps through the letterbox to see what awaits her. In the film you can see thin glass panels on either side of the door, these have now been replaced with wooden panels. The knocker is different and the letter box has been cleaned of the paint that was on it when they filmed. But you can see it's the same house, No 15, Ovington Square, London SW3. As they wait for Murdoch they swear never to change "until the floods come and the basement is a lake". Ovington Sq 6

Ovington Sq 7 This final picture is taken from the other side of Ovington square looking across at No 15. In the final scene when Theo & Johnny come to console Clive he's sitting on a bench and they take him back to the house, or rather the bombed out plot where the house stood. The diamond shape with the letters EWS isn't a compass, it indicates an Emergency Water Supply. The basement is now a lake so Clive can change and thus the old Colonel Blimp is dead. Of course they couldn't knock down the real house so that's all shot in the studio.

Other P&P trips