Mary Poppins Movie Locations in London
The practically perfect nanny first graced the screen in 1964 and has become one of the most beloved films of all time. After learning that his two daughters had fallen in love with the fantastical nanny, Walt Disney knew he had to make this children’s story into a film. While Mary Poppins was filmed on a sound stage at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, the inspiration for the locations Mary and the Banks children visit can be found in London, here’s our roundup of the best.
‘Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane you say?’
The Banks’ Family Home
The famous film is based on a children’s book written by Australian-British writer P.L. Travers in 1934. Travers was a lifelong resident of the Royal Borough of Chelsea and Kensington, which is known for its beautiful residential cherry-blossom lined streets and is most likely to have inspired the Banks’ family home, Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane. Visit 50 smith street Chelsea, to see the authors’ home, complete with blue plaque dedication
Tour guide tip: Who remembers the home of Admiral Boom on Cherry Tree Lane? This was modeled on the real house on Admirals Way, Hampstead, London NW3.
‘Have you ever seen the grass so green or a bluer sky?’
Across the street from the Banks’ house, Bert show’s Mary and the Banks children – Jane and Michael – his chalk art. Jumping into the chalk painting Mary, Bert, Jane, and Micheal land in a cartoon park. “Oh it’s a jolly holiday with Mary. Mary makes your heart so light! When the day is grey and ordinary, Mary makes the sun shine bright!” The cartoon park with its willow trees and winding river is inspired by Queen Mary’s Garden located in Regents Park. Whilst the chalk drawings on the floor are less common in Regent’s park, it is still common practice in Trafalgar square in front of the National Gallery.
At the Races
On the back of a carousel horse, Mary competes in the horse race inside of the chalk painting and wins. In celebration of the win, Mary, Bert, and the horse race goers sing supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, which is something to say when the “cat has got your tongue”. Even though this is a made-up word it has become so famous, that it has even been added to the Webster Dictionary. If you want an authentic day out at the races we recommend Royal Windsor Racecourse, which is located about an hours drive outside of the city. If you want just a taste of the races, we recommend the Queen Mother’s memorial statues just off the Mall. Phillip Jackson bronze frieze’ depicts the ‘gigis’ in such beautiful detail, you can almost hear the hooves on the ground and the cheers from the stalls.
‘Feed the birds, that’s what she cries, while overhead, her birds fill the skies’
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Picking up a snow globe of St. Paul Cathedral and giving it a shake, Mary sends the Banks children off to sleep with a lullaby, Feed the Birds. This particular song was Walt Disney’s favorite song up until his death in 1966, having the Sherman brothers playing their masterpiece every time he could. In the song, Mary references that every day the bird woman sits on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral selling her bird feed. The next morning, Mr. Banks and the Banks children pass by St. Paul’s Cathedral on the way to the bank. As they pass the cathedral, Michael Banks spots the bird woman sitting on the steps of St. Pauls. Michael then declares he wishes to give his tuppence to feed the birds instead of investing them in the bank.
St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most iconic sites in London, with its recognizable dome – one of the largest domes in the world – and the renaissance/English baroque architecture. “All around the cathedral, the saints and apostles look down as she sells her wares. Although you can’t see it, you know they are smiling, each time someone shows that he cares…” we hear of the saints and apostles on the facade of St. Paul’s Cathedral. When visiting the cathedral you can see some of these saints and apostles such as St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Philip, St. Matthew, St. John, and others.
Tour Guide tip: Bring your own birdseed. We can’t guarantee an old lady, but you are never more than a few feet from a pigeon wherever you are in London. And stop for a feed of your own in the crypt of the church, decent good value food in a landmark location.
Fidelity Fiduciary Bank!
The Bank of England
In the climax of the film, Mr. Banks takes Jane and Michael to the bank to “deposit tuppence in a bank account, soon you’ll see that it blooms into credit of a generous amount, semiannually”. Michael inevitably refused to invest his tuppence since he wanted to feed the birds on the steps of St. Pauls. With this Michael and Jane make a disturbance and create a run on the bank with all of the bank guests and cost Mr. Banks his job. While the bank facade and the inside were all built by Walt Disney Studios on a soundstage, it was fashioned to look like the real Bank of England, the central bank of the United Kingdom found not far from St Pauls at Threadneedle Street EC2R 8AH.
Tour Guide tip: The vault section of the Bank of England is the only building in the city with no windows – a security measure to prevent burglaries!
‘Chim Chim Cher-ee a Chimney Sweep is Lucky as Lucky can be!’
The Rooftops of London
While Dick Van Dyke’s character of Bert is a dramatization of a chimney sweep, in the song Chim Chim Cher-ee he sings about the real life legend of how lucky chimney sweeps can be. Legend says that it is always lucky to have a chimney sweep at your wedding, after a chimney sweep saved King William the Conqueror’s life and was later invited to King William’s daughters wedding. However, that is not the only way to gain luck from a chimney sweep. It is also said that directly after the sweep has cleaned your flue, “good luck will rub off when I shake hands with you or blow me a kiss… and that’s lucky too”.
The industry of chimney sweeps has dwindled with the introduction of modern heating methods. However, we’ve found that from most high buildings in London you can get a good vista of the Victorian chimneys. And if you look close enough you can almost see Bert’s blackened face popping out of one! We suggest the Heights at St Georges Hotel or any other of the elevated views seen in our blog of London’s Best Heights.
Leicester square is home to a bronze statue of the practically perfect nanny and she’s in good company too. This statue is a part of the “Scenes in the Square Trail” which also includes statue of Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain, Paddington Bear sitting on a bench, and Harry Potter during a Quidditch match. The Mary Poppins statue is located near Prince Edward Theatre which might have Mary Poppins playing while you’re in London, so make sure to check the show lineup.
If you would like a Mary Poppins – themed private tour of London, email us at ‘email@example.com‘.