One of the best things about EverWalk has to be the wide range of walking enthusiasts it attracts from all over the world. In these EverWalk blogs, we enjoy featuring different perspectives on walking. This Halloween week, our London Ambassador, Peter Fuller, shares how his love of Vincent Price — the King of Horror who is (g)hosting this month’s virtual haunted walk — inspired him to walk all over London, bringing unexpected surprises!
Here’s what Peter has to say about his horror-movie-inspired London walking tours:
Over the past five years, I have been conducting walking tours in London, which have followed in the footsteps of Vincent Price – in particular visiting the original film locations of the 1973 comedy-horror Theatre of Blood.
Vincent was a true Anglophile. He first visited the UK, aged 17, as part of a European art vacation in 1928, where he fell in love with London. Vincent returned in the mid-1930s to undertake an arts degree at the famed Courtauld Institute of Art. It was during this time that he caught the acting bug, and appeared in a couple of productions at the Gate Theatre, one of which was, Victoria Regina, which propelled him onto Broadway and beyond. In the mid-1960s, Vincent – now a bona fide Hollywood star and the newly crowned Master of Menace – returned to the UK to work on a series of horror and fantasy films, most notably Masque of the Red Death, the Dr Phibes films and Theatre of Blood. And this he continued to do over the next two decades.
I originally started my walking tours based on Theatre of Blood. These usually take place in the summer, and it is always a fantastic day out crisscrossing London with fellow fans. Visiting all of the locations takes two days, so each year I mix them up a bit, so it’s always an adventure and a great way to see parts of London even Londoners rarely visit. But we certainly cover a few miles over ten hours.
The locations we visit include St John’s Wood, near the famous Abbey Road Studios, the iconic Hammersmith Bridge and fashionable Chelsea. We also see the shipyard where Lionheart is pulled out of the Thames by a group of meth drinkers. This is something that some of the attendees always enjoy recreating. After a much-needed lunch stop, we then head to Putney where Lionheart’s lair, the former Putney Hippodrome, was situated. Another destination is Vauxhall, where we get a close-up view of the riverside apartment, Peninsula Heights (now the home of author and former politician Jeffrey Archer), were Lionheart takes his swan dive into the Thames.
One of the locations lies outside of London – Oakley Court in Windsor. This is a suitably evocative Gothic mansion that has been used in many a classic British horror (and non-horror) films, with quite a few by Hammer as well as Richard O’Brien’s cult hit, Rocky Horror Picture Show. The namecheck of the stars who have filmed at Oakley Court is endless – with those kings of horror Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff being the icing on the Gothic horror cake. I have since organized a separate outing to visit the manor, which is now a bespoke hotel which warmly welcomes horror fans. As a bonus, we hire small boats to view Bray Film Studios (the former home of Hammer).
I also conduct tours of Kensal Green Cemetery – one of London’s Magnificent Seven cemeteries. This is an exceptional place for Theatre of Blood fans, for it was here that the entire cast assembled for a critical scene and where Vincent met Coral Browne – who would go on to become his third wife. This tour also allows me the chance to highlight some of the most important monuments. Among the princes and paupers, the famous and the infamous, over 1500 notable personalities have been laid to rest here. They include The Woman in White novelist Wilkie Collins, Alice in Wonderland illustrator John Tenniel, and the friends and relatives of Lord Byron and Charles Dickens. As such, the tour has expanded into a historical one as well.
Last year, I started another walking tour based on Vincent’s London connections. This one takes place in South Kensington, and only takes a couple of hours. We pass Vincent’s London residence, as well as the homes of some other famous stars including Judy Garland, Dirk Bogarde, Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee. It is also something of a literary tour as we also take in the homes of Bram Stoker, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde.
Of course, Covid has put a dampener on these tours, which I hope to resurrect again one day soon. In the meantime, I have been working closely with the organisers of the October Month of the Dead celebrations to create an audio tour of Kensal Green Cemetery so that people can download a map, and take the tour on their own steam.
But the most important thing that has come out of conducting these tours is that I have connected people who have all gone on to become firm friends. And that makes me very joyful.
These tours are a great way to combine my love for movies, film locations, history and also walking together with like-minded people. Sharing this with the EverWalk community is an added bonus. Walking together is a great way to bring people together, forge friendships, and see the worls around us with fresh eyes.