Revisiting Vincent Price’s Grand Tour of Europe

It was back in 1928 that a 17-year-old Vincent Price first stepped foot on European soil as part of his Grand Tour, where he finally got to see the great works of art that he was so passionate about. His tour took in seven art capitals, beginning in the UK on 14 July and ending in France on 26 August.

Recently, ESC Tours – which is run by his daughter Victoria Price and Vincent Price Legacy UK curator Peter Fuller – put together a series of bespoke tours in Belgium, the Netherlands and France, that not only followed in Vincent’s footsteps, but also paid homage to his life philosophy – to be forever curious about the world around you. Here’s what happened…

On Tuesday 21 May, our first port of call was the historic Huis ter Duin in Noordwijk, where Vincent Price stayed with his tour group in 1928. It was here that, according to his personal diary, he had a transcendental connection with his mother back home in his home town in St Louis, Missouri. We took a bracing walk along the beach, attempted a little ESP connection to those who had gone or lived apart from us – just as Vincent did – then toured the hotel where Vincent’s group stayed 91 years ago. Much has changed of course — lots of renovation and extensions have taken place on the historic hotel (where the Dutch royals once resided alongside the upper classes here) — but it was a great start to our journey.

We then headed off to Delft, famous, of course, for the Dutch Baroque Period painter Johannes Vermeer and its iconic blue and white tiles. Our tour of the city mainly centred on the town square, which was featured in an iconic sequence in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre.

Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre was partly filmed in Delft
The gang pose outside the house that inspired Vermeer’s The Little Street (Het Straatje)

On Wednesday 22 May, we headed into Wallonia, famous for its ancient castles, fortresses and beautiful scenery, where we visited a museum dedicated to the Belgian cartoonist Hergé (of Tintin fame), took lunch at Maredsous Abbey, where they produce their own beer and cheese, and toured some castle ruins in Montaigle. We also happened to chance upon a film shoot taking place at remote property that looked ever so spooky — we think it may have been for a horror film.

The Musée Hergé in Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium is a must visit
Enjoying a tipple at Maredsous Abbey
The ruins of the medieval castle of Montaigle in Onhaye, Belgium

Thursday 23 May and it was time to board our Mystery Machine again for the drive to Ghent where we strolled through the famous ancient city, visited St Bavo’s Cathedral to see the famed Ghent Altarpiece, Het Lam Gods, and took a self-guided tour Gravensteen Castle (where we were rather disappointed to find that its dungeon was no more).

Glorious Ghent

After some retail therapy and a rest-up at a local cafe, we headed to the coast, to Oostende, where we checked into the glorious Thermae Palace hotel — a real gem and reminder of the past — where Harry Küme’s classic Belgium vampire horror, Daughters of Darkness (aka Les Lèvres Rouges), was filmed (check out my now and then shots below). During our walk on the beach at sunset we couldn’t resist recreating our own version of the Ghent Altarpiece when we chanced upon a steel sculpture inspired by it.

Now and then with the Daughters of Darkness at the Thermae Palace in Oostende, Belgium
Now and then with the Daughters of Darkness at the Thermae Palace in Oostende, Belgium

Our road trip concluded on Friday 24 May with us heading back to Schipol via the abandoned city of Doel. Now this is not on any normal tour, but is a must. It’s a ghost town that’s turned into living art – and the total antithesis of the other attraction we visited – Kinderdijk, a picture postcard Dutch village filled with windmills and coachloads of tourists (which the locals hate BTW).

Windmill overload at Kinderdijk village in South Holland

Saying goodbye to our Mystery Machine, and to some of our group, we took the train into Amsterdam, where we met up with a new group of campers for a welcome dinner at De Kas, a fab farm-to-table restaurant located in a set of greenhouses that date back to the 1920s. This would be the first of three elaborate meals that we would have during our stay. The Dutch love their taster menus — and boy do they know how to do them.

Our Amsterdam adventure kicked off properly on Saturday 25 May with a visit to the Rijksmuseum, home to Rembrandt’s The Night Watch (one of the key works of art that Vincent saw for the first time – up, close and personal – in 1928).

We also visited the All the Rembrandts Exhibition, which presented 22 paintings, 60 drawings and more than 300 best examples of Rembrandt’s prints. Interestingly, Vincent’s first piece of art that he bought was a Rembrandt etching. Unfortunately, it was never recorded as to which piece it was — so we shall never know what became of it.

You can read more about Vincent’s stay in The Netherlands and his love of art by reading this excerpt from My Trip Abroad: https://vincentpricejournal.wordpress.com/i-like-what-i-know-a-visual-autobiography-by-vincent-price-1959/

One of the activities we do on our tours is pick our favourite piece from each art collection that we visit and then discuss it later. This piece, Saul and the Witch of Endor, attracted the attention of three of us in the group — probably on account of its occult themes and its fantastical creatures.

Saul and the Witch of Endor (Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, c. 1472/77)
Rijks Restaurant, Amsterdam

We were also treated to a mammoth three-hour five-course lunch at the Michelin-starred Rijks restaurant, which had ‘traded spaces’ with a farm-to-table restaurant in Bali called Locavore. The quality was excellent, and the quanity bountiful — but no room for dinner this evening.

The Museum Quarter in Amsterdam was a great place to start our city break, and some of our group took the opportunity to visit the new Moco Contemporary Art Museum, which was dedicated to the works of the street artist Banksy, as well as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Daniel Arsham. I think I loved the setting, the historic Villa Alsberg, as much as the artwork.

Moco Contemporary Art Museum

Sunday 26 May found our group splitting up to visit Rembrandt’s House and the Amsterdam Dungeon (which was whole lot of fun), then we all met up to tour the Anne Frank House, where Anne, her family and four other people who hid from the Nazis in rooms in the secret annex during World War Two. This was truly a sobering, educational visit, and is a must-do when in the city.

The evening was all about Vincent Price as we headed to Lab 111 for a presentation by Victoria about her dad’s legacy, followed by a screening of House of the Long Shadows starring Vincent alongside Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing — which was perfect as it was Peter’s birthday today, while Vincent and Chris’ birthday is May 27.

And speaking of birthday’s, on Monday 27 May, we celebrated what would have been Vincent’s 108th birthday by doing the things he would have done – we headed to an art museum, of course. In this case, it was the Van Gogh Museum, which was a true delight and a place I could happily return to time and again.

You can’t not head to Amsterdam without doing a canal cruise, which took in the well-known districts of the Pijp, the Jordaan and the Red Light District, as we sailed past iconic bridges and the picturesque merchant houses — including ones that featured in the Bond classic, Diamonds Are Forever, starring Sean Connery.

In 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, Sean Connery’s 007 visits Jill St John’s Tiffany Case at 36 Reguliersgracht in Keizersgracht, Amsterdam

We ended the day with a meal at the Restaurant La Rive in the Amstel Hotel, where Vincent and Mary Price also visited and included in their acclaimed culinary tome, A Treasury of Great Recipes. This was another gastromonic affair where we got a true taste of haute cuisine.

The classy and classic Amstel Hotel

On Tuesday 28 May, we had planned on a day trip to of Haarlem before taking the train to Paris — but misfortune struck in the form of a public transport strike. So we ended up on a Eurolines coach — which took many hours. Not a great start to the final part of our European adventure, but we are all laughing about it now.

A transport strike didn’t stop us from continuing our Euro tour

Vincent Price ended his Grand Tour of 1928 in Paris, where he visited so many of Paris’s justly famous cultural sites. We planned to do the same — and added in a few more that have since become part of the pantheon of the City of Lights.

So, on Wednesday 29 May, we began with a morning tour of the Musee d’Orsay art gallery set in a stunning converted Beaux Arts railway station, followed by lunch at 1.30pm at the Eiffel Tower’s 58 Tour restaurant (which has the best views of Paris in my book). In the afternoon, we cruised the Seine, and concluded with dinner at Café de l’Empire, where confit duck was the speciality. A big day indeed… and much needed after that long journey the day before.

If you’d like to read what Vincent had to say about his visit to Paris in 1928, check out this excerpt from My First Trip Abroad: https://vincentpricejournal.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/vincent-price-on-paris-the-louvre-and-ethel-barrymore/

For horror fans, visiting Notre Dame and the Palais Opera Garnier is a must when in Paris — especially regarding their links to those classics of the horror genre, The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. While Notre Dame was closed due to the recent devastating fire, when we visited on Thursday 30 May, some of the group took a tour of the Opera House while others explored the nearby Galleries Lafayette, for a bit of retail therapy.

Then it was off to the Louvre – unquestionably one of the finest art galleries in the world with some 380,000 objects from pre-history to the 21st century with 35,000 works of art over 8 departments on display. After a good few hours there, we finished the day with dinner at La Grande Mosquée de Paris — which was so relaxing after the hussle and bustle of the Louvre and its many tourists.

On Friday, 31 May, we had a couple of different options. Some went off to explore some obscure sites of Paris, others wanted to rest, and another group headed to Fontainebleau to visit the historic town and take in an equestrian fair.

Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

On Saturday 1 June, Victoria lead an EverWalk excursion through the Marais, while I took a group to visit the Catacombs — but a yellow vests demonstration resulted in the police closing it for most of the day.

But all was not lost as we headed to Père Lachaise Cemetery for the rest of the afternoon and ended the day with one of the most touristy things ever — dinner and a show at the Moulin Rouge.

We finally did make it to the Catacombs of Paris… and its was so worth it!
Following in Vincent’s footsteps, we had to try out all the rides – including the Mad Hatter’s tea cups

Our adventures ended on a real high on Sunday 2 June with a trip to Disneyland Paris. Yes, I know its for kids and families — but we were guests of Disney because they have reintroduced Vincent’s original narration into the Phantom Manor attraction.

Victoria Price with the Disney Ambassadors at the Phantom Manor in Disneyland Paris, where Vincent’s original English narration has been re-instated

This was a fantastic opportunity to accompany Victoria as she listened to her dad’s voice again after so many years. We also got a personal guided tour of the park and were first in line for all the classic rides. It was, without doubt, a day to remember — and the perfect end to such an adventurous tour. Until next time, that is!

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Victoria Price guests at HorrorConUK this weekend

As HorrorConUK returns with ‘Something Wicked‘ this coming weekend at Rotherham’s Magna for its fifth spine-chilling year, Victoria Price will be one of the special guests, alongside Sean Pertwee, Corey Feldman, Dario Argento, Denis O’Hare, Ed Neal, Duncan Regher, John Carroll Lynch, Scout Taylor-Compton, Jennifer Ruben and horror genre artist Graham Humphreys, who has designed a specially commissioned print (available only at the event) featuring all the 2019 guests. Pre-order yours here

An inspirational speaker, blogger, interspiritual & interfaith minister and author, Victoria will bring her unique story to HorrorConUK during a Q&A moderated by author/journalist Tony Earnshaw, and is greatly looking forward to meeting and talking to fans of her dad, Vincent Price.

Joining Victoria, will be Vincent Price Legacy UK curator Peter Fuller who will be bringing along a wealth of Price Family books, including Victoria’s critically acclaimed biography of her father, Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography, which was re-printed in 2018 with some special new essays by Dover Publications.

Also available (and for the first time in print) will be the limited edition (100 copies only) book, Some of My Best Friends are Actresses, featuring Vincent’s personal memories of some of the famous women in his life ( Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Tallulah Bankhead, Georgia O’Keefe among them ), and the limited edition green vinyl 12″ EP The Conqueror Worm, featuring the voice of Vincent Price and a superb cover by Graham Humphreys.

Victoria will be happy to sign all these items as well as your own treasured Vincent Price memorabilia.

Something Wicked here we come!

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Thank you for a Vin-tastic year!

As we usher in 2019, I just want to thank you all for making 2018 one of the best years celebrating Vincent Price’s enduring legacy.

It all kicked off last spring when a group of us spent the weekend of 21 and 22 April in Suffolk and East Anglia exploring the original film locations used in Witchfinder General, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018.

Witchfinder General WeekenderLots of new friends were made during our adventures that coincided with Ian Ogilvy (one of the film’s stars) visiting London. While he wasn’t able to join us (but hopes to in the future), he kindly signed the fantastic souvenir poster designed by Graham Humphreys that was given out at the end of the tour to each of the attendees.

By popular demand, our annual walking tour of the Theatre of Blood London film locations returned in the summer, with 30 attendees (our biggest group yet) taking all manner of transport on Saturday July 28 to different parts of London as we sought out some of the most iconic sites used in the black comedy horror.

Theatre of Blood Film Location Walking Tour 2018This year we visited Kensal Green Cemetery, one of the key locations, and also returned to some of old favourites, including Meredith Merridew’s house in Putney and the old shipyard in Brentwood where Edward Lionheart is plucked out of the Thames by the meth drinkers. It was a great day, blessed with great weather again (I think Vincent was looking out for us).

2018 marked the 90th-anniversary of Vincent Price’s Grand Tour of Europe. As such, Victoria Price and myself wanted to honour her dad’s trip by exploring a bit of Europe ourselves as one of our ESC Tours excursions.

Austria and Germany were our destinations and our group had an amazing time in the first week of October visiting Vienna, Salzburg and Munich, with side trips to Colmar in France and Liechtenstein.

Highlights included Burg Kreuzenstein near Vienna (which was used in Mario Bava’s House of Wax homage, Baron Blood), the awe-inspiring ice caves in Werfen, and the Whale House in Frieberg (whose frontage was recreated as for the Dance Academy in Dario Argento’s Suspiria). Plus, we all got a private tour of the real-life Castle Frankenstein near Frankfurt.

Next year, we shall continue following in Vincent’s European footsteps with a trip to Amsterdam and Paris, and we’d love you to join us.

CHECK OUT OUR 2019 ESC TOURS HERE

Darlington Film ClubNovember was a very busy time as Victoria Price returned to the UK for a number of engagements, including a first time visit to Darlington to introduce Pit and the Pendulum at the local film club there and a return to Birmingham, where she accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of her dad at the annual Cine Excess conference. This was also attended by Pete Walker, who directed Vincent in House of the Long Shadows.

Our Birmingham trip also included a screening of Theatre of Blood at the Mockingbird Cinema where Victoria wowed the audience with her recollections of her dad making the film back in 1972.

Victoria Price and Pete WalkerBack in London, Victoria conducted an inspiring talk at the fantastic Cinema Museum hosted by the wonderful Misty Moon gang and also took on another role – as an ordained interfaith/interpsiritual minister – to conduct a wonderful wedding for our dear friends Roni and Stu, who chose Somewhere Over the Rainbow, sung by Vincent, to end the proceedings. Now that was a truly touching moment that will stay with me forever.

Victoria Price at Cinema MuseumWe capped off 2018 with our Yield Up the Mystery Weekender, which sought out places in Norfolk where the spiritual and the spooky connected. It took us from King’s Lynn to Norwich and onto Long Melford in Suffolk via the fabulous ruins of Castle Acre Priory, the original film location used in Tomb of Ligeia. Big thanks again to Graham Humphreys, who conjured up another fantastic souvenir poster for our attendees.

Photos: Gina Minichino

Yield Up the Mystery Weekender

***** COMING IN 2019 *****

So what’s coming up in 2019? Well Victoria and I are putting the final touches of our Amsterdam-Paris excursion that will take place from Saturday 25 May to Sunday 5 June. We will only be taking a small group, so if you want to join us, please sign up to the ESC Tours website. We shall release full pricing and a schedule in early January.

And if you have ever wanted to spend Halloween in New York, then you’re in luck as Victoria and I will also be conducting a guided tour of the Big Apple in late October/early November. We are currently putting that itinerary together also, which will have a suitably spooky theme, so expect some ghosts, ghouls, the headless horseman and a touch of Price and Poe.

SIGN UP HERE FOR MORE ABOUT ESC TOURS

I shall, of course, be conducting another Theatre of Blood walking tour in the summer and another Witchfinder General weekender in the autumn. I have also got a few suprises in store during 2019, with the first one coming in February.

This will be the release of a brand-new limited edition EP by London band The Core featuring Vincent Price reciting Edgar Allan Poe’s The Conqueror Worm (from a rare recording never released before). Only 300 copies will be available, and the EP features another amazing cover design by Graham Humphreys. Here’s a first look at it…

The Conqueror Worm by The Core and Vincent Price

This is going to be a must-have collectors item, so if you want to bag yourself a copy then do sign up to the Vincent Price Legacy UK newsletter (if you haven’t already) as subscribers will be first in the queue about the release and also will get first preference to join our other Legacy events.

SIGN UP TO THE VINCENT PRICE NEWSLETTER HERE

Thank you all for making 2018 such a Vin-tastic year. Here’s to an even better 2019!

Happy New Year everyone!

Peter Fuller
Curator
Vincent Price Legacy UK

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Tomb of Ligeia at Castle Acre | Mapping the Norfolk film location

Tomb of Ligeia posterDid you know that Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk was used as the primary location for 1964’s Tomb of Ligeia, Roger Corman’s last hurrah in American International Pictures’ Poe adaptations starring Vincent Price?

Founded in 1089 by Earl Warenne,  Castle Acre Priory served as a Cluniac monastery inhabited by some 30 monks until it was dissolved in 1537 under Henry VIII, when it was turned over to Sir Edward Coke, whose descendant, the Earl of Leicester, now owns the ruins (under the administration of English Heritage).

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle Acre
Castle Acre Priory, as it appeared in Tomb of Ligeia and as it looks today

Back in 1964, however, it famously stood in for the home Vincent Price’s tortured hero Verden Fell who, against his better judgement, takes a new wife – the headstrong Lady Rowena Trevanion (Elizabeth Shepherd), but is soon haunted by the spirit of his late first wife, the ungodly Lady Ligeia.

Roger Corman
Director Roger Corman sets up a shot at Castle Acre

Roger Corman and cinematographer Arthur Grant (who was also a regular Director of Photography for Hammer Films) make great use of the Priory ruins, which haven’t altered a bit over the past 50 years.

To point you in the right direction, I have used a map which is available at the ticket office attached to the Priory, and used the same numbering.

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle Acre

THE PRIORY
There are a few long shots of the Priory (taken from No3 in the map) used throughout the film, with the last one being a matt painting.

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle Acre

LIGEIA’S FUNERAL
Ligeia’s coffin is carried through (10), where the monks infimary chapel and ward originally stood, to where her tombstone stands (in an area that was the later infirmary). This is also where Rowena falls from her horse and where Verden and Christopher (John Westbrook) share some scenes.

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreTomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreTomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreTomb of Ligiea at Castle Acre

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle Acre
Fellow film location hunter Martin Skipper does his best Vincent Price impression

ROWENA’S ARRIVAL
Following the fox hunt, Rowena rides her horse from (11), the old latrine block, through (9), the former day room and dormitory, and into (10), the infimary, towards Ligeia’s tombstone. Christopher takes the same route following Rowena’s frightful first encounter with Verden.

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreVERDEN TO THE RESCUE
Rowena is carried by Verden through (6), where the Presbytery once stood, and (5), the Nave, and they stop at the main doorway in the west front (when Rowena takes off Verden glasses) befor heading into (17), the West Range and Prior’s lodging house. This area was used in a scene in which Rowena pays Verden a visit and a night-time shot when the couple return from their honeymoon.

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreTOMBSTONE DEFACING
Verden leads Christopher through (5), the main doorway, to show him Ligeia’s defaced grave at (10), the later infirmary, where he also voices his concerns that Ligeia’s spirit has returned.

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreTomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreTomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreTO THE BELL TOWER
Verden and Christopher run through an arch in (9), former the Chapter House, on hearing the tolling of the bells (after Rowena follows the black cat into the belfry).

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreAFTERNOON TEA
In a scene that always reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, Rowena and Christopher take tea outdoors in (7), originally the Cloister. In the distance, you’ll see a power line and a plyon, which are still in tact today.

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle Acre
The pylon you see in the film remains in place today, although its obscured by foliage

Tomb of Ligiea at Castle AcreIf you are ever in Norfolk, I do recommend a visit to Castle Acre. Of course, it wasn’t the only film location used in this classic Gothic horror – the others were Stonehenge, Polesden Lacey in Dorking, Surrey and St John’s Rectory in Wotton – and I’m looking forward to checking them out soon.

If you have any then and now pics (especially ones I may have missed) and you’d like to share them, then do get in touch. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this lovely signed pic of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Shepherd

 

 

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2018 Theatre of Blood London Locations Walking Tour

This year’s Theatre of Blood Locations Walking Tour, which took place on Saturday 28 July, was a resounding success (again), and I thank everyone for coming and enjoying the very long trek around London (which was greatly helped by some perfect summer weather).

Kensal Green Cemetery
Group shot by Andy Ellis

Kensal Green Cemetery
Photo by Mike Grant

This year, we started off at Kensal Green Cemetery, one of London’s Magnificient Seven –  where I conducted a tour around the Anglican chapel. It was here that the entire cast of Theatre of Blood assembled for the funeral of the first critic to meet their demise, George Maxwell (Michael Hordern), while Dennis Price’s Hector Snipe turned up as as corpse tied to the back of a horse. It is also the location of Lionheart’s memorial, and where Vincent Price’s Edward Lionheart disguises himself as gravedigger.

Kensal Green Cemetery
Photo by MIke Grant

Loudon RoadNext up was the site of the fencing school where Lionheart reveals himself to his nemesis, Peregrine Devlin (Ian Hendry), located in St John’s Wood, just a short stroll from Abbey Road Studios; then we had lunch on the banks of the river Thames in Hammersmith, where George Maxwell’s apartment lies in the shadow of the iconic Hammersmith Bridge.

Digby Mansions Hammersmith

Photo by Martin Skipper

Following lunch, we all took a bus ride to Dock Road in Brentford, where the site of Lionheart’s resurrection can still be viewed today above a working shipyard. Unfortunately, a couple of boats moored on the spot obscured the location  – but during my reccie a couple of weeks beforehand, I was lucky to photograph the area. However, a few of us did paid homage to the scene by downing some ‘Meths’.

Dock Road Brentford
You can see the bridge that our group is standing on can be glimpse in the top right hand corner of the film screen grab.

Dock Road Brentford
photo by Martin Skipper

Meths drinkersAfter a well-earned pint at a pub nearby (whose patrons were rather suprised by 30 people – many in our special Tour tees – descending on the place), we all headed to Putney – another key location as three key scenes where all shot in the area.

First up were the sites of the abandoned warehouse where Maxwell is butchered in a gory reenactment of the death of Julius Caesar and the Putney Hippodrome (which stood in for Lionheart’s lair, the Burbage Theatre). While both these buildings were demolished and replaced with a housing estate in 1975, our group had a lot of fun picking out the correct angles from some of the shots in the film.

Putney Hippodrome
inset photos by Mike Grant and Stuart Carroll

Weimar St Warehouse
This shot was taken last year, as I’d forgotten to get a shot this time round. But even after all these years, the black metal gate is still standing

Walker Place Shylock
Here’s me attempting to recreate Vincent’s Shylock pose on the same spot

And, a couple of streets away, we visited the exterior of the house that stood in for the home of Meredith Merridew (Robert Morley), where he is forced to eat his pet poodles baked in a pie, and where a comical police chase was staged.

Charlwood Road
Group shot by Andy Ellis

Next up, it was short bus ride to Wandsworth Town to visit The Causeway – the site of Devlin’s abduction and where Eric Sykes’ Sergeant Dogge has a deadly date with a speeding train.

The Causeway, Wandsworth
Group shot by Mike Grant

Our final destination was Vauxhall, where we took a close-up view of Devlin’s riverside apartment, Peninsula Heights (now the home of author and former politician Jeffrey Archer), were Lionheart takes his swan dive into the Thames. After one last group photo, we all said our goodbyes before some of us went for a well-earned dinner…

Peninsula HeightsVisiting all of the locations used in the film would really take two days, so each year we try to mix them up a bit, so it’s always an adventure and a great way to see parts of London even Londoners rarely visit. If you’d like to join us next year, then do sign up to the Vincent Price Legacy UK newsletter (click here to sign up) and join the Theatre of Blood Facebook Group (click here join).

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Witchfinder Weekender | Exploring the Suffolk film locations

On the weekend of the 21 and 22 of April, I hosted a trip to Suffolk in East Anglia for two days of exploring the original film locations used in the 1968 British cinema classic Witchfinder General, starring Vincent Price as  the eponymous Matthew Hopkins.

Blessed with the best weather of the year, our 15-seater van which we dubbed the Mystery Machine ambled through Lavenham, Kersey, Bury St Edmunds, Thetford, Orford, Dunwich and Manningtree, with a few other people joining us on their own steam over two days.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to Selene for taking the reigns of the Mystery Machine and to Graham Humphreys for the fantastic poster that he produced, and got signed by the film’s second big star, Ian Ogilvy, which attendees received on Sunday afternoon over some well-earned pints in Manningtree, at the very location where the real Matthew Hopkins conducted some of his evil deeds.

Witchfinder General_Graham Humphreys_Poster

Here’s a snapshot of the film locations that we covered.

Witchfinder General_Kersey

KERSEY
This quaint little village was the setting for the film’s opening sequence in which a woman is led through a side street to a field where she is lynched, while Vincent’s Matthew Hopkins looks on from a distance.

Over the years, trees have grown to obscure St Mary’s church which appears the opening title credits. The pathway where the villages drag the woman lies next to the former home of thriller writer Hammond Innes.

Witchfinder General_Kersey

Witchfinder General_Kersey

Witchfinder General_Kersey

RUSHFORD
The former Rushford College and St John’s Church in this quiet backwater proved the ideal location to double as John Lowes’ Brandeston church.

The scenes shot at the College (now a private residence… which we inadvertently trespassed) included Hopkins and his assistant John Stearne (Robert Russell) setting Lowes to running and pricking, and Sara (Hilary Dwyer) trying to secure her uncle’s freedom by giving herself to Hopkins; while the church was used for a scene in which Richard (Ogilvy) swears his oath of revenge over Sara’s rape at the hands of Stearne.

Witchfinder General_Rushford

Witchfinder General_RushfordWitchfinder General_Rushford

Witchfinder General_Rushford

Witchfinder General_RushfordWitchfinder General_Rushford

LONG MELFORD
The 15th-century Kentwell Hall doubled as the magistrate’s house where John Lowes’ trial by water and hanging took place. Visiting the stately manor also gave us an opportunity to recreate  recreate the infamous publicity shot of Vincent and director Michael Reeves, in which their difficult relations during the shoot is quite visible in their body language.

Witchfinder General_Kentwell Hall
This picture is courtesy of Stuart Carroll

Witchfinder General_Kentwell HallWitchfinder General_Kentwell HallWitchfinder General_Kentwell Hall

Witchfinder General_Kentwell Hall

IXWORTH
While many of the riding sequences were filmed on military ground which has restricted access today, one scene involved Richard and his platoon meeting with Oliver Cromwell (Patrick Wymark). This took place at Ixworth Mill, which today is a self-catering B&B. It is also situated not to far from Great Livermere, the childhood home of the ghost writer MR James.

Witchfinder General_IxworthWitchfinder General_Ixworth

LAVENHAM
The medieval town was used for a number of key sequences in the film, including when Hopkins oversees the burning of Elizabeth (Maggie Kimberly) in the town square where Sara lodges, and where Hopkins resides in a local pub. Another key scene takes place in a nearby Water Street, where Stearne informs Hopkins of Richard’s desire for revenge.

Guildhall, Market Place, Lavenham
Witchfinder General_LavenhamWitchfinder General_LavenhamWitchfinder General_LavenhamWitchfinder General_LavenhamWitchfinder General_LavenhamWitchfinder General_LavenhamWitchfinder General_Lavenham Little Hall, Lavenham
This building doubled as the rooming houses for both Sara and Hopkins. We were very excited to find that little has changed in the room used for Hopkins’ bedroom, but we also discovered that while the outside of the building was used for Sara looking out a window, the interior was not. This was, in fact, a set constructed in an aircraft hangar in Thetford.

Witchfinder General_Little_HallWitcfinder General_Little HallWitcfinder General_Little Hall

Water Street, Lavenham
This street, around the corner from the Guildhall, is where Stearne runs to warn Hopkins and where Hopkins spies Sara across the road.

Witchfinder General_Water Street_LavenhamWitchfinder General_Water Street_Lavenham

Witchfinder General_Water Street_Lavenham
This photo is courtesy of Stuart Carroll

ORFORD CASTLE
The cellar of this 11th-century keep was used for the bloody climax in which Hopkins is shot by Nicky Henson’s Trooper and then hacked to death by a vengeful Richard. English Heritage are proud of its film legacy and even include it on their audio tour, with some Kensington gore thrown in for good measure.

Witchfinder General_Orford_Castle Witchfinder General_Orford_Castle Witchfinder General_Orford_Castle Witchfinder General_Orford_Castle Witchfinder General_Orford_Castle

DUNWICH
It was quite a trek (over an hour) to drive to the coast where the scenes of Richard and his platoon meeting a fisherman where shot. But on our arrival, we discovered we were in the wrong place. One of our group has now found the correct location, the Seven Sisters cliffs on the Sussex coast. So another outing is in the offing.

WIitchfinder General_Dunwich

BURY ST EDMUNDS
The Angel hotel in Bury St Edmunds is where the cast and crew stayed while filming. Vincent stayed in room 215, the Charles Dickens suite, which still contains the bed that the writer slept in. The bar is where he got drunk with Nicky Henson and the rest of the cast, and the kitchen is where he rustled up pasta for the crew.

The Angel_Bury St Edmunds

MANNINGTREE
The real Matthew Hopkins operated many of his dark deeds in Manningtree. So, on our return to London, we stopped off at The Red Lion, where, in 1644, eight local women were suspected of witchcraft and into the prison, which used to sit on the land to the right of the pub.

witchfinder_general-manningtree

Thanks for reading… If you fancy joining us for another tour in 2019… then please do sign up to the Vincent Price Legacy UK newsletter and join the Facebook page.

For more pictures about the Witchfinder Weekender, check out the dedicated Facebook Group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/112107102984052/

 

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Cooking With Columbo | The Johnny Cash Chili Bowl Cook-along

Cooking with Columbo20 February marks the 50th anniversary of Prescription Murder – the first pilot episode of Columbo, the US murder mystery series starring Peter Falk as the raincoat-wearing sleuth that ended up running for 10 seasons until 2004. And what better way to celebrate than with the launch of a fantastic new culinary tome from Silver Screen Suppers’ Jenny Hammerton, the author of the Cooking with Joan Crawford Cookbook.

Cooking with Columbo: Suppers with the Shambling Sleuth is a treasury of 100 recipes, collected from Peter and his many co-stars, served up episode by episode alongside a selection of tasty side dishes and kitchen tested tips.

To accompany the book’s release, Jenny has been hosting the Columbo Bowl Chili Cook-Along (which ends on 20 February and everyone is invited to join in so check it out here), in which foodie fans are whipping up a chili dish based on a recipe by country and western star Johnny Cash (he was the guest in the 1974 episode Swan Song).

Chili was a big favourite of Columbo’s; although he got quite the surprise when Johnny’s version in the episode turned out to be made from squirrel meat. Thankfully Jenny asked everyone to either use beef (or try out the vegetarian version) for the cook-along. I opted for the former and you can see the results that I made live for the cook-along in the video below. Plus, I’ve included the recipe at the bottom on this post.

So what’s the Vincent Price link? Well, not only was Vinnie a big foodie himself (and the author of a number of cookbooks), he was also one of the many guest stars and appeared in Lovely But Lethal alongside Vera Miles, whose recipe appears in the book. Jenny has kindly provided that extract and I’ll be doing a post real soon.

In the meantime, here’s Johnny’s Chili recipe – and as it calls for beer as one of the ingredients, I have of course used a bottle of Hopdaemon’s Vincent Price Ale: Black Cat.

Johnny Cash ChiliJohnny Cash’s Chili
1 lb / 450g ground/minced venison (if available) or ground/minced beef (chuck or sirloin)
1/2 lb / 225g venison steaks (if available) or beef steaks, such as sirloin, or a rump roast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 and 1/2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon canola/rapeseed oil
24 oz / 680g canned tomatoes
1 large green bell pepper
1/2 large red bell pepper
2.5 jalapeño peppers (optional)
1/2 habanero pepper (optional)
1 packet McCormick’s Mild Chili Seasoning Mix (or your favorite brand)
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup / 32g chili powder (New Mexico chili powder if available)
1/6 cup / 21g cumin
1/2 tablespoon sage
3/4 teaspoon oregano
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
15 oz / 400g can black beans, drained
15 oz / 400g can pinto beans, drained
15 oz / 400g can chili beans/kidney beans in chili sauce
12 oz / 340g can kidney beans, drained*
6 oz / 170ml beer
1/8 cup / 25g sugar
A handful of self-rising cornmeal*

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the steak in the oil in batches, draining off some of the fat if necessary. Remove from the heat and set aside. In a separate frying pan, brown the ground meat over medium-high heat. Drain off the fat and set meat aside.

With the oil remaining in the pot, brown half the onions and garlic over medium heat until they are caramelized. Now add the well-drained ground beef and steak. Stir and heat it all up. Add the cans of tomatoes, the bell peppers, hot peppers (if using), and the remainder of the onions and garlic. Heat to a brisk simmer, stirring often.

John Carter Cash says that his dad would normally add the spices in the following order, first the chili packet, followed by some salt and black pepper, chili powder, cumin, sage, oregano, and cayenne pepper. John advises tasting the chili and once the spicing it is to your liking, drain the cans of beans and add to the mixture. Now taste again, as the beans mellow the flavor of the chili. Once the chili is to your taste, pour in the bottle of beer. Stir well. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sugar to your taste. Simmer, covered, for at least another 30 minutes, making sure to stir so the chili does not burn. Now add the cornmeal and stir in.

* If self-rising cornmeal is unavailable, you can make it yourself. Just combine 1 cup / 120g of cornmeal, 1/3 cup / 40g all-purpose/plain flour, 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Put the leftover mix in a sealed container and save for your next batch of Johnny Cash chili.
Serves 6

 

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Oakley Court Hotel | A Theatre of Blood tour of the spiritual home of classic British Horror in Windsor

Vincent Price Legacy UK at Oakley CourtFor the past three years, I have been conducting tours of the many London locations used in Theatre of Blood with the assistance of Mike Grant, who hosts the Theatre of Blood Facebook group page, and it has become a fantastic day out criss-crossing London with fans of the black comedy starring Vincent Price and some of Britain’s finest thespians.

From Kensal Green Cemetery to the banks of the Thames in Putney, we have uncovered nearly ever single location used, but two have eluded us – the infamous decapitation scene in which Arthur Lowe loses his head, and a scene in which one of the meths drinkers is interrogated.

Thanks to some expert sleuthing from Rick Squires, who curates the Vincent Price Exhibit, we learned that Lowe’s scenes were shot in Room 103 at Oakley Court in Windsor: a suitably evocative gothic mansion that has been used in many a classic British horror (and non-horror) film, with quite a few by Hammer (whose Bray Film Studios were situated just down the road), as well as Richard O’Brien’s cult hit, Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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With that knowledge, I decided to organise a day out to Oakley Court, with the added attraction of hiring boats to view what is left of Bray Film Studios which is currently lying derelict, awaiting planning permission to be turned into luxury apartments. But the big surprise for those attending was that they would be able to view the infamous Room 103.

Thanks to Andy Ellis, a dedicated film location expert who had booked the room for the night, our group were able to access the room, where much of the furniture has not changed for over 40 years.

The group also got a further surprise when Andy donned scrubs to give his rendition of Vincent Price’s Dr Hypo – aka Edward Lionheart doing Shakespeare’s Cymberline as it had never been played before. And it also gave me a chance to play dead…

Oakley Court Hotel

Dr HypoIt turned out to be a great day – despite the typical British summer weather (yes, it was wet) – where we got to explore a place that has a deep connection with British film in general. 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.

The outpouring of thank you’s on the Theatre of Blood and Vincent Price Legacy UK Facebook pages following the day has been really touching and the pictures that were taken are a real hoot (check them out by clicking on the photos, and also here).

Below are a handful of comments which I am hugely thankful for as they really make organising these events so worthwhile. Thank you everyone!

THANK YOU’S…
‘A mind blowing day thanks for organising it Peter!’ Merlyn Roberts

‘The best Saturday this year!!!’ Jason D. Brawn

‘An amazing day spent with the most awesome friends’ Alan Hoare 

‘It was a fantastic day! Thanks Pete and Andy’ Roni Romero 

‘Wow!!! We had such a fantastic day yesterday!!! Thank you so much to all the amazing people there, who made it very special. Most of all Peter Fuller for organising everything for us! you are a complete gent!!!’ Selene Paxton-Brooks

‘Many, many thanks to Peter and Andy for a splendid day and everyone else for being so very friendly and sporting on my first legacy jaunt. Oakley Court well surpassed my expectations – it’s really stunning and still has a powerfully magic effect. The interior wasn’t too messed around with either – it still has a grand gothic style & ambience, while Room 103 is truly to die for! Great to see Bray – dog-eared as it is – and explore film locations via Windsor alleyways.’ Paul Houghton

Thank you so much Andy, a great day and your film knowledge is inspirational. Room 103 was an absolute hoot.’ Stuart Carroll

AND A WORD FROM ANDY…
‘I’d like to say a huge thank-you to all the people involved in making last Saturday so special. I had an awesome time, and have masses of very happy memories (and photos!). It was great to meet old and new friends, and to finally see some people who have only been Facebook Friends up till now, and to capture yet more location shots (particularly in rooms that are not always accessible). I loved the boat trip to Bray Studios and really enjoyed showing fellow fans around, especially inside room 103. The biggest thanks have to go to Peter – if you hadn’t found the publicity shot of VP outside the hotel, we’d never have discovered the Oakley Court bedroom (via Rick Squires’ detective work), and your planning the whole event and organisation of the itinerary, the transport, boat hire and room rota were so efficient.’ Andy Ellis

If you’d like to join us on any future Vincent Price Legacy UK tours, then do sign up to the mailing list here: http://bit.ly/2uWRtp0

 

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A Priceless Birthday Weekend | Celebrating Vincent Price’s 106th anniversary

What a ‘Priceless’ Bank Holiday weekend we’ve just had celebrating Vincent Price’s 106th anniversary with his daughter, Victoria Price, flying in from the US to spend it with us.

Victoria Price at Portobello Road Markets Vincent Price and Jane Asher in Portobello Road MarketsFirst up, on Vincent’s actual birthday (27 May), a small group of fans joined Victoria and myself took a stroll through Portobello Markets (just as Vincent did back in the 1960s when he was filming Masque of the Red Death), finishing with an al fresco Spanish lunch in the sunshine.

Then it was off to Vincent’s favourite London museum, the V&A, which is a treasure trove of art, antiques, fashion, furniture and ephemera. Boy, were we all tired after that…

Sunday found Victoria and I bringing a slice of Vincent Price to Birmingham’s wonderful Electric Cinema (the UK’s oldest working cinema) for a packed-out event where Annabel from Conjurer’s Kitchen presented the audience with a spectacular cake honouring Vincent’s horror classics and topped with a working pendulum (which was won by one of the guests – called Vincent).

Vincent Price's 106th Birthday Cake

Victoria Price at Electric Cinema, Birmingham

Electric Cinema, Birmingham

Electric Cinema, BirminghamWe also showed a special clip show that honoured Birmingham’s love of curry, with a video of Vincent demonstrating how to make a curry from scratch. You can watch it here…

North by Northwest, LondonOn Tuesday evening we held a special evening at the Hitchcock-themed North by Northwest pub in Islington. It’s a fab venue filled with posters and prop replicas from Hitchcock’s films – including a life-size Norma Bates.

North by Northwest, LondonIt was also the perfect location to honour the Masters of Suspense and Menace, so we kicked off with a screening of The Perfect Crime, an episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV show in which Vincent guest starred, while everyone tucked into some delicious pub grub with a menu that had been given a Vincent Price makeover.

Victoria Price at North by Northwest, London

The audience were then treated to some never-before-seen clips, courtesy of my private collection, and a wonderful presentation by Victoria about her dad’s legacy, which has led to the two of us creating a new venture: ESC Tours.

If you’d like to know more about ESC Tours and sign up to our mailing list, then head over to the website: CLICK HERE

Victoria Price at North by Northwest, LondonIf you’d like to join us next time, or keep up to date with all the project that we are doing to keep Vincent’s legacy alive and relevant, then do sign up to our Vincent Price Legacy UK mailing list, as well: CLICK HERE

Finally, here’s just some super comments about the events we hosted this past weekend. Thank you everyone for coming and making this so special.

Peter Fuller
Curator, Vincent Price Legacy UK

THANK YOU…
Thanks so much for the evening Liz Hopkins. Will stay with me. Thank you Peter Fuller for squeezing us in, a huge success! What an inspirational talk by Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria Price. What a human being Vincent was and indeed his daughter is.’ Matthew Hopkins

It was brilliant – thank you for organising another great event!!!!Selene Paxton-Brooks

Such a moving and inspirational talk from Victoria Price.Julia Morgan

‘A fantastic evening with lots of laughter!’ 😁 Merlyn Roberts

‘Loved every moment of it’ Jason D. Brawn

‘A marvellous affair’ Pete McDonnell

‘Thanks Peter, was wonderful! The past couple of days have been pretty special’ 🙂 Stuart Carroll

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Happy Birthday to Vincent Price!

Today, 27 May 2017, marks the 106th birthday of Vincent Price. So, let’s all raise a toast to the actor, art lover, Anglophile and all-round legend…

Here in the UK, The Vincent Price Legacy UK will be celebrating throughout the Bank Holiday weekend with two very special events happening – one in Birmingham on Sunday and another in London on Tuesday. The London event is sold out, but there is a handful of tickets left for Birmingham. GET THEM HERE

But today, we shall be following in Vincent’s footsteps and doing something that he would have loved… a trip to Portobello Road Market, the V&A and the British Museum.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Here’s some super pics of Vincent at Portobello Road with Jane Asher, his co-star in 1964’s Masque of the Red Death.

Vincent Price and Jane Asher in Portobello Road MarketsVincent Price and Jane Asher in Portobello Road Markets Vincent Price and Jane Asher in Portobello Road MarketsVincent Price and Jane Asher in Portobello Road Markets

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