“Bryce, John Bryce.” She wrote busily. “Permanent address?” “Care of the Royal Zoological Society, Regent’s Park, London, England.” “Profession.” “Ornithologist.”
Dr No, Chapter 13
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of animals and their habitats. In 1829, King George IV gave the society a Royal Charter.
James Bond uses the ZSL as part of his cover story in Dr No, when he and Honey Rider arrive in the reception area of the Dr’s headquarters on Crab Key. Bond lists his next-of-kin as M (using his real name), describing him as his Uncle, and giving his address as Managing Director, Universal Export, Regent’s Park, London.
Thus, the Regent’s Park location of the Zoological Society and the London zoo, is conveniently located near Bond’s office in the secret service building in Regent’s park.
A favorite restaurant of Ian Fleming while in London was Scott’s. During Fleming’s time it was located at 18-20 Coventry Street in Piccadilly Circus in Westminster. Four years after Fleming’s death, the restaurant moved to its current location on Mount Street in Mayfair.
Fleming went to Scott’s for lunch for many years, including during WWII when he was working for Naval Intelligence. It was the site of one of his more humorous plots. Fleming took captured German U-boat officers to Scott’s to try and get them drunk so that they would perhaps spill some intelligence.
The waiter heard the group talking in fluent German and telephoned Scotland Yard. The incident caused much amusement among the British Intelligence community. Fleming’s boss, Admiral Godfrey however, was not among those amused.
When Fleming began writing the James Bond stories, he made several references to Scott’s, putting his character in the very same table which Fleming preferred himself.
In Moonraker, Bond has a date to meet Gala Brand in the city. He heads to Scott’s and waits:
Bond sat at his favourite restaurant table in London, the right-hand corner table for two on the first floor, and watched the people and traffic in Piccadilly and down the Haymarket.
“I’ll take you to Scotts’ and we’ll have some of their dressed crab and a pint of black velvet.”
In You Only Live Twice, Bond is happy to have finally gotten an assignment from M, and as he exits M’s office (with his new number; 7777) he has a request for Miss Moneypenny:
Bond said, ‘Be an angel, Penny and ring down to Mary and tell her she’s got to get out of whatever she’s doing tonight. I’m taking her our to dinner. Scotts. Tell her we’ll have our first roast grouse of the year and pink champagne. Celebration.’
Originally an Oyster House, Scott’s remains one of the top seafood restaurants in the city
We’ve actually covered much of the Moonraker novel already here. There are few references and locations, particularly around the Dover area that are worthy of mention that haven’t been posted yet. I’m going to wrap several of them up into one post here:
On his way to report in on his new assignment with Sir Hugo Drax, Bond is motoring along.
Well, thought Bond, accelerating down the straight stretch of road past Chilham Castle, he could see that picture too, and if he was going to work with the man, he must adjust himself to the heroic version.
It’s been speculated that this establishment, which is where poor Major Talon met his end, and where James Bond followed up at for a drink and chat with the proprietor, was based on The Swingate Inn, which is still there.
After James Bond and Gala Brand regain their wits after having a cliff face pushed down on them, they decide on a plan – head to the Granville for further clean up and recovery, before heading back to Drax’s house.
They both felt keyed up and in high spirits. A hot bath and an hour’s rest at the accommodating Granville had been followed by two stiff brandies-and-sodas for Gala and three for Bond followed by delicious fried soles and Welsh rarebits and coffee.
The Granville was the Granville Hotel, a long-time landmark in St Margaret’s which was demolished in 1996.
Much of the action in Moonraker takes place in the county of Kent, around the town of Dover, in the South-East corner of England.
Sir Hugo Drax’s rocket base on is on the edge of the cliffs between Dover and Deal. The cliffs of course, are the famous White Cliffs of Dover.
During their afternoon together, James Bond and Gala Brand head down to the bottom of cliffs.
To their left the carpet of green turf, bright with small wildflowers, sloped gradually down to the long pebble beaches of Walmer and Deal, which curved off towards Sandwich and the Bay.
They walked along in Silence until they came to the two-mile stretch of shingle that runs at low tide beneath the towering white cliffs of St. Margaret’s Bay.
While there, a cliff face falls on them.
It is worth noting that at the time in which he wrote Moonraker Ian Fleming owned a house at the end of St Margaret’s Bay called White Cliffs. Thus, he was intimately familiar with all the locales described in the story.
Called “The Loveliest Castle In the World, Leeds Castle has been around in some form since 1119.
He was touching ninety-five on the straight just before the entrance to Leeds Castle when great lights were suddenly switched on behind him and a four-tone windhorn sounded its impudent ‘pom-pim-pom-pam’ almost in his ear.
He watched affectionately as the Alfa wagged its tail in the S-bend abreast of Leeds Castle and then howled off on the long wide road towards the distant Charing-fork.
As you can see in the map above, the A20 does have a straightaway near the entrance and an S-bend further on down, just as described by Fleming.
The day before the Moonraker launch, Sir Hugo Drax takes Gala Brand and Krebs into London for some last-minute preparations. On the way, Miss Brand is determined to get a look at Sir Hugo’s notebook which he keeps in his pocket to check for herself the figures that he enters into it each day.
She manages to pick the notebook from Drax’s hip pocket, and get it into her coat. Now she needs him to stop the car so she can get out and take a look at it.
A garage would be dangerous. He might decide to fill up with petrol. And perhaps he also carried his money in his hip-pocket. But was there an hotel? Yes, she remembered, the Thomas Wyatt just outside Maidstone. And it had no petrol pumps. She started to fidget slightly. She pulled the coat back on to her lap. She cleared her throat.
The Thomas Wyatt hotel is still there, though now the part which was the inn back then is now a pub, with a Premier Inn attached to it.
The car swerved up to the front of the inn and stopped with a jerk. “Hurry up. Hurry up,” said Drax as Gala, leaving the door of the car open, sped obediently across the gravel, her coat with its precious secret held tightly in front of her body.