Paddington Bear has been one of the world’s greatest children’s literature characters since his introduction in 1958. The protagonist of countless books, cartoon series, and films, this clumsy but well-meaning bear easily charms his way into the hearts of readers and his fictional neighbors. More recently, two films featuring Ben Whishaw as the title character have been released, and both were filmed in London, where the books take place. Of course, this means that you can now visit several locations important to Paddington Bear, and we have identified ten such places. If you have any you’d like to add below our own, please do so in the comments.
We begin where it began. Selfridges is one of London’s major department stores, and it is reportedly here where BBC Cameraman Michael Bond first saw a lonely stuffed bear on a shelf and decided to take it home to his wife. The bear would give birth to the idea for Bond’s first book, A Bear Named Paddington.
And now to Paddington’s namesake. This railway station opened in 1838 and was the closest Underground station to Bond’s home. In coming up with the character of Paddington, Michael Bond was reminded of Jewish refugee children who came through the station on the advent of World War II and chose to name the character after the station. Today, there is a bronze statue dedicated to the character and a store selling all manner of Paddington merchandise.
32 Chalot Crescent
The Brown family takes Paddington home with them, which in the film is the fictional neighborhood of 32 Windsor Gardens in Notting Hill. Of course, the real house can be found at 32 Chalot Crescent near Primrose Hill. Naturally, the surrounding homes are filled with Paddington’s neighbors (mostly seen in the sequel), including Mr. Curry across the street.
86 Portobello Road
Throughout the books and into the films, one of Paddington’s greatest friends is Mr. Gruber, the Hungarian owner of a nearby antique shop who sympathizes with the bear’s immigrant status. In the films, Mr. Gruber’s shop is located at 86 Portobello Road, which is also the home to the real-life Alice’s Antique Shop. It’s not as fantastical inside as Mr. Gruber’s, but it’s still full of interesting items and a few nods to its famous film status.
The Reform Club
This one may be a bit tricky as the Reform Club is one of the oldest and most exclusive private clubs in London. However, you might be able to enter the lobby which was used as the lobby of the Geographer’s Guild that Paddington and Mr. Brown visit to find information on the adventure who first encountered Paddington’s family in Darkest Peru.
Natural History Museum
While the famous adventurer is no longer around by the time the movie takes place, his daughter is alive and serves as the main antagonist of the first movie. She bases herself out of London’s famous Natural History Museum, where she stuffs animals for the museum’s displays. A good bit of the film’s final confrontation takes place here as well.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
When the Brown family visits St. Paul’s Cathedral in Paddington 2, the film actually got permission to shut down the church to visitors so it could film inside. There, the family encounters a clue to earning Paddington’s freedom after he was falsely accused of theft, courtesy of the security guard who also appeared in the first movie (played by screenwriter/actor Simon Farnaby).
When Paddington takes a series of odd jobs to pay for a birthday present for his Aunt Lucy, one of these professions is a window cleaner. Paddington naturally takes his job quite seriously, even when it includes cleaning the windows of London’s tallest skyscraper. There’s plenty to visit at the Shard and to have an idea of what cleaning it must be like, you can buy a ticket for one of the tower’s observation decks, which offer the highest views of London.
As Paddington tries to chase after a thief from Mr. Gruber’s shop, their path takes them down the Camden Canal. This part of London that runs through Camden is home to a gorgeous walk that you’ll want to take your time visiting. The canal is lined with beautiful canal boats and a number of shops and restaurants, as well as the London Canal Museum.
Hampton Court Maze
Not a location from the films, Hampton Court Palace’s maze actually features in the book Paddington and the Marmalade Maze. In the book, Paddington and Mr. Gruber visit Hampton Court Palace and Paddington unintentionally causes a group of tourists to get lost in the palace maze.