Secret Ceremony

Date: 1968
Director: Joseph Losey
Production Company: Universal Pictures, World Film Services

Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Mia Farrow, Robert Mitchum, Peggy Ashcroft
Location(s): London, Zuid-Holland (Netherlands)

Region(s): ,


A middle-aged prostitute starts to live with a mysterious young woman after being mistaken for her recently deceased mother.

Additional Information:

Screen captures by Phil Wilkinson with original research by Simon James

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The film opens with a shot of the rear aspect of Debenham House in Holland Park, London W14.

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I a less prosperous part of town, a front door slams shut before prostitute Leonora takes off her blonde wig as a client leaves.

The penniless Leonora Grabowski (Elizabeth Taylor) hails an approaching bus. Facing Westbourne Park Road from Chepstow Road in London W2, spotted by David Neicho.

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Tris provides this comparison shot of the location now.

The number 27 stops for the middle-aged woman to board. Looking towards the junction of Chepstow Road and Westbourne Park Road.

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The lame location that David Neicho identified.

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Cut to a shot of Leonora's destination. Outside The Old England public house on Lord Hill’s Road W2 with St. Mary Magdalene church prominent in the background.

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As Leonora coughs, a Young Woman rises from her seat and moves towards her.

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Seeing a resemblance to her deceased mother, the Stranger (Mia Farrow) sits next to Leonora.

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With the tearful Girl making her feel uncomfortable, Leonora continues to ignore her as the bus approaches the stop near the church. St. Mary Magdalene church with Princethorpe House to the extreme left.

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Having done her best to ignore the Stranger, Leonora steps off the bus. We’ve been to this area many times before in ‘Robbery’, ‘The Blue Lamp’, ‘Innocent Meeting', 'The Boys’, ‘Alfie Darling’, ‘The Sandwich Man’ and ‘Count Five and Die’.

The young woman, named Cenci, also alights but stays hidden as Leonora walks towards the church. Lord Hills Road with Dartington House on the new Rowington Close in the left background.

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They're still digging up the road beside the church!

Keeping a safe distance, Cenci follows when Leonora turns a corner. Alongside St. Mary Magdalene church on Rowington Close, the former Cirencester Street.

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The restricted pavement next to the church is reminiscent of the day that filming took place.

As a bell tolls, the mentally unstable Cenci sees Leonora enter the church. St. Mary Magdalene church in W2.

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Poor old Jesus has disappeared behind a piece of wire fencing!!

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Having watched a Christening whilst inside the church, Leonora makes her way to the grave of her daughter Judith.

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The grieving mother lays flowers on the grave as Cenci appears behind her.

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Leonora rises to see Cenci standing and is reminded of Judith.

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The lonely Cenci approaches and the two link arms before leaving the graveyard together.

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The two approach a large house and Cenci leads Leonora through the gate. Debenham House on Addison Road in Holland Park, London W14.

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As they walk along a passageway towards the front door of the house, Cenci tells Leonora to wait. Debenham House, also known as Peacock House, was built by architect Halsey Ricardo.

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Disappearing through a back door, Cenci soon reappears when she opens the front door and let Leonora inside. The entrance to Debenham House.

Soon after the two women begin living together, Cenci’s stepfather Albert (Robert Mitchum) arrives at the house. Looking through the fence on Addison Road towards the Grade I listed Debenham House.

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A longer shot of the same building.

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After her Aunts pay a visit and attempt to take some of her mother's belongings, Cenci walks through the garden. Debenham House on Addison Road was designed for department store owner Ernest Ridley Debenham.

Leaving Leonora in the house, Cenci opens the gate to go to the bank. The interior of Debenham House features in ‘The Wings of the Dove’ as well as several television productions.

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The gate has been replaced with a more imposingly private one but one can still peer in. SJ.

Swinging her handbag, the young woman skips her way along the street. Facing southward on Addison Road W14.

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A similar view now. SJ.

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When the doorbell rings, Leonora looks out of a window to see Albert bringing flowers for his wife Margaret. This appears to be the back garden of Debenham House.

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Cenci stops chopping wood in the yard and follows Leonora as she makes her way to the front gate. The driveway of Debenham House in Holland Park.

Leonora leaves to visit Cenci's Aunts after several items go missing from the house. Looking onto Addison Road from the driveway of Debenham House.

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A reversed shot as our sleuth, unlike Robert Mitchum, couldn't gain access.

A bus drops Leonora across the street from the antiques shop run by Hilda and Hannah. Currently a restaurant, Adrian Grepnold remembers when this was an antique shop at the corner of St. Stephen's Mews and Chepstow Road in W2 and adds “There were workshops close by and my father, driving by around this time, used to say 'that's where they make the antiques for the Portobello.'”

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The same location snapped by SJ.

Leonora enters the shop where Margaret's sisters divulge that Cenci is heiress to the Engelhard fortune. Looking out onto Chepstow Road and the junction with St. Stephen's Gardens located by Adrian Grepnold.

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From the doorway of the shop, now a restaurant. SJ.

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Carrying flowers, Albert walks with Hilda (Pamela Brown) and Hannah (Peggy Ashcroft) towards Margaret's burial site. All Souls Cemetery in Kensal Green in W10.

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In front of the family monument Albert complains about his wife's gravestone. The monument to the Molyneux Family in Kensal Green’s All Souls Cemetery.

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As the Piano Tuner works inside, the young people that have been cleaning the house are served afternoon tea. The grounds at the rear of Debenham House.

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Masquerading as Mrs. Engelhard, Leonora takes Cenci on holiday. Looking towards Huis ter Duin on Astrid Boulevard in Noordwijk aan Zee, Zuid-Holland. A large part of the property was destroyed by fire in 1990 after which the hotel was rebuilt and expanded.

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Albert confronts Leonora. The beach below Huis ter Duin on Astrid Boulevard in Noordwijk aan Zee

The two women return to England. Debenham House on Addison Road W14.

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From a similar viewpoint.

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Smoking a cigarette, Cenci walks through the garden. The rear of Debenham House in Holland Park.

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The camera follows the young woman through the grounds.

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The shot pans to reveal more of the back garden at Debenham House and the rear of properties on Abbotsbury Road in London W14.

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Cenci lays flowers at her mother's grave before returning home to take an overdose. All Souls Cemetery, Kensal Green in London W10.