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James Bond: Your ultimate guide to 007's links to Kent as No Time To Die finally hits cinemas on September 30


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James Bond fever is gripping the nation as the latest blockbuster movie, No Time To Die, finally hits the big screen - and for fans old and new, there is nowhere quite like Kent for links to the secret agent.

From the stomping ground of his creator, to the origin of his famous 007 code name, to film locations and even the village where the character grew up - they can all be found right here.

Bond is back - and probably dreaming of Kent. Picture: Nicola Dove/Danjaq, LLC and MGM
Bond is back - and probably dreaming of Kent. Picture: Nicola Dove/Danjaq, LLC and MGM

A special self-guided tour has even recently been announced for some of the links.

So while there may be No Time To Die, there's also no time to waste...

It's well known the author of the original James Bond books, Ian Fleming, had a soft spot for the county.

Born in 1908, he discovered the delights of the Royal St George's Golf Club in Sandwich during the 1930s, enjoying the tranquillity and challenge the course offered.

Daniel Craig makes his final appearance as 007 in No Time To Die. Picture: Nicola Dove/2020 Danjaq, LLC and MGM
Daniel Craig makes his final appearance as 007 in No Time To Die. Picture: Nicola Dove/2020 Danjaq, LLC and MGM

In the book Goldfinger, it is the clear inspiration for Royal St Mark's where Bond has his famous round with the super villain.

Apparently he didn't want to name the club directly to prevent his peaceful refuge from being swamped by Bond fans who were growing in number after the first movie's release, Dr No, in 1962.

Royal St George's - once Ian Fleming's favourite retreat, today best known as a host to golf's The Open. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Royal St George's - once Ian Fleming's favourite retreat, today best known as a host to golf's The Open. Picture: Barry Goodwin

In a further nod to his golfing chums, he changed the name of club pros Albert and Cyril Whiting to Alfred and Cecil Blacking for use in the novel. In real life, Cyril Whiting passed away last November, at the age of 96.

Talking of Goldfinger, Fleming has the crook's factory, Thanet Alloys, based in Reculver, while Bond himself holes himself up in a hotel in Ramsgate while investigating Auric Goldfinger's activities.

James Bond author Ian Fleming. Picture: Philip Young
James Bond author Ian Fleming. Picture: Philip Young

The book also nods towards Lydd Airport - where Bond follows Goldfinger to.

Kent certainly gets its fair share of mentions in the original books.

In The Man With The Golden Gun - published after Fleming's death - Bond is depicted trying out a police shooting range in Maidstone, while Moonraker sees Bond racing through "the clear road by Chilham and Canterbury", taking him past Chilham Castle, before heading down the name-checked Old Dover Road in the cathedral city.

Auric Goldfinger ran a factory in Reculver, according to Ian Fleming's original novel. Picture: Chris Davey
Auric Goldfinger ran a factory in Reculver, according to Ian Fleming's original novel. Picture: Chris Davey

So enamoured by the county was the author, he snapped up a striking white seafront property - 'White Cliffs' - at St Margaret's Bay, near Dover, from his chum Noel Coward - the celebrated playwright.

Coward, who also had a property on Romney Marsh - the 17th century Goldenhurst Farm in Aldington - handed over the lease to Fleming in 1951 which the Bond creator used as a weekend retreat until 1958.

But even after giving up the home, he was a regular visitor to the county.

Legend has it - although this remains a topic of much debate among fans - that the famous 007 code name was taken from the number of the bus which operated from London to Dover. It is still used by National Express which now operates the route.

But then Bond - as well as Fleming - had roots in the county.

Author Ian Fleming's beach house in St Margaret's Bay, which he had in the 1950s. Picture from Paul Richardson
Author Ian Fleming's beach house in St Margaret's Bay, which he had in the 1950s. Picture from Paul Richardson

In the original books, after Bond's parents are killed in a mountain climbing accident near the French ski resort of Chamonix, the 11-year-old orphan is sent to live with his aunt, Charmain Bond. She lives in the village of Pett Bottom, near Canterbury.

In fact, her small cottage is sat beside "the attractive Duck Inn" - a cottage which today forms part of the pub.

The Duck Inn - where Ian Fleming penned a Bond thriller and where Bond himself grew up
The Duck Inn - where Ian Fleming penned a Bond thriller and where Bond himself grew up

And Fleming was rather partial to the Duck Inn - penning parts of You Only Live Twice here in 1964 - his 11th Bond volume and the last to be published in his lifetime.

There's a blue plaque outside the pub to mark its connection.

It was later that same year he was due to become captain of his beloved golf club.

The blue plaque in honour of Ian Fleming on the outside of the The Duck Inn, Pett Bottom
The blue plaque in honour of Ian Fleming on the outside of the The Duck Inn, Pett Bottom

However, after suffering a heart attack in 1961, the heavy smoker and drinker had a second shortly after returning from the club, where he had dined with friends, to a hotel in Canterbury.

He did not recover - despite being able to apologise to the ambulance crew en route to the hospital - and died at the Kent & Canterbury Hospital on August 12, 1964 - the date of his son Casper's 12th birthday.

Fleming's passing would not end the links to the county though.

Did you know, for example, former Ashford schoolboy Bob Holness - better known in later life as the host of quiz show Blockbusters - starred as Bond before Sean Connery had ever been offered the role.

In fact he was only the second person ever to portray the agent for a radio production of Moonraker for SABC's Springbok Radio in South Africa - where he lived for a period - in 1955. (He was beaten to the crown of being the very first by US actor Barry Nelson who appeared Bond in a 1954 TV special in the States based around Casino Royale. A version which saw Bond referred to as 'Jimmy' and working for the US secret service. Sacrilege.)

'I'll have a 007 please Bob' - Bob Holness was one of the first to portray Bond
'I'll have a 007 please Bob' - Bob Holness was one of the first to portray Bond

Speaking of which, scenes from the first big screen outing of that book - which was more spoof than serious - were filmed in the county.

Starring David Niven as a Bond coming out of retirement, the 1967 movie saw scenes at Maidstone's Mereworth Castle - doubling-up as Bond's home. The rights to the film were snapped by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1999 and it was turned into a proper 007 flick in 2006 - marking the first appearance by Daniel Craig in the lead role.

Meanwhile, the eagle-eyed may spot the ferry terminal at Dover in Diamonds Are Forever from 1971 (starring Connery); scenes were shot at Chatham's Historic Dockyard for 1999's the World Is Not Enough (starring Pierce Brosnan); while Thanet's Manston Airport also features in 2002's Die Another Day (starring Brosnan).

The late, great Sean Connery as James Bond in Diamonds are Forever
The late, great Sean Connery as James Bond in Diamonds are Forever

And if that was not enough, Roger Moore, who portrayed Bond in seven outings between 1973 and 1985, lived in a mansion in Wansunt Road, Bexley, with his second wife, Welsh singer Dorothy Squires, in the 1950s - when, of course, Bexley was still part of Kent.

Joanna Lumley, who attended Mickledene School in Rolvenden as a child, made her first movie appearance in On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969 alongside George Lazenby's one and only outing as 007, while Gravesend's Gemma Arterton starred alongside Daniel Craig in 2008's Quantum of Solace.

No Time To Die is in cinemas from Thursday. Read our review of the film here.

To read more of our in-depth features click here.

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