04 March 2015

Finding Cherry Tree Lane ● by Jess

Mary Poppins is just one of those films that induces all kinds of nostalgia for me. Not only does it remind me of sitting at my grandma's house during the holidays, but there's also Julie Andrews, and she's just plain magical.

Because it is so very dear to my heart, Jon and I decided it was time to embark upon an *epic quest* to find Cherry Tree Lane (where Jane and Michael Banks' house is located).


Finding Cherry Tree Lane


To start with, it has to be noted that the house in the film was created on a sound stage in California, and, if you search 'Cherry Tree Lane' in Google, you'll get an obscure little road way out in east London. Neither fact are particularly helpful in our search. It was time to look to the source. I pulled out the original Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers.

The original Mary Poppins is lovely, albeit rather different from the movie (wherein there is decidedly more children). It does, however, give us some very important clues...

On page one, Travers starts off with a cheeky note to Poppins seekers such as myself.

If YOU want to find Cherry Tree Lane all you have to do is ask the Policeman at the crossroads... if you follow his directions exactly, you will be there — right in the middle of Cherry Tree Lane, where the houses run down one side and the Park runs down the other and the cherry-trees go dancing right down the middle.”

So, we know it's on the edge of “the Park”-- with a capitalized 'P'! So, its a big one, most likely one of the Royal parks. That narrows things down a bit:

Bushy Park
Richmond Park
St. James Park
Green Park
Hyde Park
Regents Park
Greenwich Park

Finding Cherry Tree Lane
Finding Cherry Tree Lane

Later on in the book Traver's gives us another little nugget describing the family watching the afternoon die away behind the park, meaning that the Park must have been to the west of their house.

So, we're looking for Cherry Tree Lane along the eastern edge of one of the big London parks. That means we can eliminate some of these:

Bushy Park
Richmond Park
Both too far away to walk from the house to the City, where George Banks works (books references both George and the Mary Poppins doing)

St. James Park
Green Park
In order to have this address the Banks' would basically have to Royal. Which is definitely not the case.

Greenwich Park
When Mary Poppins and the children walk to their father's work, they come up Ludgate Hill, so it would have to be a Park west of the City.

Finding Cherry Tree Lane
Where is the House in Mary Poppins

 So we are left with two options: Hyde Park & Regents Park.

While Hyde Park is plausible, it's unlikely. Travers sets her book in the 1930's a time when money was tight, particularly among upper middle class Britons. We even know that Mrs. Banks gave her husband the choice between a large family and “a nice clean, comfortable house.” He chose the family, so his house is the “smallest and shabbiest” on the street.

You basically have to be an aristocrat to have a house on the east side of Hyde Park, so that leaves us with Regents Park.

Finding Cherry Tree Lane

We went up to Regent's Park and searched and searched. I thought this made a rather lovely Admiral Boom's house (though rumor has it, the one in the book was based off one in Hampstead Heath).

I'm sure lots has changed in the last 80 years, so its hard to tell. This neighbourhood is pretty swanky now... it has lots of celebs reportedly living here like Boris Johnson (the mayor) and Daniel Craig. 

Finding Cherry Tree Lane
 At long last, I thought I may have found it! We sound this little street tucked behind two telephone booths. We were sure it must be it. It met all the requirements, including having a strip of green (a very narrow park) down the middle of the street which may have once had cherry trees. We counted the numbers, looking for a 17, but unfortunately, the houses only made it up to #11. SAD DAY!

Finding Cherry Tree Lane
We were nearly, but not yet fully defeated. I made this tiny kite out of things from around the flat (bamboo skewers, tissue paper from show box, tape and dental floss) and I was determined to fly it on the best kite flying hill in London, which just happens to be in Regent Park. Unfortunately, the wind on Primrose Hill had other things in mind (or maybe I'm just a failure at kite flying).


Flying a Kite Regent's Park

All said, I think it was quite a successful day. We found a possible location of the Mary Poppins house, attempted to fly a kite, and explored  a part of London that looked beautiful even on a dark and cloudy day!Mary PoppinsCherry tree
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