From Kent, With Love: Ian Fleming & James Bond -  The Kentish Connection

In the winter of 1978, armed with a series of newly purchased Ordnance Survey Maps, I travelled down to Kent by British Rail. Examining the maps closely I had been excited to discover that Fleming had indeed used his magpie-like trait of cherry-picking bright interesting names from wherever he might find them and then sprinkle them throughout his novels like phonetic gold dust. He also enjoyed using the names of his friends and relations as characters in his novels, but had begun this literary habit in the first instance in 1953 when he used the author’s name from the book Birds of the West Indies, one of his ‘bibles’ at his home Goldeneye in Oracabessa, Jamaica, for the name of his secret agent 007 in his first James Bond novel, CASINO ROYALE. Later, Fleming would controversially use the surname of the Hungarian-born architect working in England, Ernő Goldfinger, for probably his most famous villain. The cricket commentator and sports journalist Henry Blofeld also discovered his father’s name had been picked by Fleming for use as the master-criminal Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who headed the crime cartel SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counterintelligence Terrorism and Extortion), and who appeared in three Bond novels. Henry Blofeld’s father had been at school with Fleming and both men were also members of the same London club, Boodles in St. James’s. With this president set, coupled with Fleming’s laconic wit, it wasn’t too difficult to believe Fleming’s claim of going out into Romney Marsh hoping to find inspiration could actually be true!

Scrutinizing the Ordnance Survey Maps of Kent for the first time in 1978, I was amazed to discover that on Romney Marsh there was in fact a Moneypenny Farm, a Honeychild Manor Farm (still a fully working arable farm with a dairy herd of 250 cows, and now also a delightful bed & breakfast stopover in the farm’s Georgian Manor House), and a few miles away near Rye, East Sussex was The Hammonds Country Hotel, a building dating back to the early Queen Anne period (which has now reverted to a private residence). Suddenly I could picture Ian Fleming running an eyeglass over these Ordnance Survey maps of the area with a wry smile while looking for likely other input for his James Bond novels.

Architect Erno Goldfinger

Ernő Goldfinger (1902-1987)

Cricket Commentator Henry Blofeld

Henry Blofeld (1939- )

Honeychild Manor Farm Honeychild Manor Farm

LEFT: Honeychild Manor Farm, St Mary in the Marsh, Romney Marsh, Kent.
BELOW: Ursula Andress as Honey Rider in Dr. No (1962) photograph by Bunny Yeager.

Honeychild Manor Farm Honeychild Manor Farm Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder in Dr. No (1962) Photographed by Bunny Yeager
Honeychild Manor Farm DR. NO Pan paperback designed by Raymond Hawkey Honeychild Manor Farm