Rupert Court

Rupert Court is a narrow pedestrian alleyway that runs between Wardour Street and Rupert Street in Chinatown, Central London.  

It is first mentioned in the Prologue of The Running Grave where we learn that it is the location of the Universal Humanitarian Church’s Central Temple. Will Edensor wrote to his parents to arrange to meet them there, and Kevin Pirbright’s email to Sir Colin Edensor mentions the ‘increasingly opulent fixtures and fittings’ of the temple.

Robin decides to go to a service at the Rupert Court temple, as she knows this is the only way to get an invitation to Chapman Farm, where Will Edensor is living. Having created her Rowena Ellis undercover identity and changed her appearance with a haircut and colour, she attends a Saturday morning service.

‘On one side of the passageway were various small businesses, including a Chinese reflexologist’ (chapter 10). Of course, the Central Temple is a fictitious building, and in reality the buildings on both sides of Rupert Court house small businesses. The reflexologist does exist, on the south side of the alleyway. 

On the south side there is also a hairdresser …

… and a Malaysian deli.

We can therefore assume that the temple is meant to be on the north side. In reality, much of the north side of the alleyway is taken up by a Malaysian restaurant called C&R Cafe.

‘Most of the other side was taken up by the temple. It had probably once been a nondescript commercial building housing restaurants or shops, but the lower windows and doors had been blocked up, leaving only one massive entrance’ (chapter 10).

‘Once close enough to see the entrance clearly, Robin saw that the red and gold carvings surrounding the door represented animals: a horse, a cow, a rooster, a pig, a pheasant, a dog and a sheep. She’d just had time to wonder whether this was an oblique reference to the UHC’s agricultural birthplace when she spotted the dragon with bright gold eyes’ (chapter 10).

Members of the UHC, including Will, sometimes stay overnight at the Rupert Court temple, and toward the end of the book Robin confronts some UHC members in the rooms upstairs (chapter 130).

We first learnt that Rupert Court was to be in The Running Grave from one of J.K. Rowling’s Twitter header photos:

J.K. Rowling replied to VineMissde on Twitter before the book was published, saying, “Just be careful down there. You never know who – or what – you might meet.”

You can find Rupert Court on the map below: