Darkest Hour filmed in London and Yorkshire

Joe Wright’s award-winning historical movie Darkest Hour used studio facilities and locations in and around London and also doubled Yorkshire for the capital.

Joe Wright’s award-winning Churchill movie Darkest Hour enjoyed access to government buildings in London and also doubled Yorkshire for the capital.

Darkest Hour filmed in London and Yorkshire
Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour stars Gary Oldman as prime minister Winston Churchill in the spring of 1940, when the wartime leader was under pressure to make peace with Hitler as his armies advanced across Europe.

“As the film is based on real events that took place in actual locations, the obvious choice was to first approach those locations,” says Adam Richards, the film’s supervising location manager, in comments to KFTV.

“Number 10 Downing Street, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Treasury, the Houses of Parliament, etc. Luckily for us, they all agreed to help with the filming.”

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in the UK, and for regional contacts.


A set of the chamber of the House of Commons as it looked during the war was built on a stage at Warner Bros Studios Leavesden near London (pictured below).

Producers were in fact offered the chance to film in the actual Palace of Westminster, but decided against the modern chamber did not suit the needs of the shoot.

Darkest Hour

“A set was built because the [modern chamber] that you see today was actually built in the 1950s due to bomb damage during the war,” says Richards. “It wouldn’t have been architecturally correct to use the existing chamber.”

The team did in fact film scenes outside the real Palace of Westminster, with access granted to the production team primarily because of the movie’s subject matter.

Additional key set builds included the Cabinet War Rooms, an underground London complex that was used as a command centre during the war.

The real location is now a tourist attraction and the production team would not have been able to get the access and control they wanted over a two-week period, so stage work was a necessity.

Exterior filming did take place in the real Downing Street, but Wright and his team was not allowed to make physical changes to the location so the specific visuals had to be altered in post-production to reflect how it looked in 1940.

“I doubt whether we would have got permission to shoot directly out the front of Number 10, or have Gary Oldman coming out through the front door, had the subject matter not been about Churchill,” says Richards.

Darkest Hour

The script also required a location to stand in for Buckingham Palace for scenes where Churchill meets with King George VI.

Wright and his core creative team wanted to avoid the use of Somerset House on the south side of The Strand in central London as it is commonly used as a stand-in for palace interiors. Instead, the team used Wentworth House in South Yorkshire for these scenes, while nearby Branham Park doubled for Downing Street.

“Some of the interiors of the Houses of Parliament were filmed up in Manchester Town Hall and also in the John Rylands Library in Manchester,” says Richards.

“Brodsworth Hall, an English Heritage property, doubled as a bedroom at Number 10 where Churchill and the king meet. The only challenge was finding enough hotel bedrooms for the crew to stay in whilst filming away from home.”

Images: Jack English/Focus Features

Darkest Hour filmed in London and Yorkshire
Darkest Hour

Joe Wright’s award-winning Churchill movie Darkest Hour enjoyed access to government buildings in London and also doubled Yorkshire for the capital.

Darkest Hour stars Gary Oldman as prime minister Winston Churchill in the spring of 1940, when the wartime leader was under pressure to make peace with Hitler as his armies advanced across Europe.

“As the film is based on real events that took place in actual locations, the obvious choice was to first approach those locations,” says Adam Richards, the film’s supervising location manager, in comments to KFTV.

“Number 10 Downing Street, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Treasury, the Houses of Parliament, etc. Luckily for us, they all agreed to help with the filming.”

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in the UK, and for regional contacts.


A set of the chamber of the House of Commons as it looked during the war was built on a stage at Warner Bros Studios Leavesden near London (pictured below).

Producers were in fact offered the chance to film in the actual Palace of Westminster, but decided against the modern chamber did not suit the needs of the shoot.

Darkest Hour

“A set was built because the [modern chamber] that you see today was actually built in the 1950s due to bomb damage during the war,” says Richards. “It wouldn’t have been architecturally correct to use the existing chamber.”

The team did in fact film scenes outside the real Palace of Westminster, with access granted to the production team primarily because of the movie’s subject matter.

Additional key set builds included the Cabinet War Rooms, an underground London complex that was used as a command centre during the war.

The real location is now a tourist attraction and the production team would not have been able to get the access and control they wanted over a two-week period, so stage work was a necessity.

Exterior filming did take place in the real Downing Street, but Wright and his team was not allowed to make physical changes to the location so the specific visuals had to be altered in post-production to reflect how it looked in 1940.

“I doubt whether we would have got permission to shoot directly out the front of Number 10, or have Gary Oldman coming out through the front door, had the subject matter not been about Churchill,” says Richards.

Darkest Hour

The script also required a location to stand in for Buckingham Palace for scenes where Churchill meets with King George VI.

Wright and his core creative team wanted to avoid the use of Somerset House on the south side of The Strand in central London as it is commonly used as a stand-in for palace interiors. Instead, the team used Wentworth House in South Yorkshire for these scenes, while nearby Branham Park doubled for Downing Street.

“Some of the interiors of the Houses of Parliament were filmed up in Manchester Town Hall and also in the John Rylands Library in Manchester,” says Richards.

“Brodsworth Hall, an English Heritage property, doubled as a bedroom at Number 10 where Churchill and the king meet. The only challenge was finding enough hotel bedrooms for the crew to stay in whilst filming away from home.”

Images: Jack English/Focus Features

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