If you have seen the film “The Iron Lady” starring Meryl Streep you may have recognised the Memorial Hall that was used for filming some of the early scenes when a teenager Margaret Roberts, later to become Mrs Thatcher, was played by actress Alexandra Roach.
The Memorial Hall was chosen to depict a hall in Grantham during a 1943 by-election, where the former Prime Minister listened to her father’s political speeches as an alderman. In 2010 the manager of the hall was approached by a scout who had scene the hall on the internet and was interested in its period design and proximity to London. The hall was shortlisted to one of three and following a visit from the artistic designer of the film, a contract was soon signed.
Filming took place one day at the end of February 2011 from 6 a.m. to around 9 p.m. proceeded by a couple of days preparation and followed by one day of clearing up. Three huge generators parked outside supplied power for lighting, a hundred acting “extras” waited patiently in the Birchnall Hall and the main actors used the Churchill Room. The ladies toilet stored equipment and the middle kitchen was set up with monitors where the Hall Manager could see the filming taking place. A mobile catering van was set up in front of St Mary’s Church and large lorries containing props and costumes were parked by the Hawkey Hall.
Little in the main hall needed to be changed (it must have been the original stage curtains that clinched the deal!!) but all the coloured bulbs were replaced and old fashioned bunting hung to disguise modern conduits. Two of the original lampshades were accidentally broken but replaced by the film company when hand blown replacements were found. Similarly, the company paid for the redecoration of the front kitchen that was transformed to resemble a 1940s kitchen with a butler sink and urn. Cupboards were boxed in and a modern draining board hidden by shelves and old tins . It was here that Margaret Roberts was filmed serving teas. This is the second time that the hall has been used for filming the first time being when Alan Davies revisited the hall and remembered the night he visited a rock concert there in his youth and a fight broke out.
Written by Penny Freestone
Letter of intention – Woodford Please click on link to view Letter of Intention to Film at the Hall
Agreed Iron Lady St Marys Woodford LOCATION AGREEMENt (1) Please click on link to see Agreement to Film at Woodford Memorial Hall