Chariots of Fire was a massive success at the Academy Awards, winning Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. It’s a historical drama, which the Oscars love, though little else about it screams fame and fortune. The Chariots of Fire film locations aren’t especially notable either (if I’m honest).
Chariots of Fire (1981) is based on a true story set in the 1920s. Eric Liddell, a devout Christian living in Edinburgh, and Harold Abrahams, a Jewish University of Cambridge student, are both runners determined to compete in the 1924 Paris Olympics. The film explores how their faiths affect their lives and sporting goals.
Though it’s not my cup of tea, people really do love Chariots of Fire! And it did shoot scenes in Edinburgh, which is a city I love. So, let’s take a look at all the Chariots of Fire film locations! The scenes in France were also shot in England, so Scotland and England are the only two countries featured in the film.
Chariots of Fire Film Locations
Chariots of Fire Film Locations in Scotland
1. West Sands Beach, St Andrews
Ah, the iconic soundtrack doesn’t take long to kick in! After the memorial, the film opens with men running along the coastline getting their white athletic uniforms very muddy. This Chariots of Fire beach scene location is West Sands Beach in St Andrews though it’s supposed to be somewhere called Broadstairs Beach in Kent, England.
2. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St Andrews
The exterior to the Carlton Hotel in Broadstairs, Kent (which I assume is fictional but I might be wrong) is actually the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St Andrews. This place is like, the mecca of golf. It’s the club that sets the rules and organizes all the main golfing tournaments.
3. Sma’ Glen, Crieff, Perth and Kinross
After catching up with Harold to see how he’s getting on at the University of Cambridge, the next Chariots of Fire locations are in Scotland to see how Eric is doing. He appears to be awarding prizes at some children’s version of the highland games in Sma’ Glen, a valley near Crieff in Perth and Kinross. It’s quite a gorgeous valley!
4. Inverleith Rugby Club, Edinburgh
After his pastor tells him to use his gifts to spread the word of God, Eric runs in several international athletic meets and preaches afterwards. The first is the Scotland v Ireland meet which Chariots of Fire shot at the Inverleith Rugby Club in Edinburgh.
5. Goldenacre Playing Fields, Edinburgh
Eric’s next international meet is Scotland v France. This Chariots of Fire filming location is at Goldenacre Playing Fields, another sports ground in Edinburgh.
6. Café Royal, 19 West Register Street, Edinburgh
Currently following Harold’s storyline, he asks out the beautiful Sybil Gordon after being stunned by her performance in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado. Though this is supposed to be London, the Chariots of Fire location is Cafe Royal in Edinburgh. It’s an extremely decadent seafood restaurant which looks very snazzy and I’m sure the menu has a price tag to match.
7. New College/Assembly Hall, Mound Place, Edinburgh
Eric Liddell is late for a Christian meeting (much to his sister Jennie’s annoyance) at the University of Edinburgh’s New College Building on Mound Place. It’s a huge building that serves as an Edinburgh Fringe Festival venue during the month of August.
8. Holyrood Park, Edinburgh
Eric takes Jennie for a walk in Holyrood Park with a lovely view of Edinburgh’s skyline and the Salisbury Crags in the background.
9. Broughton McDonald Church, 33 Broughton Place, Edinburgh
After Eric arrives in Paris and his dilemma about running on the Sabbath is sorted out, he worships at the Church of Scotland in Paris and reads a bible passage to the congregation. I absolutely love the idea of there being a Church of Scotland in Paris, but in reality, this isn’t the case.
This scene was shot at the Broughton McDonald Church in Edinburgh, which is now a Lyons & Turnball auction house. And that’s the last of the Chariots of Fire film locations in Scotland!
Chariots of Fire Film Locations in England
10. St Mary Le Strand Church, Strand, London
The whole movie is essentially one big flashback. The first Chariots of Fire film location takes place in 1978 London, at a memorial for one of the runners. The exterior of the church is St Mary Le Strand which is one of the oldest parish churches in London.
11. St Mary-le-Bow Church, Cheapside, London
The interior of the church is a very similarly named, but definitely different, church called St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside, London.
12. King’s Parade, Cambridge University
The next Chariots of Fire film location is an establishing shot of The University of Cambridge. Specifically, of King’s College Chapel from a road named King’s Parade.
13. Eton College, Windsor, Berkshire
Chariots of Fire did not get permission from the University of Cambridge to film any other scenes there. If you’ve watched the film (and remember, it’s based on a true story), you’ll know that the University of Cambridge, and its staff, don’t come off well!
So the famously elite Eton College in Windsor, Berkshire stood in for all the scenes set at Caius and Trinity College. In particular, Eton’s College Chapel stands in for Trinity Great Court during the College Dash scene.
14. Hall Barn House, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire
After consoling Sybil at his huge family mansion, Lord Andrew Lindsay sets up hurdles in his back garden with glasses of champagne balanced on the end. Oh, to be ludicrously wealthy!
This estate is Hall Barn House near Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s open to the public.
15. Birkenhead Docks, Wirral, Merseyside
The athletes are off to the Olympics in Paris! They depart from a ferry terminal in Dover, which is actually somewhere in the Birkenhead Docks area in the Wirral, Merseyside. I’m not 100% sure where this building is or if it still exists.
The White Cliffs of Dover appear briefly as Eric contemplates his predicament of whether or not to run in the heats on the Sabbath.
16. Ruskin Sports Village, Saint Helens, Merseyside
I think this is hilarious. Want to know where the Chariots of Fire filming locations that stand in for Paris are? Merseyside! Bloody Merseyside! I don’t know about you but I’ve never visited Liverpool and thought about how Parisian the city looked.
Anyway, the American athletics team’s training ground in Paris is the Ruskin Sports Village in Saint Helens, Merseyside.
17. Liverpool Town Hall, High Street, Liverpool
The Olympiads attend a ball at the British Embassy in Paris, which is actually in Liverpool Town Hall.
18. The Royal Liverpool University Hospital Chapel, Liverpool
Though it’s since closed, the Chapel at The Royal Liverpool University Hospital stood in at the café where Abrahams and his coach meet up a couple of times before and after Abrahams’ race. Some extremely weird film locations in this movie.
19. The Oval Leisure Centre, Wirral, Merseyside
The Oval Leisure Centre in the Wirral, Merseyside stands in for the Olympic stadium, Stade des Colombes, in Paris. Were the Olympic games really held at such tiny stadiums back in the 1920s or was Chariots of Fire‘s budget just too small to afford a bigger one?!
20. York Station, Yorkshire
Team GB triumphantly returns to England and arrive at King’s Cross Station, London where there’s a huge crowd waiting for them outside. Except it’s not King’s Cross, it’s the entrance to York Station in Yorkshire.
Fully enough, it’s not the only time York has stood in for King’s Cross. It pretended to be the London Station in the Harry Potter films, too!
And those are all the top Chariots of Fire film locations in Scotland and England! Have you watched the movie or visited any of the Chariots of Fire locations? Let me know in the comments below!