Disney’s The Evermoor Chronicles filmed in Cheshire

PUBLISHED: 00:00 09 November 2015 | UPDATED: 20:09 09 November 2015

Disney in Cheshire for Evermoor

Disney in Cheshire for Evermoor

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Cheshire is just the perfect location for a Disney movie, a film company boss tells Mairead Mahon

You might expect that Hollywood or New York would be the setting for Disney’s latest children’s adventure but it seems that these locations just can’t compete with Cheshire.

The Evermoor Chronicles tells the tale of an American family who inherit a manor in England and the ghostly goings on that take place when they get there. Disney bosses decided that Arley Hall in Northwich should star as the manor house and Great Budworth would be the local village.

David Levine, general manager for Disney UK, said Cheshire was just perfect.

‘As soon as we saw Arley Hall, we knew it was right for us and Great Budworth is such a quintessential English village with a beautiful church, a village green and stunning period properties. It really helps to bring our story to life and we know that our international audiences are going to be captivated by it’.

So while Arley Hall is all set to become the next Hogwarts, a warehouse on an estate in Warrington has also become an essential part of Evermoor.

‘Yes, we filmed some interior scenes in a Warrington warehouse. It looked perfectly ordinary on the exterior but step over the threshold and there was the Disney stardust effect: stardust that was provided by many local craftspeople and artists. We had joiners, scenic painters, embroiders and metalworkers and their attention to detail all helped to bring the mysterious world of Evermoor alive,’ said David.

Willow sculptor Juliette HamiltonWillow sculptor Juliette Hamilton

One of the local craftspeople involved was Juliette Hamilton, a willow sculptor, who was responsible for making three willow ladies, each three metres high.

‘I was so excited to get the phone call from Disney. I run some courses at Arley Hall and apparently they had seen some of my work there and had been really taken with it. It was lovely to meet the cast and crew, although my little girl was most put out that it all happened on a school day! The task of making them to their exact brief - they wanted them to have flowing willow dresses and cloaks - was demanding but so much fun,’ says Juliette.

Visitors to Arley can still see one of her figures but the plot demanded that the others be burned. Obviously, it’s never easy to see work damaged but Juliette is used to working with the demands of film and television. Her previous work includes two boxing hares commissioned by Hollyoaks, who wanted them to stand outside The Hutch and an enormous ring for a Bollywood film.

‘It certainly was enormous; it had to be as they wanted real horses to jump through it. I worked on it in my garden and it almost filled it entirely,’ says Juliette.

It’s not only rings for horses that she has been asked to make, she has also being asked to make a life size horse.

‘That was a warhorse commissioned by Tameside Council. I spent a week working outside at the Portland Basin Museum and it was a lovely. The sun shone, people waved at me from boats and everyone wanted to chat,’ laughs Juliette.

Animals are a constant theme in Juliette’s work, making everything from cows and stags and even an elephant.

‘That was a commission for the comedian John Bishop. It was an elephant, so no surprises that it was a big piece of work, standing at one and a half metres high and it had to be topped off with a bow on it. It was a lovely thing to work on, as it was a gift for his elephant obsessed wife on their wedding anniversary’.

The elephant was collected so it didn’t cause any domestic ructions for Juliette; unlike the life sized cow that had to be delivered to Northern Ireland.

‘I tried to persuade my husband to tie it to the top of our car and we would take it across on the ferry. The children thought it was a good idea, I thought it was ‘doable’ but there was no way he was going to do it, so we boringly hired a van,’ laughs Juliette.

Luckily, not all commissions are so large and Juliette has developed a reputation for making life sized models of the dogs and cats of Cheshire.

‘It began with making a farm cat as a present for a friend and word soon spread. My only rule though is that I have to know the pet’s name and something about them, ideally I like to meet them, as willow can really bring out the character of a living thing.’

It’s not just animal sculptures that cause a stir though. When Juliette was asked to make a crown for Knutsford’s Jubilee celebrations, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne made a point of really admiring it.

So, would Juliette like to work with Disney again?

‘Of course, without hesitation’!

That might be on the cards as New Yorker David Levine was so impressed with the county that he can’t see any reason why they won’t work here again. In the meantime, he is looking forward to spending a few days here to properly explore.

‘A family member was from Cheshire, so I’ve heard lots of stories about it but I’m open to any recommendations from people who live in the county.’

It seems that Cheshire has cast a little magic of its own over the Disney team. w

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