Adlington Hall becomes a “Witching Academy”
Last year the popular CBBC programme “The Worst Witch” adapted from the children’s books written by Jill Murphy, was commissioned for a second series and the film crew where on the lookout for a location suitable to be dressed as the school assembly hall. Series 1 was filmed in several locations, including Tatton Park and Peckforton Castle, but with new stories to be told some new settings were needed.
It all started when we were approached by a location agent who gave us a quick brief on what they were looking for.
Ideally, they want a grand hall – yes, we’ve got that,
With a minstrel’s gallery – Yes, we’ve got 2 of those!
Ideally, they want a backdrop of countryside and woods – Yes, we’ve got acres of those
They are looking for nearly 4 weeks filming in May, June and July – Yes, we can do that
Before we knew it we had an entire film crew filming 6 episodes for the new series. Turns out Adlington Hall had many locations they were looking for, not just the assembly hall. The director also fell in love with the outdoor spaces and our quirky historic corridors and fantastic big doors.
The Worst Witch is a fantastic and ambitious re-imagining of the much-loved Jill Murphy books about Mildred Hubble, a seemingly ordinary girl who is catapulted – quite literally – into a whole new world of magic.
Filming is great fun, although it does involve some very long hours and can be pretty demanding, but it’s wonderful to see the creative process in action, and how an established venue can suddenly look so different on screen. The Worst Witch books are incredibly popular with children and the first CBBC series proved equally popular, so we were delighted to have been chosen as filming location for the 2nd series. We’ve had to keep it secret since summer 2017 anxiously waiting until January 2018 before being able to tell everyone our involvement in such a wonderful series
Episode 1, Tortoise Trouble aired on the 8th January 2018 and although some of the grounds were used in the Episode it was hard to spot us. However, from Episode 2 onwards we have been one of the main locations featured each week
Episode 2 – The Friendship Trap. In this episode Adlington Hall was dressed as the lunch hall for the witches and Mildred and Ethel were magically joined together.
Behind the scenes fun fact: the food they are eating has all been prepared fresh and is perfectly edible, however after numerous takes is a little cold
The hall was also dressed for morning assembly in this episode.
Behind the scenes fun fact: Because the same space is used for different settings i.e. assembly hall with rows of chairs, lunch hall with big dining tables etc, all the scenes which feature the Assembly Hall are filmed at the same time. This means that the story appears to jump about a lot and the actors need to try and remember their lines from different scenes but it all makes sense when it’s edited back at the studio.
Episode 3 – Ethel Everywhere showed lots of Adlington Hall. In this episode Ethel has cloned herself into 5 different versions. Mildred finally realises what has happened in the Hall and manages to work out which is the “real” Mildred.
Behind the scenes fun fact: This scene had to be shot 5 separate times to give the illusion that Ethel was cloned 5 times. Each shot had to be done from lots of angles so the scenes with 5 Ethel’s present at once took 5 times longer than usual
Episode 4 – The Extraordinary Esper Vespertilio. This was a fabulous episode showing the Great Hall dressed for the concert performance of Esper Vespertilio. During the chanting scenes bats magically appear and fly around the room and the ceiling becomes a thunder storm. I don’t think the hall has ever looked so magical
This episode also features scenes shot in our outdoor wilderness areas. You can see the bluebells as the witches chat to the “New Girl” showing that this was actually one of the earlier scenes to be shot at the beginning May even though it doesn’t appear until episode 4
Episode 5 – Mildred’s Family Tree. In this episode the school holds their School Sports Day. For this they used the front lawn of Adlington Hall. It was a particularly fresh day and we did feel sorry for some of the girls who were only wearing sports attire in pretty chilly conditions!
This is how the filming looked to us:
During this episode Mildred manages to catapult herself beyond the sports field during the Fly High event and lands with a bump in a pond. This was actually our cascade pool in the centre of the wilderness
There are many more episodes to come, including a fabulous Hallo’ween event which made our Great Hall look truly Spooktacular! Watch this space for more episode information and behind the scenes fun facts!!