It was a case of lights, camera, action as Hollywood took over the Caerhays Estate in Cornwall to shoot one of the most hotly anticipated movies of the year – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Cult director Tim Burton whose credits include Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice and the 2005 remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, spent three months filming on the estate with Hollywood stars Rupert Everett, Chris O’Dowd and former Bond girl Eva Green, who takes the title role in the film, based on the bestselling children’s novel by Ransom Riggs.
The film, also starring Dame Judy Dench, Samuel L Jackson and Terence Stamp, is based on the New York Times bestselling debut novel by American author Ramsom Riggs released in 2012.
The book tells the tale of Jake – played by rising newcomer Asa Butterfield – who, following a horrific family tragedy, follows clues that take him to an abandoned Welsh orphanage – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
The Caerhays estate, close to St Austell, is famous for its stunning world class gardens and beautiful castle, designed by famous regency architect John Nash. The 140 acre gardens are home to the a National Magnolia Collection and featuring plants grown from seed collected in China as early as the 1870s and won this year’s Historic Houses Association Garden of the Year Award sponsored by Christies.
The filming and the exact location were understandably kept a closely guarded secret by studio Twentieth Studio Fox ahead of the film’s release Friday 30th September.
Fox location managers spent months scouring the UK’s coastlines for the fictional Welsh island setting of Miss Peregrine’s abandoned orphanage.
The filming for Miss Peregrine was done in locations around the estate with the crews filming on location in the tiny estate village of East Portholland and on the beach at nearby Porthluney Cove. They arrived with a 70 lorries and at the peak of filming they had more than 400 cast and crew at their main unit base, in a field near Caerhays Castle.
Click here for a look at the Caerhays map
Carpenters and set designers built a temporary post office, stores and a local pub in the car park at East Portholland, taking it back in time to the 1950s. Even Cornwall Council was called on to speed up the strengthening of a small local bridge to support the weight of the location lorries, ferrying everything from pieces of set to camera equipment.
Key members of the production team stayed on the estate’s holiday cottages, including cult director Tim Burton. Security was tight throughout filming with Fox laying on staff to prevent paparrazi photographers giving away too much about the look of the movie. And strange requests were made to estate staff, including extra foliage to make the area look “more moory”.
It’s not the first time it has been used in a fictional re-telling of a classic novel. Hit TV drama series Rebecca was filmed there in the 1970s.
Naturally the hope is that Caerhays will become an increasingly popular location for both film and television producers.
And as for the film itself? From an unbiased view, it is great, and my kids thought so too.
My advice is get along to your local cinema to see it.
Find out more about Caerhays here: www.caerhays.co.uk