Though Emma Stone’s Cruella (née Estella) is technically the star of Disney’s latest origin story, one of the movie’s filming locations stole the show: Englefield House, the English country house that stands in as the exterior of Hellman Hall, the home of Emma Thompson’s ruthless fashion designer character Baroness von Hellman. (If this historic dwelling looks familiar, that’s because you’ve seen it in a bevy of other films and shows, including X-Men: First Class, Black Mirror, and The King’s Speech.)
“We wanted a house that felt like it was a grand country house that would make a big impression on young Estella when she arrives with her mother,” the film’s set decorator, Alice Felton, told House Beautiful of the Elizabethan-style abode, which was built in 1558. “It needed to look wild and huge with the sea crashing on the rocks below.”
The house’s exterior was transformed for two parties that Baroness von Hellman holds here in the film. Felton says, “We added a canopy to one side of the house, as we needed to see guests going into the parties, and there wasn’t a grand entrance there.” She adds, “We used flowers and huge drapes in different themes for both of the events.” But alterations weren’t confined to the exterior of the dwelling. Felton and her team also “redressed the interior spaces in the Baroness’s style.”
Felton notes that she “tried to keep a specific style” in all of the sites that acted as the Baroness’s residence, mainly “a mix of period-traditional style, with hints of the 1950s and 1960s.” Often, says Felton, she and her team “would use a traditional piece of furniture and upholster it in a modern fabric,” as a way of updating the piece. “We would match drapes and cushions. [We also added] more modern drapes and smaller props, like vases and flowers, that would be more contemporary.”
Vintage shops and markets were a go-to when sourcing furnishings for Hellman Hall, in addition to numerous prop houses based in and around London. Some original elements of Englefield House were maintained, however, like “the books and some of the amazing antiquities in the house,” says Felton.
Interested in visiting Englefield House and bringing the world of Cruella to life? Although the house itself is not open to the public, the gardens of the estate are available to tour—you can even get married here! And you never have to worry about Cruella de Vil crashing the party.
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