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Visit the Enchanted Forest from Disney’s Maleficent

Angelina Jolie as Disney's Maleficent, filming at Ashridge
Angelina Jolie as Disney's Maleficent, filming at Ashridge | © Film Frame ©Disney 2014

Disney recognised that there’s something magical about the Ashridge Estate, a beautiful patch of southern English countryside in Hertfordshire. It became the backdrop of the 2014 film Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie. Find out about the filming process and visit the Enchanted Forest from the movie today.

Creating a magical woodland

The previously untold story of Disney's most iconic villain from the 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty takes place among the ancient beech and oak woodland in Ashridge’s 5,000-acre grounds, less than an hour from central London.

'People think you can create almost any image with a computer these days, but we are not quite there just yet, and the successful combination of reality and fantasy in film making is an artform in itself. Maleficent is a celebration of that form, in which Ashridge Estate plays an integral part.'

A quote by Bill Darby Supervising location manager on Maleficent

Ashridge as an enchanted forest

The Ashridge woodland with its otherworldly trees and abundance of wildlife, provided the real location for the Enchanted Forest, where Maleficent, played by Angelina Jolie, lives.

With a little help from computer wizardry and a generous helping of mischievous pixies and magical faery folk, Ashridge was transformed into the Moors – a bewitching landscape and enchanted forest that was formerly ruled by Maleficent, and invaded by King Henry's Army.

Becoming a National Trust place

Ashridge was saved from development by a public appeal and donated to the National Trust in 1926, so it’s fitting that the story, which is about protecting an enchanted forest kingdom, was partly shot in the ancient woodland here.

While we can’t confirm that there are any magical pixies and fairies in the woods, the estate is home to ancient trees, rare plants, butterflies, birds, insects and mammals including fallow and muntjac deer, all of which can be spotted and enjoyed on a day out at Ashridge.

Supporting special places

As well as showing off beautiful locations, filming directly benefits the places that star in the production. The income from location fees goes straight back into conservation work to care for historic houses and landscapes, so that we’ll all be able to see them both on screen and in real life for years to come.

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