Ham House stars in Disneys John Carter

The north front of Ham House, Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey.

Our places can be many things: places of beauty, of historic significance and with timeless appeal.

What they're unlikely to be is part of a sci-fi adventure film, but Ham House and Garden in Richmond-upon-Thames changed that when it took a starring role in Disney’s action packed blockbuster John Carter.

Looking for a grand waterfront house that could double up as a New York mansion on the Hudson River the cast and crew spent six weeks filming John Carter at Ham last January.

It's live-action adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' 1912 sci-fi comic-book 'John Carter of Mars', about a civil war veteran who is magically transported to a turbulent new life on the red planet.

A sumptuous red-brick Stuart mansion on the southern bank of the River Thames, Ham was transformed into the American home of John Carter.

Transforming Ham House

Camilla Churchill, Assistant House Steward at the property explains:

'The look they were going for was a grand house that has been neglected as the owner becomes obsessed with all things related to Mars.'

'The crew set up the Back Parlour as a sort of ramshackle office with a comfy leather chair and lots of paper work; they built in pin boards and covered every surface. The West Passage and Great Hall were filled with glass fronted cupboards for the storage of specimens, there were boxes and packing  and a collection of unbelievable artefacts.'

Outside in Ham’s maze-like wilderness a full size mausoleum was built, from 2x4 and plaster of Paris.

Situated within the M25, Ham is regarded as one of the best-kept secrets in the British film industry with location managers appreciating its versatility and directors seduced by its good looks. Recent shoots include Downton Abbey, Never Let Me Go and The Young Victoria.

Raising money for conservation work

Commenting on Ham’s role on the big screen, Camilla said,

'Thanks to production companies like Disney choosing National Trust places as locations for their feature films people can follow in the footsteps of the stars and visit the ‘set’.

'But it’s not just visitors that benefit, as any film location fees earned at National Trust places whether it's a few hundred pounds or tens of thousands, go in their entirety to maintain that specific site, to care for it in the future.'