Walter's Wardrobe - Matilda

“I love England in a heat wave. It’s a different country. All the rules change“ - there couldn’t be a better quote by author, Ian McEwan, to describe July’s Walter’s Wardrobe. Thirty two degree heat, equating to the hottest weekend of the year, replicated not only the story of Briony Tallis and her detrimental false testimony in ‘Atonement’, but also the unusually warm summer of 2008, when the film was created at Stokesay Court. 

For all those who follow events in Walter’s Wardrobe, they’ll concur that I hunt high and low for suitable locations, often driving hundreds of miles just for disappointment, with a promise that ‘it’s ok’ will never do. I keep my ears to the ground and am never not looking - online, on television, in earshot - whatever it takes. Locations can be found on the most surprising paths. So when the ten year anniversary of the movie Atonement came about, I took my chance to visit the usually closed doors of Stokesay Court, stepping into the world of a narrative I have loved since uni. 

On a mid-August day, you’d be forgiven for expecting warmth and sunshine, but at barely 15 degrees and torrential rain in the depths of Staffordshire, the open day was anything but. My location scouting journey was one of many and the difficult conditions left me squinting throughout the three hour drive, hoping and praying it would be worth it. 

Yet once I arrived, it became clear this was it. I’m not a fan of dark wood panelling, heavy floral interiors and too much of a ‘homely’ feel for photography…but on this day, I took all of it back, as I allowed the energy of Hollywood to seep around me. 

Stepping through the doors of each room gave shiver after tingle of recognition for each plot part. The upstairs corridor…and that angular turn as Briony carries ‘The Trials of Arabella’ to her mother, the nursery…and that ghastly man telling Lola she has to “bite it”… and that infamous library, post-unmentionable letter.

Scripts, cast notes, costume directive, artificial flowers and polystyrene rocks from the film, discarded (or rescued) as though they’d left only a moment ago. 

And that was that. I was sold and barely home five minutes before my first email was being sent to enquire about a possible photoshoot, only to discover the private house had never been photographed or filmed outside the movie. 

*Beam from the heavens hits the house as angels hit their highest note* aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Wardrobe exclusiiiiiiiiive! 

Fast forward a year and unbeknown to us in the sweltering July heat, we’d brought together a videographer who was currently working with the lead role (Keira Knightly) on her latest film, the niece of the films Head of Casting, and a makeup artist whose husband had befriended the Director, Joe Wright. Coincidences…eh, they just seem to follow me. 

A 1920s/1930s inspired cinematic experience quickly became Matilda; named as such in homage to the stained glass window bearing St Matilda - the Patron Saint of the Falsely Accused - a little film fact that enchanted the venue's unique nature.

Down to the lake and back up again, the house is an absolute wonder for any Atonement fan. From rescuing trapped wasps to the stifling heat, the weekend was one of a film set without actors, a house lost in time and a unique specialness that I for one, will never forget. 

For BTS images see below and join the Walter's Wardrobe Facebook group for more.


Models: Emily Bailey Jay, Miriam Rodriguez Juarez, Evie Robertson & Johnny Escobar

MUAs: Olivia Morewood & Sophie Battersby

Designers: Mishi May, Joanne Fleming Design & Isobel Hind Couture

Stylist: Jen Brook

Location: Stokesay Court

Production: Walter’s Wardrobe

 Cinematography: Mike Krause at 

Join us in October for the final event of 2018. Save the date coming soon! 

Get involved… 

Scripts, cast notes, costume directive, artificial flowers and polystyrene rocks from the film, discarded (or rescued) as though they’d left only a moment ago. 

©JenBrook 2013

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