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Behind the scenes: Spinner’s End

Stuart Craig initially considered shooting on location to recreate Spinner’s End, an old English mill town.

However, as a result of the modern interiors of the buildings, Snape’s dingy home ended up being built in full at the studio.

Bellatrix and Narcissa running through Spinner's End.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Extracted from Harry Potter: Magical Places from the Films by Jody Revenson
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Sisters Narcissa Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange visit Spinner’s End, the home of Severus Snape, in an early scene in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Set in a mill town, where blocky, square brick buildings line the streets, known as ‘worker’s rows’, it is a sad, oppressive place to live. ‘Mill towns in England mean the cotton mills in Lancashire and the woollen mills in Yorkshire,’ Stuart Craig explains, ‘hubs of the nineteenth-century textile industry. We went to see them, to see all these houses, which are back to back to back in infinite rows. Quite a contrast to the wizarding world.’

Snape and Narcissa perform the Unbreakable vow
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

The houses were typically constructed with two rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs with a tiny backyard entry leading to the outhouse. Craig actually considered shooting on location, but even though the buildings were intact, they had been brought into the modern era, with up-to-date kitchens and plastic extensions, so the set was built at the studio.

A street view of Spinner's End from the Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Stephenie McMillan furnished the Spinner’s End interior with an eye toward its enigmatic, secretive owner. ‘In the book, Snape’s house, really his parents’ house, was filled with books, so we lined everywhere with books, but used primarily dark brown and blue and black bindings. That provided a sort of anonymity.’ McMillan also decorated the room with paintings that contained grey landscapes. As the room came together, Alan Rickman offered McMillan some creative insight. ‘He came onto the set to look at everything I had dressed it with. Then he suggested that he didn’t think there would be any pictures in the room. I agreed, and removed them. It became even more impersonal and rather detached, echoing Snape’s character.’

Harry Potter: Magical Places book cover

Extracted from
‘Harry Potter: Magical Places from the films'