A ‘historic’ and ‘beautiful’ village in Dorset has been in the spotlight in recent weeks after crews filmed a new Star Wars series near the village.

Winspit Quarry, based near Worth Matravers in the Purbecks, has been used to film a scene for Andor, a 12-episode Star Wars TV series that takes place before the events of Rogue One and focuses on the early formation of the Rebellion.

The quarry has been closed since Monday, April 26 to allow production crews to build the set, as well as transport props, technical equipment, and for actors to arrive.

Three days of filming started on Tuesday, May 11 with a scene that appeared to be filmed at a cave in the quarry, with lights and equipment pointing towards it.

A number of male and female actors wore black cloaks which presumably covered their costumes to prevent any speculation or spoilers. No prominent cast members, such as Diego Luna, Stellan Skarsgård or Fiona Shaw, were seen during the shooting.

Production crews have dismantled the set and now moved away from the derelict quarry as well as drive their large vehicles away from a field in the village.

With a population of more than 600 people, Worth Matravers is built up of limestone cottages and farmhouses and is surrounded by hectares of Dorset fields.

Inside the village are a post office, village shop, a craft centre and a Grade II-listed pub, which has been open since 1793.

'Beautiful' village popular with tourists

Dorset Echo: Inside the Dorset village of Worth Matravers near Swanage. Picture: Dorset EchoInside the Dorset village of Worth Matravers near Swanage. Picture: Dorset Echo

Kevin Hunt, manager of the Square and Compass, described the village as ‘beautiful’ and popular with tourists all year around.

He said: “It is a beautiful area to live in. I love the area.

“It is very popular with tourists and Londoners who buy second homes and the like.

“There are starting to be more tourists in the area due to the easing of lockdown restrictions as per the roadmap.

“Obviously there has been a large film crew in the area, but they were no trouble, really nice, and did their thing at the quarry.”

Roger Khanna, clerk of Worth Matravers Parish Council, said he first moved to the surrounding area 20 years ago to be closer to family in the area.

He described the village as ‘historic’ and popular with second homeowners from London.

Area may not see a rise in tourists due to Star Wars

Dorset Echo: Production crews have taken over Winspit Quarry in East Dorset to film a new Star Wars TV series. Picture: Dorset Echo/Michael Taylor

But despite the interest in the Star Wars filming, Mr Khanna doesn’t foresee an increase in visitors to the village.

He said: “I would say there have been very few visitors for obvious reasons.

“The quarries have already been a very popular place to walk down but I don’t anticipate any large difference to when the weather is nice.

“We are pretty busy during the summer. The car parks are usually full, especially at weekends but I cannot see any increase in visitors due to the filming.”

Recalling how filming was arranged, Mr Khanna revealed they had been approached by the production company weeks ago about filming at the quarry.

He said: “It went in a two-strange process. They went down to the quarry for a look and then they returned a few weeks later and set up a compound.

“They also had an agreement with the landowners of the land where they based their vehicles and the quarry.

“They have been very professional in accessing the track and the filming of the quarry. They have been no trouble.”

“They have been fairly invisible and well managed. It has been a very professional outfit and it was very professionally organised.”

Tourists happy to return to scenic area 

Dorset Echo: Day one of filming for Star Wars at Winspit Quarry in coastal Dorset. Pictures: Dorset Echo/Michael Taylor

With the interest in the filming, Star Wars fans and tourists have made the mile-walk along a footpath from the village’s car park to visit the set.

Spectators could only see above the quarry and a rock wall blocks the entry of the cave so they had difficulty seeing what was being filmed. Despite this, dozens of tourists were just happy to watch filming from afar.

Julian Raithby and his son Connor travelled from outside of Taunton, Somerset to get a glimpse of the filming – and were amazed by the set and surrounding Dorset scenery.

Student filmmaker Connor said: “We have seen a huge production. A lot of technical equipment, security guards around the set and it is very secretive down here.

“It is really cool to see this and fantastic to see it up close.”

Father Julian added: “We came down on Monday and wanted to visit the production before it started.

“We wanted to speak to any of the people including the producers or crew members and we would come back again and get a bit closer again.”

'It’s amazing to think this is being filmed in this wonderful bit of Dorset'

Dorset Echo: Day one of filming for Star Wars at Winspit Quarry in coastal Dorset. Pictures: Dorset Echo/Michael Taylor

One man who lived in Dorset said he only came down to visit the set – but was left struck by the ‘beautiful’ scenery which surrounds the caves and the coast.

He said: “I came here on the weekend before they started filming just so I could get a look at the set and see what was happening.

“I came back during the week to see the filming and look at the set because I really like watching behind-the-scenes documentaries and seeing how films and TV series are filmed.

“It really is a beautiful place. I haven’t been here before but I was struck by the Purbecks, the sea and the surrounding scenery.

“The walk through the village was really nice too. I would definitely come back here with my partner for a day trip and picnic at the Quarry.”

Other hikers just looked on despite not knowing what was going on.

One dog walker said: “My grandson is a Star Wars fan so he would love all of this. It’s amazing to think this is being filmed in this wonderful bit of Dorset.”

The quarry, which is usually open to tourists, will reopen later this week.

The derelict Winspit Quarry has been used as a filming location over the years, including for classic Doctor Who and Blake 7 TV series. It was also featured as a scene location for the ‘Orkney Dig’ in the 2012 Disney film John Carter.