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The Enchanting Lincolnshire Village That Disney Can’t Get Enough Of

The Enchanting Lincolnshire Village That Disney Can’t Get Enough Of

Walt Disney, the founder of the famous film studio, has a lesser-known connection to a small English village called Norton Disney. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s film studio, which has produced beloved movies worldwide. However, not many people know about the founder’s ties to this Lincolnshire village.

Norton Disney, with a population of only 242, has been honored in every Disney movie since 2006. The title sequence of each film features a shooting star flying around Sleeping Beauty’s castle while the song “When You Wish Upon a Star” plays. This tribute serves as a nod to the village.

To uncover the story behind this connection, a meeting was arranged with Disney historian Sebastien Durand at St Peter’s Church in Norton Disney. This church, dating back to the 11th century, holds the oldest trace of Disney’s history, family tree, and coat of arms in England. Walt Disney himself visited this church on July 7, 1949.

At that time, Walt Disney had already celebrated the 25th anniversary of the film studio he founded with his brother Roy. He had won 12 Oscars for films like “Fantasia” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” During the summer of 1949, while supervising the filming of “Treasure Island” in the UK, Walt’s daughters convinced him and his wife to spend a few days in Scotland. Walt agreed on the condition that they make a detour to visit the village named after his family.

Accompanied by a photographer and with a cine camera to capture home movies, the Disney family visited Norton Disney. Rare footage of their visit has been shared by the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco as part of the 100th anniversary celebrations. The footage shows the family posing for photos with Norton Disney signs, walking down the main road, and inspecting gravestones.

Walt Disney, who grew up in a rural village in America, connected with the people of Norton Disney and his own family history during his visit. The most significant discovery was made in St Peter’s Church, where the minister at the time explained to Walt that the De Isignys had come from France to England with William the Conqueror after the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and settled in the area. Over time, the name changed from De Isigny to d’Isigny, then D’Iseny, and eventually became Disney in the 13th or 14th centuries. Walt also saw the grand tomb of Sir William d’Isney from the 14th century, which displayed the family crest with three lions facing left, the symbol of Normandy.

This discovery left a lasting impression on Walt Disney. In 1965, for the 10th anniversary of Disneyland in California, Walt decided to add a coat of arms to Sleeping Beauty’s castle. When asked if there was a Disney crest, he remembered seeing it in Norton Disney in 1949. Since then, every Disney movie since 2006 has paid tribute to the village and its connection to the Disney family.

This unique story highlights the deep roots and personal history that inspired Walt Disney’s iconic creations.

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