Yorkshire’s stunning landscape and magnificent architecture has graced the big and small screen for decades, from the first moving images filmed at Leeds’ Roundhay Park in 1888, to Brideshead Revisited at Castle Howard and BBC One’s Gentleman Jack.
Perhaps the most famous British TV series of the last decade, Downton Abbey, was set in the fictional Yorkshire estate of Downton; and although Hampshire’s Highclere Castle was chosen to be the titular home of the Crawley family, the sequel film will include plenty of Yorkshire landmarks for eagle-eyed viewers to spot.
The worldwide hit TV series ran on ITV between 2010 and 2015,
Downton’s Oscar-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes has admitted the film’s plot is loosely based on King George V (the current Queen’s grandfather) and his wife Queen Mary’s stay at Rotherham’s Wentworth Woodhouse in 1912, during which they visited local mining communities including Elsecar Colliery.
In the film, the royals instead stay with the Crawleys at Downton Abbey, but Wentworth Woodhouse still makes an appearance, with its halls and rooms doubling up as interior shots for Buckingham Palace and the Harewood House ballroom.
It’s not the first time this grade I listed building, which features the longest façade of any country house in England has been portrayed as Buckingham Palace. The Darkest Hour (based on Churchill) is just one of a number of films to have been used as an alternative to the most famous royal residence, with ITV’s Victoria also taking advantage of the majestic building.
Harewood House, which was home to Princess Mary (King George V’s daughter, and Queen Elizabeth’s aunt) for more than 30 years, appears as itself in the new blockbuster. As the King and Queen visit their daughter at the estate (which lies between Leeds and Harrogate), a grand ball is thrown – with shots of the outside terrace even featuring in the official movie trailer.
Like Wentworth Woodhouse, Harewood is no stranger to film crews, with Victoria and Emmerdale both featuring areas of the estate in recent years.
But it’s not just stately homes that offer amazing shots of Yorkshire; Bradford’s Little Germany has appeared on the silver screen many times.
Founded by German Jewish merchants, the 19th century warehouses are now in the heartland of the UNESCO City of Film and have appeared in Peaky Blinders, Gentleman Jack, and Red Riding to name just a few! Look closely and you may spot the neoclassical architecture as a police station in the movie version of Downton Abbey.
The beautiful images of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway that feature in the opening scenes (as seen in the Harry Potter movies) alongside the incredibly well-preserved Pickering Railway Station standing in for London’s iconic Kings Cross top off the bill that showcase Yorkshire as a destination fit for a King.
Visit Screen Yorkshire’s Filmed in Yorkshire website for more information about productions that have filmed in Yorkshire and the venues they visited.