Season one commences in 1832 when a worldly and well-travelled Anne (Suranne Jones) returns to Halifax in West Yorkshire to take over the management of her family’s much-neglected ancestral home, which she has inherited. To pay for the costly renovation works, Anne realizes she must re-establish the old Lister family coal mines and marry well, but she has no intention of marrying a man. Dressed head-to-toe in black, from top hat to tailored greatcoat, Anne is a determined and dapper figure who captures the attention of many locals. Including her neighbor, the shy, wealthy young heiress Ann Walker.
Filming locations include Shibden Hall in West Yorkshire, an historic house that was the actual Lister family home. Dating back to 1420, Shibden Hall’s architecture is a mix of styles that echo its fascinating and varied history. Notable elements include a Tudor half-timbered frontage, as well as a Gothic-style tower housing the library that was one of several improvements commissioned by Anne Lister. She also commissioned a landscape gardener to add major features to the extensive grounds, including a boating lake and rock gardens.
Following Anne Lister’s death in 1840, Shibden Hall passed to Ann Walker. Upon her death, it reverted back to the Lister family. They donated it to the local council in 1933 and it became a museum and public park.
Visitor numbers trebled when the series first aired in 2019, including a notable increase in American and Canadian tourists. Although Shibden Hall was closed to the public during 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, expectations are that visitor numbers will continue to escalate, especially with a second season now in production.
Ann Walker’s home, Crow Nest, is represented by Sutton Park, an 18th-century stately home near York that is currently home of the father- in-law of former British Prime Minister, David Cameron. The house is open to the public for a select number of guided tours during the summer.
Anne Lister and Ann Walker were notionally married in Holy Trinity Church in York. A blue English Heritage plaque outside the church marks the occasion when they took Holy Communion together in 1834 as an affirmation of their same-sex relationship. Thereafter, the couple considered themselves married. This ceremony was recreated on location in the church for Gentleman Jack’s season one finale.
The series had special resonance with women and with the LGBTQ+ community. Those visiting the filming locations should also take a detour to the nearby mill town of Hebden Bridge. With a vibrant and artsy community, this beguiling little town is known as the UK’s lesbian capital; it is claimed to have more lesbians per square foot than any- where else in the UK.
Netflix drama The Crown has reigned over the world of television since its debut in 2016. Over the past four seasons, it has depicted the life of Queen Elizabeth II (played by Claire Foy and Olivia Colman, with Imelda Staunton set to wear the crown for sea- son five) in a tale that encompasses everything from royal romances to political scandals. Although iconic royal residences including Bucking- ham Palace, Windsor Castle, Balmoral and Sandringham feature prominently, they were unavailable to the production team as actual locations. Filming instead took place at many stately homes throughout Britain, the majority of which are open to the public, so you don’t need an invitation from Her Majesty to be able to visit them!
Wilton House in Wiltshire stood in for many interior shots of Buckingham Palace. One of its most magnificent staterooms, the Double Cube Room, appears in almost every episode of The Crown, representing one of the palace’s formal rooms. The lavishly decorated Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire was used for interior shots of Windsor Castle, with exterior scenes filmed at Burghley House in Lincolnshire. This grand Tudor mansion also features in several films including Pride & Prejudice and The Da Vinci Code. One of Britain’s finest Victorian stately homes, Somerleyton Hall in Suffolk was used to represent Sandringham, the country estate where the Royal Family traditionally celebrate Christmas. The stylish Art Deco Eltham Palace in south London doubled as the Queen’s quarters on the Royal Yacht Britannia.
Representing the Queen’s beloved Scottish retreat, Balmoral is the grand Victorian Gothic Ardverikie Castle in Inverness-shire. Although a private family home, it’s available as a wedding venue. In addition, there are six holiday cottages on the grounds, and those staying here get exclusive tour access inside the 19th-century castle, and well as the opportunity to feed the deer with one of the Estate stalkers. Ardverikie was also a location for the new James Bond film No Time To Die.
The imposing Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire stood in for Westminster Abbey on two occasions in season one: for the Queen’s wedding and for her Coronation. The interior of Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire substituted for St Paul’s Cathedral for the state funeral of Winston Churchill in season three, and for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in season four.