Victoria: Pinewood, but more posh - film sets fit for a Queen in Yorkshire

It is Pinewood but more posh - a pop-up film studio inside one of Yorkshire's grandest residences.

Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria.
Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria.

But the production facility at Harewood House operates so discreetly that the thousands who visited the vintage Volks­wagen show in its grounds two weeks ago would have had no idea that just a few hundred yards away, a young Queen Victoria was cradling her baby daughter.

They would also not have known that further down the estate, a punch-up was being staged for the serial, Emmerdale.

The second series of ITV’s acclaimed period drama, Victoria, which will be screened from Sunday, saw designers turning Harewood into above and below-stairs quarters of Buckingham Palace, for a shoot that began in February and did not finally wrap until last week.

Other rooms of the palace were built inside an old air force base at Church Fenton near Tadcaster - now one of the largest sound stages in the country.

The two locations are among ten in Yorkshire that will double for early Victorian Britain. Bramham Park, which is staging this weekend’s Leeds music festival, will stand in for the grounds of Windsor Castle, and Allerton Castle for the home of Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert.

Westminster Abbey, where the young Queen’s first child, also called Victoria, was christened, was recreated inside Beverley Minster, and other scenes were shot in the areas around Ripon, Leeds and Rotherham,

But it is Harewood and Church Fenton that have seen the bulk of the activity for the new series, which picks up Victoria’s life where the first one left off. In the cavernous, empty spaces of Church Fenton, entire palace rooms were screwed together from plywood.

Jamie Sumner, the Sheffield-based location manager, said: “The scale of the shoot was incredible. The reconstructions were so realistic, you could almost believe you were there. But then you’d look up and see pigeons roosting in the roof.”

At Harewood, the ornate furniture was taken to one side and replaced with even more elaborate, but worthless, prop tables and chairs. “It makes you appreciate the real stuff,” said one of the crew. “Props are hardly Chippendales.”

Mr Sumner said: “There is such a variety here, from the architecture of Leeds and York to the museums and stately homes, that there is often no need to go anywhere else.”

ITV’s producers. Mammoth Screen, took over Harewood’s old kitchen, pastry room, below stairs corridors and parts of the main library, as well as front and rear exterior settings - the colour of the house’s stone matching that of the palace.

Harewood says the filming fees and TV exposure makes an important contribution to the upkeep of the place, and that the wider economy - especially the hospitality sector - benefits from the presence of such a large crew.

Jane Marriott, director of the Harewood House Trust, said: “Costumes from Victoria that have been on display alongside personal items owned by Queen Victoria have added real authenticity to the exhibitions.”

Harewood is the permanent outdoor location for Emmerdale, with a purpose-built set in the grounds. Other dramas to have been filmed there include ITV’s At Home with the Braith­waites, and the BBC’s PD James adaptation, Death Comes to Pemberley, in which Victoria’s Jenna Coleman, also appeared.

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