It’s only natural to want to emulate what you see on screen. But while we can’t all necessarily set the nation’s pulses racing by emerging dripping wet from the lake at Lyme Park, as Colin Firth did in Pride and Prejudice, or thunder through space and time like Thor in Avengers: Endgame, or even cast spells at the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry…we can tread the same steps as our on-screen heroes, and get a little bit closer to the glamour of the silver screen at the same time.
Indeed, location scouts and production companies have returned to the North of England again and again, decade after decade, and by exploring the region through their lens, it’s possible to appreciate anew the region’s landscapes and architecture. Stately homes can be imagined as otherworldly palaces, industrial streets transform into bustling New York, stark beaches warp into desolate alien planets and ancient rocks become home to our literary icons.
Of course, the North of England has welcomed plenty of Hollywood types over the years, but we’re also a region with our own stories and identity. From the famed long-running soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale, to adaptations of the work of the Brontë sisters, and the recent output of writer Sally Wainwright, fans of film and television can get a real sense of the North by visiting the sites chosen for its fictions and fantasies.
Here are our picks
Lyme Park, Disley, Stockport, Cheshire, SK12 2NR - Visit now
Cheshire’s Lyme Park has been around in some form or another for some six centuries, and there are plenty of reasons to visit this grand Grade-I listed hall and its surrounding parkland. We’re interested in its use on-screen though, and while Lyme has been featured in a number of different productions, none have stirred the public consciousness in quite the same way as the 1995 BBC television adaptation of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice.
Colin Firth’s appearance as the series’ romantic lead Mr. Darcy helped to launch his career, transforming him into a highly marketable sex symbol and setting him on the path to bonefide moviestardom. All the actor needed was a little help from the lake outside of Lyme Hall, where his Mr. Darcy startled a generation as he took a dip in his undergarments, before emerging to meet Jennifer Ehle’s Miss Bennet.
Durham Cathedral, The College, Durham, DH1 3EH - Visit now
Sometimes a location is so spectacular that it simply demands the camera’s attention. That is certainly the case with Durham Cathedral. This Norman-era building (work started in 1093) forms part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it has the IMDB page to match that stature, having doubled as both Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and Asgard.
Since its first major on-screen appearance in the Christopher Eccleston film Jude, the Cathedral has appeared as The Palace of Westminster in 1998’s Elizabeth starring Cate Blanchett, and the first two entries in the Harry Potter series. Notably, Durham Cathedral also formed the basis for the palace set design in 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman. But it took on an extraterrestrial presence for its role in Marvel’s gargantuan 2019 blockbuster Avenger’s Endgame, where the Cathedral became part of an Asgardian palace on Thor’s home planet.
Sleddale Hall, Sleddale Hall, Cumbria, CA10 3NE - Visit now
Sleddale Hall is Crow Crag, the Lake District cottage owned by Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths) in Bruce Robinson’s cult 1987 British film Withnail and I. Located in Cumbria’s Wet Sleddale Valley, fans of the misanthropic comedy, which stars Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann as boozed-up, starving actors looking to escape London for a few days, will feel instantly at home.
The hall was utilised for both the exteriors and ground floor interiors of Crow Crag, but today the building is a private residence, having been restored in 2012 in a manner sympathetic to its status as an iconic British film location. While it is not open to the public generally, fans have visited frequently over the years, and Eden Arts’ Picnic Cinema have hosted annual screenings of Withnail and I — with fancy dress, glamping and dancing — for around a decade.
At first glance, Manchester’s Northern Quarter doesn’t scream blockbuster film location, but put up a few street signs and add a yellow taxicab and the city’s hippest neighbourhood soon transforms into a Hollywood approximation of New York City. Productions to have taken advantage of the industrial architecture and preserved streetscapes include Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) and Spider-Man spin-off Morbius (2022), as well as Alfie (2004), The Crown, and the 2019 Sky TV production of Das Boot.
The NQ has also found work as period doubles of other UK cities. It was cast as 1920s Birmingham in Peaky Blinders (Cillian Murphy’s Thomas Selby shot the place up) and London in the Robert Downey Jr. version of Sherlock Holmes (2009). Of course, the Northern Quarter has appeared as itself too, with Manchester classics from 24 Hour Party People to Life on Mars filming scenes amongst the independent bars, shops and cafes.
Shibden Hall, Lister's Road, Halifax, HX3 6XG - Visit now
The handsome Shibden Hall has been subject to renewed interest in recent years owing to its use in Sally Wainwright’s BBC period drama Gentleman Jack. The series, which starred Suranne Jones, dramatised the life of landowner and industrialist Anne Lister — a former resident of Shibden, famous for her coded diaries which detail a lifetime of same-sex relationships that have helped ear her the moniker ‘the first modern lesbian’.
The series is set in 1832, but the history of Shibden Hall stretches back to 1420. It has been modified over its history, but the Tudor half-timber facade remains. Today tourists can explore the lives of many of the Hall’s former residents. Included amongst the artefacts on display are Lister’s travel writing case, music books, portraits and her funeral hatchment. Shibden was also used as a location for Mike Leigh’s Peterloo.
St George’s Hall, Liverpool, St George's Place , Liverpool, Merseyside, L1 1JJ - Visit now
How many buildings have doubled as the Old Bailey, New York and Gotham, hosted Michael B. Jordan and Daniel Day Lewis and featured in a Harry Potter movie? With its grand interiors and imposing facade, Liverpool’s St. George’s Hall has quite the IMDB page, and that’s before you get to its starring roles in episodes of Flog It and Antiques Roadshow.
Appearances in Beatles-related films such as John Lennon biopic, Nowhere Boy and fantasy musical rom-com Yesterday, are perhaps expected. As is its role in Jim Sheriden’s 1993 Oscar-nominated drama In the Name of the Father.
But this Grade I listed Neoclassical building was also the location for Adonis and Ricky Conlan’s weigh in in Hollywood’s 2015 Rocky spinoff Creed; it appears as Gotham City Hall in the Robert Pattinson-starring The Batman, and shows up in wizarding blockbuster Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — impressive.
Blackpool Tower, The Blackpool Tower, The Promenade, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 4BJ - Visit now
An icon of the British seaside, Blackpool Tower has a storied on-screen history. Many will be familiar with the frequent appearances of its grand ballroom on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing and the unique sprung dance floor, ornate design and Wurlitzer organ have certainly played host to countless celebrity dancers over the years. But Strictly is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Tower’s use in film and television.
The 158 metre tall structure was used on screen as far back as the 1940s, when British thrillers Dick Barton Strikes Back and Forbidden made dramatic use out of its imposing architecture. Blackpool Tower also appeared in 1995 comedy Funny Bones, Tim Burton’s 2016 film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and, of course there’s The Harry Hill Movie. Meanwhile, American rockers The Killers brought a bit of glamour to the tower when they cast actress Winona Ryder in their Blackpool-set video for ‘Here with Me.’
Blast Beach, Hawthorn, Seaham, SR7 7PR - Visit now
Ellen Ripley in the North East of England? It might sound far fetched, but the opening scenes of Fight Club director David Fincher’s underrated Alien 3 saw ‘The Blast’ area of Dawdon Beach transformed into the coastline of the planet Fiorina 161 — the unforgiving site of a foundry and maximum security, all-male prison, stocked with some of the galaxy’s worst offenders.
The film opens with Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, crash landing in a Colonial Marine spaceship into the surf on Durham’s Blast Beach. As it appears in Alien 3, the landscape is imposing and dystopian, dominated by huge industrial machinery and nightmarish weather.
In real life, the area was once home to the biggest coal mine in Europe, and to some of the worst coastline pollution in the world. Fans will be glad to hear that it remains pleasingly atmospheric, but thanks to a clean-up project involving the National Trust, today the area is known for its spectacular wildflowers.
Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M13 0FE - Visit now
Manchester’s Victoria Baths has appeared on screen so many times it offers a ‘Behind the Screens’ tour for television aficionados. The 1906 Victorian water palace is certainly impressive to behold, with its glittering tiled pool, mezzanine viewing area and assorted back rooms. The Baths have featured numerous times in Brummie gangster series Peaky Blinders (see if you can find the spot where a famous Tom Hardy scene took place), as well as Houdini & Doyle, Coronation Street and Manc-classic Cold Feet.
Victoria Baths has a storied history, and its extensive restoration programme was partially funded by early filming for the likes of Cracker and Prime Suspect, which took advantage of its derelict state. Indeed, the building has acted as a morgue, prison, hospital, restaurant, auction house, offices, stables, fish market and crown court over the years. Today’s tour guests are invited to walk through seldom-seen areas, where original props and photographs illuminate key scenes.
Stockport Plaza Cinema, Mersey Square, Stockport, Greater Manchester, SK1 1SP - Visit now
Stockport Plaza is another filming location that has repeatedly wooed television productions with its versatile grandeur. Sat right in the middle of the town centre, this 1932 Art Deco super cinema and variety theatre was most recently visited by star Cillian Murphy as it was transformed into Birmingham’s Bingley Hall for an episode of Peaky Blinders.
In 2007, the Plaza appeared briefly but memorably in cult TV series Life on Mars. The Manchester-set programme, in which a policeman is hit by a car and wakes up in 1973, made full use of the working Compton Theatre Organ and its ability to rise dramatically from below the floor of the auditorium. Other productions to have utilised the Plaza include the BBC’s television film Eric and Ernie (2011) and the series Tina and Bobby (2017).
Brudenell Social Club, 33 Queen's Road, Leeds, LS6 1NY - Visit now
One of Leeds’ most beloved institutions is well known for its live music, with a mix of emerging and smaller touring acts performing alongside some bigger names eager to work a more intimate stage. Brudenell Social Club has accommodated the likes of Tom Jones, Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand over the years, with the latter’s famed secret gig (performed under a pseudonym) filmed and released for fans.
That’s not the only time the venue has appeared on screen though. Brudenell also features in David Peace’s three-part 2009 drama Red Riding — one of the seminal pieces of Yorkshire television — playing a key part as ‘The Karachi Club’. Starring the likes of Sean Bean, Paddy Considine, Maxine Peake, Andrew Garfield and Rebecca Hall, the drama sends viewers into the murky world of police corruption and organised crime in the 1970s and 80s, with the crimes of the Yorkshire Ripper ever present in the background.
Harewood House, Sandy Gate, Harewood, Leeds, LS17 9LE - Visit now
Located just outside of Leeds, this West Yorkshire country house dates back to 1759, and sits in an impressive 1,000 acres of landscaped grounds. The handsome interiors and exteriors have not escaped the attention of locations departments who have made steady use of the Georgian mansion, formal gardens, ancient woodland and rustic farm buildings. Rather grandly, Harewood House stood in for Buckingham Palace in ITV’s Victoria (2016-19), while it has also appeared in Sally Wainwright’s Gentleman Jack (2019) and myriad other period pieces, including Death Comes to Pemberley (2013) and the Downton Abbey (2019) film.
But the Harewood House Estate has an even greater claim to fame. Yorkshire-set soap Emmerdale has filmed here since the late 1990s, when a timber-framed, stone-faced version of the famous fictional village constructed within the grounds. The set isn’t open to fans unfortunately, but the nearby ITV studios do run tours which allow fans to experience the interior sets, while Esholt — home to the original Woolpack Inn — is just a half hour drive away.
Stanley Dock, Stanley Dock, Regent Rd, Liverpool, L3 0AN - Visit now
With a mix of historical architecture, museums, amenities and picturesque views out over the River Mersey, Liverpool’s docklands are an essential stop for any visitor to the city. But it’s not just tourists that have been drawn to the waterside. Stanley Dock, located in the Vauxhall area of the city, has caught the eye of both national and international location scouts, eager to capitalise on the iconic 19th century brick and steel architecture.
Take a walk around and you’ll see just why producers decided that this was the perfect location to double for pre-war New York when they were seeking a spot for Chris Evans to chase down a submarine in Captain America: The First Avenger. Evans isn’t the only A-lister to appear here on film either. Former Avenger, Robert Downey Jnr filmed scenes for Sherlock Holmes, while Cillian Murphy strutted his stuff for Peaky Blinders.
Carnforth Station, The Heritage Centre, Warton Road, LA5 9TR - Visit now
Few places are as utterly entwined with their onscreen heritage as Carnforth Station in Lancashire. The Victorian railway station takes centre stage in David Lean’s iconic 1945 romance Brief Encounter, where it serves as the meeting point for Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard’s married (to other people) characters as they embark on a frustrated, forbidden courtship for the ages.
With shooting taking place before the end of the Second World War, Carnforth Station was utilised as it was far enough away from the country’s major cities to avoid rules relating to the national blackout. Of course, as anybody who has seen Brief Encounter can attest, it is also a handsome location in its own right. Today the station boasts a Heritage Centre complete with exhibitions, a shop, and a mini-cinema that showcases Lean’s British classic.
Coronation Street (Media City), Media City UK, The Studios From Dock 10, Manchester, M50 2EQ - Visit now
For soap fans, no Northern filming location is going to top Coronation Street. The creation of Granada Television, Coronation Street has been on the air since 1960, making it the world’s longest running soap opera. Things have changed in Weatherfield over the years, but the iconic cobbled street, with its terraced houses and the Rovers Return Inn have remained a constant part of British culture.
The set itself has undergone several iterations, and while it was located in the old Granada Studios for much of its history, filming now takes place at Trafford Wharf, in MediaCityUK. For fans looking to walk the same cobbles as the likes of Bet Lynch, Ken Barlow and Vera Duckworth, ITV run fully guided tours, which are available to book in advance.
“There’s a real depth to the landscape – it’s so dramatic and awe-inspiring. Now I see Calderdale – Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Ripponden,
Sowerby Bridge and Elland – as really beautiful. That’s the area I think of as Happy Valley territory.” writer-producer-director Sally Wainwright told The Guardian.
Recently awarded the Freedom of Calderdale, Wainwright has almost developed her own television industry as creator of the likes of Scott & Bailey, Last Tango in Halifax, Gentlemen Jack, and, of course, Happy Valley. These northern dramas all make frequent use of the landscapes and heritage buildings of the area, bringing work and national attention to the area.
Calder Valley town Hebden Bridge is a tourist stop in its own right, with its stunning picturesque setting, independent shops and restaurants bringing visitors and tourists from miles around. As an added incentive, Wainwright fans can track down The White Lion, wander the Rochdale Canal and visit Nelson’s Wine Bar or Silly Billy’s Toyshop, all of which have appeared on screen in recent years.
Brimham Rocks, Brimham Moor Road, Summerbridge, Harrogate, HG3 4DW - Visit now
An ancient and historic wonder, it’s easy to see what would attract location scouts to Yorkshire’s Brimham Rocks. Now under the stewardship of the National Trust, the site is most notable for its use in the 1996 adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, serving as a backdrop for the scene where Charlotte Gainsbourg’s Jane and William Hurt’s Rochester first meet.
But the Jane Eyre crew are far from alone in having spotted the cinematic potential of this atmospheric formation of balancing rocks. The 1970 adaptation of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights also featured Brimham Rocks, as did fellow period adaptation The Hound of the Baskervilles (1988), and television series’ A Woman of Substance (1984) and Ivanhoe (1997).
Castle Howard, Castle Howard Estate, York, YO60 7DA - Visit now
Castle Howard has lent its majesty to all manner of film and television productions over the years. Film buffs will appreciate its appearance in Lady L (1965) with Sophia Loren, and Stanley Kubrick’s legendary Barry Lyndon (1975) where the grand palace appeared as the exterior for Countess of Lyndon’s ‘Castle Hackton’. While Evelyn Waugh fans will note its use in both the 1981 television and 2008 film adaptations of the novel Brideshead Revisited.
More recently, the North Yorkshire home of the Howard family featured in frothy Netflix phenomenon Bridgerton (2020) as the setting for Clyvedon House and ITV’s Victoria (2015), as well as Bollywood rom com Shandaar (2015). Of course, the most cultured among us will recognise Castle Howard as the estate ruled by a familiar looking orange tabby cat in 2006’s live action/computer animated comedy Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties.
Allerton Castle, Allerton Mauleverer, North Yorkshire, HG5 0SE - Visit now
This Grade I-listed Gothic revival castle has been attracting productions with increasing frequency thanks to pristine period decor and air of Victorian glamour. The building dates back to the 1840s, and has recently been seen in ITV’s Victoria (2016), and literary adaptations including The Secret Garden (2020) and the BBC’s version of Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders (2018) starring John Malkovic and Rupert Grint.
Located in North Yorkshire, Allerton Castle is set in 200 acres of countryside and formal gardens. While it might not be a surprise to see it pop up in British productions, the castle has also earned international recognition. In 2008, the Indian horror film 1920 cast Allerton Castle as its spooky candlelit star, while it was also utilised in 2015 Bollywood hit rom com Shandaar.