Historic South Yorkshire house Wentworth Woodhouse played a key role in TV drama Victoria
A South Yorkshire stately home is fast becoming a popular TV and film location for TV and film period dramas, doubling up for royal palaces and Victorian slums alike.
Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham has been used for the TV drama Victoria and will appear in the upcoming film of Downton Abbey, due out this September.
It will also feature in Gentleman Jack, a new BBC1 series starting tomorrow, Sunday. Starring Suranne Jones, the series is based on the true story of Yorkshire Victorian landowner Anne Lister, who saw no reason to hide the fact that she loved women.
In recent years it’s been a location for the TV series Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and films Mr Turner and Darkest Hour, among others.
Locations for the latest series of Victoria include episode one, when the French King Louis Phillipe was pictured fleeing his palace during the French revolution 1848 - or rather, the Whistlejacket Room and Marble Saloon!
The house events officer Emmaline Masterson said that the illusion was created by clever placement of prop pictures and bird cages. The Whistlejacket Room doubled up as the king’s parlour.
The Van Dyck Room was seen briefly as the royal family fled through it and was used as a bedroom in Gentleman Jack. Emmaline said that film-makers have to be careful not to include the replica of George Stubbs’ famous painting of the Marquess of Rockingham’s racehorse Whistlejacket, as they can be fined for breaching copyright.
Boxes on the wall of the room are actually props from a film shoot.
The Marble Saloon also doubled as an interior for Buckingham Palace. It has historical links to the palace as Queen Victoria stayed at Wentworth with the Fitzwilliam family as an 18-year-old princess and was inspired to copy some of the look of the house. In episode two, the Camelia House in the gardens was the backdrop to a boxing match taking place in Hyde Park as the Queen drove past. The Camellia House is currently roofless and almost derelict and awaiting restoration.
A Victorian slum visited by Prince Albert was filmed in a passageway called Dog Kennel Alley that runs to the Fives Court. The paintwork was made artificially dirty and posters and a street sign put up are still in position.
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Another London street scene was reproduced using the front steps of the house, with carriages driving around.
Emmaline said: “We were watching it from a window. We have to watch what’s going on as filming is always ‘chaperoned’ to see that the house, grounds and people are protected. We have to be within eyeshot and earshot.”
Episode four focused on London's cholera outbreak and much of that was also filmed in Dog Kennel Alley. A hospital scene featuring dying patients was shot in the Pink Corridor outside the gift shop and cafe. It is now the blue corridor as special permission was given for it to be repainted and the colour was retained. Laura Morgan, playing Florence Nightingale, had to work with a tiny pet owl that the famous nurse kept in her pocket. A male owl called Hercules played Athena.
Emmaline said it was a pleasure to work with the actors, including Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes as the royal couple, and the crew during the four-week shoot: “If you work well with them, you get goodwill in return.”
She added: “The location manager for Victoria is great. He knows the house and has seen how the house has changed.”
The house is currently covered in scaffolding for roof repair work. Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust is working on the huge task of restoring the house.
Some locations can be seen on pre-booked tours of the house, which is open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm. For details, go to wentworthwoodhouse.org.uk or call 01226 351161.