It’s the north of England, 1832, and gutsy Yorkshire heiress Anne Lister returns to her family home after years of travel, intent on marrying a woman to enhance her fortunes. The TV series Gentleman Jack is based on Lister's real diaries, tracing the life of a remarkable industrialist, landowner, and one of the first modern lesbians. Some of the gorgeous filming locations featured on screen even have strong connections to the real Anne Lister, including her actual home; follow in her footsteps with our guide to these northern delights.

Actor Suranne Jones dressed as Anne Lister, stands holding her top hat with the Yorkshire landscape as a backdrop
Yorkshire plays a starring role in Gentleman Jack Photo © BBC

In the 1830s, Halifax was at the coalface of England’s industrial revolution. Today it’s a workaday town that’s off the tourist circuit, but its sandstone Georgian houses and giant quadrangle Piece Hall – now home to a summer street food festival and interesting indie shops – remain as handsome legacies of the era.

Anne Lister's Shibden Hall

Two miles northeast of the town centre, accessible by local bus, is Shibden Hall, the estate that Anne Lister (played by Suranne Jones) returns to and one of the main bases for filming. It dates to 1420 and is surrounded by parklands with walking trails, a miniature railway and boating lake. The hall itself is a hodgepodge of architectural styles, with an attractive timber-framed frontage, a 17th-century outhouse that has displays on traditional crafts such as blacksmithing and coopering, and a recreated brewhouse.

Aerial view of the top of Wainhouse Tower, looking down over flat green land and the town of Halifax with red roofs
An aerial view of Halifax, Anne Lister's hometown © Alastair Wallace/Shuttertock

The social-climbing landowner, who became financially independent after inheriting Shibden Hall from her uncle, was a prolific diarist and the writing she left behind totalled more than four million words. The portion of the diaries detailing her lesbian affairs with other women was written in code for her own protection. Its explosive content was kept hidden for over a hundred years, until a local historian called Helena Whitbread stumbled across it in the 1980s.

The hall closed to the public for several months during filming so the production crew could have the run of it as a TV set, but it’s now open to the public again. Inside, the real Anne Lister’s portrait hangs on the wall and visitors can watch a 25-minute video about her life. A touchscreen display allows you to flick through some of her diary entries.

The exterior of Shibden Hall on a sunny day, featuring its Tudor half-timbered frontage
Shibden Hall is now reopened and welcoming Gentleman Jack fans © Calderdale Museums

Bradford on screen

From Shibden Hall it’s just a short hop to Bradford (on the same bus route), where some of the street scenes for Gentleman Jack were filmed in an area called Little Germany. This part of central Bradford is named after the German merchants that erected grand townhouses here in the 1850s during the city’s heyday as the wool manufacturing capital of the world; today, 55 of them are heritage listed. Halifax and Huddersfield town centres were also used for many street scenes.

North Yorkshire filming locations

Some of the other Gentleman Jack filming locations are in North Yorkshire, renowned as an area crammed with stately homes. The estate of Ann Walker, the neighbouring heiress who Anne Lister woos (played by Peaky Blinders’ Sophie Rundle) no longer exists so the TV crew used Sutton Park instead. This early Georgian estate, eight miles from York, is open to the public even though it's still the home of Sir Reginald Sheffield and his wife Lady Sheffield. The family once lived at what is now Buckingham Palace, and much of their art collection comes from there. (Side note: if you visit on a Saturday, you can also visit the eco-pioneering craft distillery that recently opened a mile down the road.)

A Georgian-era room decorated in opulent style with pink brocade carpet, marble fireplace, chandelier and gold framed mirror.
Sutton Park's 'Chinese Room' will be familiar to fans of the show © Sutton Park

Several sites in York, England’s medieval northern capital, also appear in Gentleman Jack. Fairfax House, a fashionable 18th-century townhouse and now museum, was used for interior shots of Vere Cameron’s house. Treasurer’s House, a historic house museum that runs regular ghost tours, featured as the public bar in a lodging house. York’s time-warped Church of the Holy Trinity will also appear in a future episode.

Grays Court, a wonderfully stooped medieval mansion where King James I once dined, now a hotel, also features in York street scenes that were filmed around York Minster and along Chapter House Street. Tourists can stay here or drop by for afternoon tea.

An evening cityscape shot of York, with York Minster in the background and more modern redbrick buildings in the foreground.
The streets around York Minster were used as outdoor scenes © David Ionut/Shutterstock

Other filming locations included Newby Hall near Ripon, where a 2007 TV adaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park was filmed, Broughton Hall in the Yorkshire Dales, Harewood House near Leeds, and Leeds’ Elizabethan manor house Oakwell Hall, where Charlotte Bronte once stayed.

Gentleman Jack started airing on HBO from 22 April in the US and BBC One on 19 May in the UK and has just been commissioned for a second series. It was written by BAFTA-winning UK writer Sally Wainwright, produced for the BBC by Lookout Point and co-produced with HBO.

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