Blog

ITV’s Victoria – preparing Harewood for filming

Victoria on ITV was filmed at Harewood and includes Jenna Coleman

Victoria, Jenna Coleman plays Queen Victoria, Cinnamon Drawing Room, Harewood House

Harewood House was recently used as a major set for ITV’s new series, Victoria. The crew filmed across Yorkshire for several months during winter 2015/16; Harewood was fortunate enough to be one of their key locations. Starring Jenna Coleman, the eight part series, which begins on 28th August, chronicles the life of Queen Victoria.

The crew used much of the State Floor, Below Stairs and parts of the Estate. Some areas will be more recognisable than others. Some amazing set dressing transformed Harewood into completely different locations including Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace.

Preparing Harewood House for fimling

In order to prepare for period dramas such as this, a lot of work is required in the house. Picture lights need to be removed from above paintings in the state rooms, book bandages which denote damage need to be disguised, clocks need to be wound down to avoid any unwanted chiming in the background, furniture needs to be moved to make way for set dressing, and light bulbs, carpets, porcelain and paintings all need to be removed and stored away safely; and so it goes on to prepare the house for filming. The House and Collections team catalogue the location of every single object which is moved to ensure their safety.

Below Stairs, work is also needed. Objects are removed and false walls, also known as flattage, are erected by the production company to conceal modern pipes and unwanted features.

Once the rooms are cleared and ready for use, the design team move in and the magic of television transforms the rooms and corridors. Every modern feature is disguised, from plug sockets to light switches, giving a truer reflection of the period. Paint colours are matched with our walls to make sure that coverings blend in seamlessly.

Furniture is brought in and the ingenious work of the set designers alter the rooms with which we are all so familiar. Chairs and tables bought cheaply at auction imitate fine pieces fit for a queen, rolls of fabric usually suitable for waistcoat lining imitate rich silks, and rented props add the finishing touches. Below Stairs, food decorates the kitchens and brings them to life.

Harewood House is a filming location

Things begin to get really busy once the main production crew arrive. The car park is used as a unit base with trucks brought in to cover every aspect of the production. The mobile studio includes hair, makeup, costume, and catering to name but a few. Lighting, camera, and toilets trucks are parked closer to the house so that the crew have easy access to their equipment (and the facilities!).

See Harewood House where ITV Victoria filmed

The lighting itself is a huge undertaking, particularly during winter. Often night-time needs to appear as day, and daytime needs to appear as night! Scaffolding rigs are erected to beam large lights into the rooms. Cherry pickers are also used to get light into awkward and high places in the house.

Inside the house, the crew bring in all sorts of special effects equipment to help create the scenes they are filming. Hazers are used to create a soft, smoky light, and fake fires are lit in our fireplaces. A professional firefighter is always on site to make sure there are no problems and to oversee the operation.

For a period drama such as Victoria, the costumes are immaculate and historical accuracy is considered at every point. From fake mutton chops to elegant jewellery, the costume department have their work cut out for them ensuring perfection in every scene. Once dressed, images are taken of the actors to ensure consistency in each shot.

Only now do the actors arrive on set and get in position to rehearse. Naturally, there is some downtime. It’s a truly wonderful sight to see a footman dressed in full regalia checking out his iPhone.

Harewood House is used as a location for ITV's Victoria

And action! Once the cameras start rolling the bustling house falls silent. Everyone is forced to whisper (if talking is absolutely necessary), and to tiptoe quietly across the old, creaky floorboards. Mobile phones are on silent, radios are turned down and any noise from outside is ceased. The directors and actors now take centre stage to bring the story prepared in the scripts to life.

Visit Yorkshire to see Harewood which featured in ITV's Victoria series

For all of us at Harewood, the Victoria production has been made even more special because of Harewood’s own connections with Queen Victoria. As Great Grandmother to Princess Mary, Countess of Harewood, we are fortunate enough to care for personal objects which Victoria owned. Pieces include a wonderful English School miniature of Queen Victoria replicating a Franz Xaver Winterhalter portrait, a writing set she owned, and a watercolour she herself painted. These objects will be on display in 2017 as part of Victorian Harewood alongside costumes from the production.

We are looking forward to seeing the programme air and we hope that you’ll be able to spot Harewood during the series.

Harewood’s Electricity Story

Visit Yorkshire to see rare Georgian chandliers
Science and technology are not topics typically associated with historic houses or their inhabitants. They are often well known for their fine furnishings and great works of art, but it is perhaps quite unusual, and unexpected, to think of them as thriving hubs of technological advancement.

New research undertaken at the University of Leeds has focused on the unique relationship between country houses and the history of innovation and experimentation. With inhabitants who could often afford to invest financially and socially in new and somewhat mysterious technologies, country houses became some of the earliest venues for the installation of electrical appliances. They also exposed its householders (sometimes reluctantly) to the enormous social change and development that these innovations brought with them.

Visit Yorkshire to see Chippendale lights at Harewood

Harewood House Trust, in collaboration with Dr Michael Kay from the University of Leeds, has recently been awarded a grant of £5000 from The Culture Capital Exchange to research and explore the little known story of electrification at Harewood House. Initial research has established a basic timeline of electrification and has already revealed some fascinating stories: from the intriguing routine of Harewood’s Lamp Man to the curious practice of employing electricians to ‘stand by’ during dinner parties.

The first phase of the House’s electrification took place in 1901, commissioned by the 5th Earl of Harewood. Archival evidence shows that there was seemingly fierce competition between early electrical contractors to obtain the job, and the merits and weaknesses of utilising hydropower was carefully considered. The installation of electricity was continued in the early 1930s when the 6th Earl of Harewood and his wife, Princess Mary, moved into Harewood House. The Princess Royal made a specific request for electric lighting in her new dressing room along with other modern conveniences, such as the installation of a lift and the purchase of a Hoover vacuum cleaner was made.

Dr Kay’s interesting research will inform a number of workshop events at Harewood House and the University of Leeds, featuring a short drama performance exploring the story of electrification from the perspective of staff and servants.

Visit Yorkshire to see Below Stairs in the House at Harewood

Join us on the 21 August at Harewood for a day of illuminating activities that will explore the theme of electricity within the House.  You will be able to try your hand at making cup and string telephones in our crafts activity, and also have a go at a new technology trail. Our family friendly drama performance, taking place in the Steward’s Room, will be followed by an opportunity talk to the characters and ask them questions. Participants will then be able to handle some early electrical equipment with Dr Kay and Harewood staff. There will also be a special display of Harewood’s historic light fittings and related archival documentation, both Below Stairs and on the State Floor, as well as a 10 minute Discovery Talk focusing on Dr Kay’s research.

Similar workshops will also be taking place at the University of Leeds on 11 August for Year 5 and 6 pupils from the IntoUniversity charity‘s summer educational programme, and 11 September as part of the Heritage Open Days programme.

Harewood host Emmerdale Cast at the Farm Experience

Emmerdale is based on Harewood Estate

Harewood was recently joined by cast and crew from ITV’s Emmerdale. Actors from the series met with national media to promote a major storyline from the programme. After a screening of the episode, Nicola Wheeler (Nicola), John McArdle (Ronnie), Pasha Bocarie (Rakesh), Gemma Atkinson (Carly), Louise Marwood (Chrissie), Kelvin Fletcher (Andy), Samantha Giles (Bernice) and John Bowe (Lawrence) took part in a Q&A and round table discussions.

Visit Yorkshire to see Harewood Farm

After lunch, the press and cast went out to explore Harewood House and grounds. The first stop was the new Farm Experience where cast members met the latest animal additions including pot-bellied pigs, alpacas, rabbits and pygmy goats.

Gemma said “Emmerdale Village is on the Harewood Estate but it is so self-contained, it’s rare we get the opportunity to see what else there is! The farm is great and the surroundings are so beautiful, it’s been a great day.”

Visit Yorkshire where Emmerdale is filmed at Harewood

After their Farm Experience, two cast members made their way to the Penguin Pool to feed the family of Humboldt’s a spot of lunch. Gemma and Louise, met with Celine, Harewood’s Penguin Keeper in the Bird Garden, where they were introduced to the family of 13 birds.

Celine said, “Gemma and Louise were naturals with the penguins. They were very relaxed and clearly animal lovers! They can lend a hand in the Bird Garden any time.

Alexis Guntrip, Harewood’s Marketing Manager said, “Harewood Estate has proudly been home to the Emmerdale village set since 1997. It was great to work with ITV and to see the cast enjoying the House and grounds.”

Visit Yorkshire to enjoy the Harewood Farm

Harewood Farm Experience is open throughout the school holidays with additional activities for families planned. Visitors can now purchase goat food from the Courtyard Information Centre and feed the hungry animals themselves or join the keepers for dedicated “Meet the Animal” sessions run daily. Nature trails, badge making, a Farm eye-spy trail and giant games including croquet and snakes and ladders are also dotted around the park.

A Great Art Collector: Henry Lascelles; the 6th Earl of Harewood: 14th July – 30th October 2016

The 6th Earl of Harewood was born Henry, Viscount Lascelles in 1882. From an early age, the 6th Earl developed a keen interest in fine art, and as a young man he travelled to Europe on the grand tour. This passion for the arts received a great boost in 1916, when his uncle, the eccentric 2nd Marquis of Clanricarde, died leaving the 6th Earl a considerable fortune of £2,500,000. This enabled the 6th Earl to develop his passion for acquiring art, establishing his reputation as one of the most renowned collectors of his age.

Come to Harewood and enjoy the unique opportunity to discover Renaissance masters which haven’t been exhibited to the public for years!

Visit Harewood in Yorkshire to see rare Renaissance collections

Drawing in charcoal with chalk highlight on blue paper: Samson slaying the Philistine, by Jocopo Robusti, Il Tintoretto, 16th century

Visit Yorkshire to enjoy Renaissance art

Handwritten invoice from Thomas Agnew & Sons requesting payment for purchases made by Viscount Lascelles from August 1917 to June 1919

The Attingham Summer School visits Harewood House

On Friday 15 July, Harewood House had the pleasure of hosting the Attingham Summer School, a prestigious study course for heritage professionals and decorative arts scholars from Europe and America, dedicated to the study of British historic houses and their collections.

It was an exciting opportunity for the House team to highlight some of the key pieces in Harewood’s diverse collection and to discuss this year’s new exhibitions and displays. A programme for the day was put together to emphasise Harewood’s unique and ever-evolving history.

Visit Harewood in Yorkshire for specialist art and collections tours

David Lascelles, the 8th Earl of Harewood, welcomed the group and gave an overview of Harewood’s history, including its association with the West Indian Slave trade – a background that Harewood shares with very many British institutions and one it tries to pro-actively engage with and acknowledge.

The fifty students were then split into three groups and given an in-depth tour of the State Floor by our knowledgeable House Stewards. Members of the Collections Team were on hand in a number of rooms to give a short focus on works of particular significance, such as the iconic portrait of Lady Worsley by Sir Joshua Reynolds,  J.M.W Turner’s famous views of Harewood House and the landscape, as well as stunning, early photographs by Roger Fenton. It was also an opportunity to discuss Harewood’s current conservation project on the Yellow Drawing Room’s original 18th century Axminster carpet.

A picnic lunch surrounded by stunning Capability Brown views was planned but naturally thwarted by the often unreliable Yorkshire climate. Trevor Nicholson, Harewood’s Head Gardener, had to be particularly creative in his overview of Harewood’s gardens from the shelter of the Steward’s Room.

Visit Yorkshire to enjoy art and collections tours at Harewood House

After lunch, students were treated to a number of expert lectures. Professor Ann Sumner, Harewood’s Historic Collections Advisor, gave an analysis of the restoration of the Gallery in the 1980s whilst revealing the fascinating history behind the Old Master paintings that now adorn its walls. Dame Rosalind Savill, former Director of the Wallace Collection and Sèvres expert, delivered an enthusiastic history of Harewood’s remarkable collection of Sèvres porcelain in the Dining Room.

Visit Yorkshire to enjoy contemporary art tours at Harewood House

The day was brought to a close with an In Conversation with artist and curator Diane House, 8th Countess of Harewood. The discussion revealed how the first dedicated contemporary art space in a country house, the Terrace Gallery, was formed and emphasised the unique relationship between contemporary artists and the Lascelles family, an aspect that the students found particularly interesting.

As is tradition at the end of each day on their tour, one of the students was nominated to give thanks to their hosts. On this occasion, an American 18th century historian, reflected how she often thinks about the history of sugar, when having a spoonful in her English cup of tea, and that she would always remember how illuminating Lord Harewood’s remarks on the relationship of Harewood and the sugar trade had been in this respect.

Overall, the day was a great success and we would like to thank the Attingham Summer School for the opportunity to share the treasures of Harewood House with its students.