Yorkshire country house once owned by Anne Lister's girlfriend to appear in second series of Gentleman Jack

Producers of BBC period drama Gentleman Jack have shot scenes from the second series at a country house that has genuine historic connections to Anne Lister.

By Ian Hirst
Saturday, 14th November 2020, 6:00 pm

Filming began in Yorkshire this week with Suranne Jones set to reprise her role as 19th-century heiress Lister, who owned and ran the Shibden Hall estate, near Halifax.

Several locations that appeared in the first series, which aired in spring 2019, were buildings that Lister had visited during her lifetime.

Cast and crew were seen this week at Langton Hall, a Georgian country house near Malton that was once the family home of one of Lister's early lovers prior to her 'marriage' to Ann Walker - Isabella Norcliffe.

Langton Hall

Parents doing the school run in the normally sleepy village of Langton were surprised to be met with traffic management lights and horse-drawn carriages blocking the highway.

Authentic gravel from the period had to be laid on the hall's drive, and special gates were fitted to the entrance in the formal late Victorian style.

Isabella was the daughter of a wealthy landowner and military man who held the rank of lieutenant-colonel. She met Lister when they boarded at the Manor School in York in the early 1800s, and began a relationship with her when they were around 21. Lister found Isabella's family, who were country gentry, to be more sophisticated than her own, with their links to industry.

However, Isabella reputedly drank heavily, and Lister decided they would not be compatible as life partners. They remained friends and occasional lovers, and Isabella never married. She died aged 61. Mariana Lawton, who appears in Gentleman Jack as another of Lister's former lovers, was a schoolfriend of both women.

Langton Hall remained in the Norcliffe family, passing to descendants who leased it to a prep school between 1946 and 2011, and during World War Two it was requisitioned by the army and used as a base to plan the D-Day landings. It is now owned by 37-year-old property developer William Langton, whose name bears no relation to that of the house.

The BBC have confirmed that character actress Joanna Scanlan (No Offence, The Thick of It) will join the cast to play Isabella in series two.

Filming is also expected to take place at Shibden Hall, the Listers' ancestral seat now owned by Calderdale Council, as the series will focus on Lister and her new wife's domestic life on the estate and bid to become a 'power couple' in Halifax.

Sewerby Hall, near Bridlington, is another country house that is being used as a filming location.

Set in 1834, the new series is played out in the context of social unrest in rapidly industrialising Halifax.

Gentleman Jack writer and creator Sally Wainwright said: “I'm more thrilled than I've ever been about anything that we're returning with a new series of Gentleman Jack. We've had such an extraordinary response from so many viewers all over the world about the first series, and I can't wait to show them what we've come up with this time.

“Their excitement for the show has been a joy, and an inspiration. I've been in a little bit of heaven once again spending so much time deep in Anne's diaries as I've written the scripts, and can't wait to see the fabulous, joyous magic and detail that Suranne and Sophie will bring to it all. I hope people love it as much as they did the first.”