The timber-framed medieval centre of York is so crooked, atmospheric and well preserved that it’s little wonder it’s inspired hordes of filmmakers. Its most delightfully ancient street, the Shambles, is said to have sparked JK Rowling’s descriptions of Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books, and informed later cinematic renditions of that street. There’s now a small mini-empire of Harry Potter-inspired shops around it, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for York on screen.
Scenes in the Yorkshire Vet were shot at Grays Court, said to be the oldest inhabited house in York, now a wonderful luxury hotel, restaurant and bar with a walled garden and wood-panelled Jacobean lounges. Some of York’s grand Georgian townhouses have also made ideal on-screen mansions for period dramas: Fairfax House appears in BBC’s Gentleman Jack and York Mansion House features in ITV’s Victoria. Any stroll inside the city’s medieval fortified walls is likely to throw up more familiar landmarks, as filming has taken place down cobbled backstreets here for decades.
The city’s foremost attraction is its magnificent gothic minster, but visitors will also love York’s shops, the interactive Jorvik viking museum, the famous Betty’s tearooms and its many creaking old pubs, full of dusty ghost tales.