The central theme of the TV series Gunpowder are the activities of the group of English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, and their subsequent gruesome punishments. The plot was an attempt to assassinate King James I of England and VI of Scotland during the State Opening of Parliament at the House of Lords, and the most famous of the plotters was Guy Fawkes, who was the inspiration for the enduring custom of "bonfire night" and "penny for the Guy". Most of the filming of the series took place in a variety of stunning Yorkshire locations.
One of the most atmospheric locations used was the Cellarium in Fountains Abbey, owned by the National Trust, which plays a key role as the vaults under the Houses of Parliament, where the plotters hoard their gunpowder and plan their dastardly deeds. The abbey, founded in 1132, is a well-preserved but ruined Cistercian monastery located about 3 miles south-west of Ripon. In the first episode a Catholic mass is celebrated at Fountains House. Another National Trust property, East Riddlesden Hall between Riddlesden and Keighley, was used in the scene in which a Member of Parliament receives a letter warning him of the plot. The Dining Room and
Great Chamber were stripped of their contents and redone specially for the filming. The property overlooks the River Aire and was built in 1642.
Fountains Abbey Cellarium. Photo by Kisha Tracy, via Wikimedia Commons
Students at Bradford College managed to get some hands-on experience when some of the scenes were filmed there, some of them working as make-up artists. The college itself is ultra-modern, but its Garden Studio was chosen as the site for the construction of a 17th century manor house. Across at Dalton Mills, a former Victorian textile mill in Keighley, there was another large set depicting a building from the period. Meanwhile, out and about, two iconic Yorkshire bridges were used in the filming: Lendal Bridge in the centre of York and the turreted aqueduct bridge over the River Wharfe at the Bolton Abbey estate. The abbey itself also featured. The rough moorland seen in some of the scenes is the secton of moor between Ilkley and Keighley.
Oakwell Hall is a magnificent Elizabethan manor house set in a country park in Birstall, West Yorkshire. The hall was built in 1583 by John Batt, and as such provided a perfect backdrop for scenes from Gunpowder. The hall is several miles south-west of Leeds. A bit closer to the centre of Leeds, to the north-west of the city, is Kirkstall Abbey, dating from the 12th century and, like Fountains Abbey, one of the casualties of Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. That the abbey was chosen as one of Gunpowder’s locations is rather appropriate, given that the abbey buildings were bought by a gunpowder dealer from Leeds in the late 1800s. Another Yorkshire landmark, is Beverley Minster, an impressive church known for its Gothic architecture. The Minster was begun in the 12th century on the site of a former monastery and updated further in the 15th and 19th centuries. The Minster was used for scenes depicting the Palace of Westminster.
Beverley Minster. Photo by Paul Lakin, via Wikimedia Commons
One location used in the series which is not in Yorkshire is Haddon Hall near Bakewell in Derbyshire. The hall is used to depict Ashby St. Legers in Northamptonshire, which through marriage came into the hands of the Catesby family from Warwickshire, one of whom was Robert Catesby (played by Kit Harington), the leading figure in the Gunpowder Plot.
Haddon Hall. Photo by Trevor Rickard, via Wikimedia Commons