York Minster as you’ve never seen it before – new TV drama brings it to life

Filming Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell in York Minster. Photograph: BBC/ JSMN Ltd/ Matt Squire
17 May 2015 @ 8.20 pm
| News

York Minster stars in a telly blockbuster starting on Sunday night (May 17) – but as you’ve never seen it before.

Key scenes for the hotly anticipated BBC One fantasy drama Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell were filmed in the cathedral.

Film crews spent a week filming at York Minster in February last year to recreate scenes from the bestselling book by Susanna Clarke for the seven part drama.

Set at the beginning of the 19th century, the story follows the reclusive Mr Norrell who proves practical magic still exists in England by making statues inside York Minster speak and move.

The incident sparks a new enthusiasm for practical magic which takes in war, peace, fairies and even resurrection.

The magic causes Minster mayhem
The magic causes Minster mayhem
‘Mr Norrell is about to do magic in York Minster again’
‘Mr Norrell is about to do magic in York Minster again’

Author Susanna Clarke visited the Minster during the filming and described the surreal experience of recreating a “19th century England that never was” in the middle of 21st century York on an ordinary weekday evening.

She wrote…

We are gathered in York outside the Minster. People are walking home from work, driving their cars through the city centre, eating in restaurants. Everything is quite as normal.

Except that in just the one spot — before the great West Front — a snowstorm is blowing; and battling their way through it is a covey of black-coated magicians in three-cornered hats with lanterns in their hands.

Mr Norrell is about to do magic in York Minster again.

As well as filming at the cathedral, the team transformed St William’s College into the Old Starre Inn – where the York Society of Magicians meet – and a bookshop stocking rare magical texts. College Street and Chapterhouse Street also feature in the drama.