Victorian Connections

Leeds may be a modern city, but its Victorian past is still easy to find!

Harewood House was recently used as a filming location for ITV’s show-stopping drama ‘Victoria’; a lavish costume drama following the story of Queen Victoria, one of Britain’s best-known and longest-reigning monarchs.

It was filmed in some of the most regal and iconic filming locations across Britain including Harewood House and Castle Howard – follow in Victoria’s footsteps and revel like a royal.

A young Princess Victoria visited Harewood House in 1835 shortly before her coronation, and the grand country house is still lived in by her direct descendent. Marvel at the breath-taking Lancelot “Capability” Brown landscape and acres of formal gardens, enjoy tea on the idyllic Terrace, or take in the splendour of the State Rooms filled with original Chippendale furniture.

When you’re in Leeds, stay outside and enjoy the majestic and awe-inspiring architecture. Leeds is an impressive city and there’s plenty to see just by walking around…

Victoria Quarter - Hannah Webster for Visit Leeds Leeds Kirkgate Market -credit Carl Milner Photography for Visit Leeds Leeds Corn Exchange - credit Carl Milner Photography for Visit Leeds

Victorian Shopping Quarter

The Victorian Shopping Quarter is an area of Leeds city centre where you will find Victoria Quarter, Victoria Gate, Kirkgate Market and The Corn Exchange.

Victoria Gate, Leeds’ newest retail addition, is a 21st century, elegant arcade that adds to the rich history of retail in Leeds. The flagship John Lewis store has a striking facade drawing on Leeds’ textile heritage, prevalent in the Victorian era. The modern design of Victoria Gate takes its ispiration from the Victorian shopping arcades for which Leeds is renowned.

The Victoria Quarter Arcades have a rich history dating back over 100 years. In 1900, famous theatre architect, Frank Matcham designed these elaborate Victorian Arcades. He used rich marbles, mosaics, wrought iron and carved mahogany to create two streets, an arcade and the Empire Theatre (now the site of Harvey Nichols).

A restoration project in the 1980s ensured the preservation and regeneration of this historic area. This included Brian Clarke’s breath-taking stained glass roof, which runs the full length of Queen Victoria Street and is the largest stained glass window in Britain! You can still see the restored original features of the Victorian era in the stunning building.

The Victoria Quarter is now a unique lifestyle and leisure destination, home to more than 70 of the world’s leading designer brands such as Harvey Nichols, Louis Vuitton, Liz Earle, Paul Smith, Mulberry and Vivienne Westwood.

Kirkgate Market is without doubt one of the most recognisable and best loved landmarks in the city. The majestic Grade I listed building dates back to 1857 boasts the first covered retail street in Leeds and is home to the birthplace of one of Britain’s biggest global brands Marks & Spencer which still has a presence. As soon as you enter this impressive Victorian masterpiece you feel alive! There isn’t anywhere like this in the UK.

Leeds Corn Exchange, with its iconic domed roof, is one of Leeds’ most impressive Victorian buildings. This Grade I building houses a wide range of independent retailers and tasty eateries, and regularly hosts vintage markets and record fairs.

Catch a show in historic settings

The City Varieties Music Hall, now famous around the world, opened in 1865 as ‘Thornton’s New Music Hall and Fashionable Lounge’ delighting the crowds with comedians, contortionists, trapeze artists and reptile conquerors. Today you’re more likely to find comedians, plays, musicians and firm favourite, ‘The Good Old Days’; celebrating the golden era of Variety and Music Halls.

Amidst great excitement, Leeds Grand Theatre opened its doors in 1878. The theatre is widely regarded as a major milestone in Victorian theatre building and continues to welcome and entertain audiences in the lavish auditorium. Catch a west end show or a performance from Leeds’ own ballet and opera companies: Opera North and Northern Ballet.

The famous Leeds Town Hall was designed in 1852 as a statement of wealth and civic pride. Completed in 1858, the Town Hall was opened by Queen Victoria herself. Leeds Town Hall now hosts breath taking classical music concerts from some of the country’s leading orchestras and performances from top comedians.  This jaw-dropping venue also hosts the Leeds International Concert Season. You can explore the hidden secret side to the Town Hall on one of their tours!