In Lancashire, the antique bookcases and Victorian dining chairs you see in antique shops weren’t always made to order; often, they originated from a 19th Century emporium like The Paradise – a fictional department store which features in a new eight part period drama from BBC1.
The Paradise, which began on Tuesday 25th September, is an adaptation of Emile Zola’s classic novel, Au Bonheur des Dames, set in northern England. With big name stars that include Sarah Lancashire, Elaine Cassidy and Matthew McNulty, it is essentially a love story set against the background of England’s first ever department store. While The Paradise is fictional, Kendal’s of Manchester has a history dating back to 1796, being described in an 1880s copy of the Ladies Home Journal as:
“[a] perfect example of a modern furnishings and textile emporium.”
To create the grandeur and opulence of The Paradise, the entire series has been shot on location at the Lambton estate in County Durham, with Lambton Castle doubling as the store and the area outside transformed into a busy Victorian high street. Inside, the production team has used a mixture of reproduction and genuine antique props to create the desired effect.
At the time The Paradise is set, a Victorian balloon back dining chair would not have looked antique, and the production crew had to be careful to fill the shelves with glittering new stock. This was solved by ordering mass-produced ‘Victoriana’ from America, which was displayed alongside genuine antiques. As when buying Victorian dining chairs from a Lancashire antique dealer, the subtle variations in shape and colour made each vintage item unique – very different to the modern counterparts.
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