A townhouse fit for Mr. Darcy and excerpt from my WIP

A townhouse fit for Mr. Darcy and excerpt from my WIP

I’ve spent many happy hours looking for Mr. Darcy’s London home. Admittedly it’s much more fun to do it for real and on foot. While far more convenient, Google Street makes me a little dizzy.

As I kept searching, many gorgeous-looking residences caught my eye, but I was always drawn to the same place: Berkeley Square. It looks very fashionable on contemporary maps, and it has a lot going for it. The location, the layout, the two neighbouring great houses – and of course the plane trees. Plane trees in Berkeley Square

There are several towering plane trees in the square, and they’ve been around since 1789. What an amazing feeling, to know that the same trees used to shade the ladies and gentlemen who came to eat ices at Gunter’s!


My first trip to Berkeley Square was in my imagination, with the 1802 Fairburn map and the London Encyclopaedia.

Fairburn map Berkeley Sq

The first real trip, on foot, was somewhat of a disappointment. I knew, for instance, that Devonshire House, which used to close the southeast end of the square, had been long demolished. What I didn’t know was that in its place now stands a spectacularly featureless building.

It came as just as much of a surprise to learn that the house where Her Majesty was born was just around the corner, and it had not survived either.

Queen Elizabeth plaque

No WWII raids, just the fickle finger of time. If that house went, what hope was there for the rest?

So I suppose it’s a great stroke of luck that at least one side of the square is still made up of original buildings.


42_43 Berkeley Sq

Some are still unspeakably pretty. What do you think of No. 42 and 43? It’s a long time since they were family homes, but it’s not too hard to imagine the Darcys living there.
44_45 Berkeley Sq



No. 44 (the nearest, in red brick) is now a fashionable club, of more modern fame than Brooks’s and Boodle’s, but it used to be the home of Lord and Lady Clermont and features a most impressive staircase.  Horace Walpole, who was a regular visitor, thought that the staircase was ‘as beautiful as a piece of scenery’ – and he was right.


44 Berkeley Sq staircase small

No. 45 (the slightly taller white one beyond) has some darkness in its past. It was the home of Clive of India, until he died in 1774 of an overdose of laudanum.

No 46 might be a preserved gem.

46 Berkeley Sq

Unlike some of its neighbours, it hasn’t been burdened with unsightly vertical extensions. In fact, I think it looks just as it did at the time of this gorgeous 1813 engraving.

Berkeley Sq 1813 small


No. 47 is very pretty, but a later addition (it was built in 1891).

47 Berkeley Sq

The next two are much altered, but No 50 has an interesting story.

50 Berkeley SqNot just because in the late 19th century it acquired the reputation of one of the most haunted houses in London, but also because it was the home of George Canning, the Foreign Secretary who fought a duel with Lord Castlereagh, the Secretary of State for War, because they disagreed on military strategy and the deployment of troops on the Continent, during a stage of the Napoleonic wars. In this day and age (and especially now, at the end of an electoral campaign) this paints a strange and adorably quaint picture. Could we imagine modern-day politicians meeting on Wimbledon Common to exchange pistol-shots over disagreements on current affairs?

If we go further down, we find ourselves in Fitzmaurice Place. This little street did not exist in Georgian times. If you time-travel off that spot, you’ll find yourself trespassing in the gardens of Lansdowne House. This grand residence had a strange fate. Part of it is still in place, as Lansdowne Club, but the dining room is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the drawing room is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (For more information on Lansdowne Club, click the link HERE or above.)

Lansdowne House Dining-room small

I wish Gunter’s was in a museum too, rather than vanished without trace and replaced with a Prêt. I haven’t been able to find an engraving showing Gunter’s. All I could find is more or less the same paragraph repeated almost word for word in many places, that it was somewhat of a habit with the bon ton to have their ices in the square, in their own carriages, rather than in the shop, and that the flavours might have surprised the modern palate, as they included lavender and bergamot along with more familiar ones such as vanilla, elderflower, lemon, orange, pistachio and chocolate.

So I am standing outside Prêt still dreaming of Gunter’s and lavender-flavoured sweetmeats – and I still don’t know which one is Mr. Darcy’s house. Of course, it doesn’t really matter. I like the trees. I like the name – Berkeley Square. It has resonance, just as ‘Fitzwilliam Darcy’ does. Thanks to Sharon Lathan’s post on Georgian townhouses, it’s easier to imagine what we might find in Mr. Darcy’s home, behind the tasteful and unpretentious façade.

In the Pride & Prejudice variation I’m writing at the moment, we hardly ever go to Pemberley until the very end. But the townhouse features very often, so take your pick of one of those lovely houses or imagine your own, and let’s get together later to spend some time in Mr. Darcy’s London home.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from my upcoming book, which will hopefully be released this autumn.

* * * *

The Unthinkable Triangle

“Come now, Darcy! Have you never been tempted to evade our dearest aunt’s presence?” Fitzwilliam laughed and his inordinately gleeful manner gave Darcy pause in offering the brandy he had poured. “Her talents are well and truly wasted,” Fitzwilliam resumed. “If only she could be in command of the Third Dragoons! I could well imagine my hardened companions quaking in their boots before her!” he added with an immoderate guffaw.

Having heard as much, Darcy carried his own glass to his lips but left the other on the marble-topped sideboard. He set his own drink down and cast a smiling glance at his relation.

“Have you been drinking, Fitzwilliam?”

“Aye. The nectar of the gods. Aphrodite’s own witch brew,” his companion retorted with another chuckle.

“Honestly, Cousin! I know Lady Catherine is a trial on one’s patience, but drowning yourself at the local watering hole is not an answer. And so immoderately too! I have never seen you quite so much in your cups!”

A diverted smile was his answer and then Fitzwilliam spoke up.

“I am not in my cups, Cousin.”

“Is that so? You could have fooled me! Then what ails you?”

“Nothing ails me. Quite the opposite, in fact, ” the other replied promptly, clearly unable to contain himself. “Darcy, I am engaged to be married! I proposed today and Miss Bennet had the kindness to say yes! Now, I can see that you are stunned, and before you say anything, aye, I know that in some respects this is sheer madness, since we both have precious little to live on. She is far from wealthy and so am I, but somehow things will come together. Thank goodness for Old Boney. At least my soldier’s pay would see us through for as long as the war lasts, and then I shall find a way to keep us afloat. Damme, I would even go into trade if I have to, and if this does not send my esteemed father into a fit of apoplexy then I do not know what would. You say nothing… What, no congratulations? I am that sorry, Darcy! I was hoping to have you on my side at least. I know how wild it seems and bordering on the irresponsible. Believe you me, I did try very hard indeed to be sensible and tell myself it is not an advantageous match. Pater would rant and rave and so would the others, but I say hang them all! I could not leave her, Darcy, and go my own way! I cannot lose her. I love her. And I was hoping that even you might come to see why. I know she does not meet with your approval in more than one regard but, for my sake, I was hoping you can overlook it and wish us joy,” Fitzwilliam concluded at last, his open countenance reflecting genuine emotion, and his hand outstretched.

From the moment that the thunder had struck, Darcy had heard less than one word in twenty. All the while, three other words screamed in his head, over and over.

‘This cannot be! This cannot be! This cannot be!’

What mockery was this – what nightmare?

If it was a nightmare, then good Lord, pray let him awaken!

And yet the heavens remained silent, and the nightmare raged on.

His cousin was not silent, but his words held no meaning, as though they were spoken in a foreign tongue. At long last, he stopped talking and offered him his hand. Through nothing but numb force of habit, Darcy took it and clasped it, then abruptly excused himself, his steps carrying him faster and faster through the silent house.

‘Dead man walking – how dreadfully fitting.’ The thought flitted through his shock-struck mind, soon to be followed by disjointed, lightning-like flashes, as he walked out of the house into the pitch-dark garden. Elizabeth married to Fitzwilliam – his closest relation, in spirit if not blood. And he would see them together constantly. In town. At Ashford. And at Pemberley. Married to his cousin. He would be expected to attend the wedding. See her at the altar pledging herself to his closest friend. See them walk away to be man and wife together!

He gasped for breath, as though punched in the stomach – or as though he was about to be violently sick.

* * * *

So, what do you reckon? Are you horrifed yet?

For those of you who know my books, I needn’t say more. You know the drill (don’t you, Jeanna? 😉 ). For those of you who don’t, I’ll just say come along and don’t be afraid, because I firmly believe in a couple of things:

1. In this lovely JAFF world of ours, Elizabeth and Darcy should never end up living their lives apart.

2.What’s the point of reading a book if it leaves you feeling miserable?

So I promise an all-round ‘Happy ever after’, hand on heart. Are you willing to take the ride with me?

52 Responses to A townhouse fit for Mr. Darcy and excerpt from my WIP

  1. Joana, I have bought and read The Unthinkable Triangle. Loved it! All of your books I’ve read have been exceptionally well done! Please keep writing and let us know when you have new ones out!

  2. I won’t say what variation…but one marriage between the Colonel and Elizabeth is MORE than enough. Darcy and Elizabeth have to be together. It’s one thing if they were not acquainted, and maybe they each married someone else; however, they need to be together while they are young enough to have at least one child. I can see the Colonel marrying either Anne deBourgh or Georgiana. either marriage solving his income problems. Of course, I would want him to love his bride, whether before or after the ceremony. However, I would NOT want to see the Colonel as a villain either, and I did read one variation that did make him out to be one.

  3. Oh my, what angst! What a disaster for Darcy! His world is truly crumbling before him with that announcement. Looking forward to seeing how the HEA happens for all of them. The town homes during Regency time is so beautiful. It’s amazing to see so much history in those amazing structures!

    • I’m so glad you liked the post and the houses!

      “His world is truly crumbling before him with that announcement.” Yes, it does a bit, doesn’t it? 😉

      Hope you’ll like what I’m planning to do with them. Have a great day and thanks for your comment!

  4. It’s going to be interesting finding out how Darcy and Elizabeth reach their HEA, Joana. I know you’ll make it right and do it very well. I’ve loved all of your other books. I won’t post any spoilers here for Victoria’s recent book but I DO know what happens there. Indeed, I was privileged to be one of her beta readers for it, so I knew a while ago and was obviously sworn to secrecy!

    It’s been a long while since I was last in London and can’t say that I’ve ever been to the areas you’ve described but I remember seeing a square feature in the Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts film Notting Hill. It had a large garden/park area in the middle of it and the only people allowed in were the local residents. Sounds like the sort of area that our hero would live in. Fascinating article. Must remember to check it all out next time I go on Google Street view.

    • Thanks ever so much for your kind words, Anji, and for your trust too! I won’t post any spoilers about Victoria’s book either 😉 but I finished it last night and absolutely loved it!

      Yes, I do remember that scene in Notting Hill. So sweet and funny and so very moving! You’re right, this ‘private garden’ idea sounds absolutely perfect for Darcy and their neighbours. I think the one in Berkeley Square has always been open to the public, but I like the thought of Darcy and Georgiana strolling through a garden like the one in Notting Hill.

      So glad you liked the post! Have a lovely weekend and don’t crash into walls on Google Street like I do 😉

  5. Thanks for taking us on a virtual tour of Georgian townhouses, Joana. I haven’t been to London myself so your post here makes me wish my dream could happen soon.

    I love the excerpt from your new P&P variation but I hope the colonel fall in love with some other lady thus clearing the path for Elizabeth and Darcy to be together. Please don’t kill him off or hurt his relationship between him and Darcy.

    • You’re so very welcome 🙂 I hope you get to visit London soon, and see everything you wanted to see!

      Thanks so much for your comment about the excerpt! Spoiler or no spoiler, please don’t worry, I can’t kill him off. After Darcy and Elizabeth, he’s my favourite character in P&P! I always love writing the relationship between cousins, I think such scenes have the best chance to show what Darcy is really like when he’s not putting some stern facade or other. Writing them tease each other is great fun. So it was much easier to write their relationship in the two of my books where they’re not at loggerheads. But I hope you’ll like what I’ve done in this one too 🙂

  6. Was it in one of Abigail’s books that Jane and the Colonel ended up……???? Other authors have hinted at the Colonel’s interest in Elizabeth but finances were always a detriment to the consideration of that on the part of the Colonel. I had to look up plane tree…sycamore in our area, i read. Is the Prêt a store? Not familiar with that name.

    Look looking at the photos. Thanks for sharing.

    • They do make sense together, Sheila, don’t they? I’m sorry for Mr Bingley, he’s adorable but he doesn’t really look like the sort of husband someone could fully rely on. As for the Colonel’s interest in Elizabeth, there were hints in the original P&P too, but I think it’s the adaptations we need to blame most of all for taking us down that path 😉 I know I do. It’s the Rosings scenes in P&P 1995, with the Colonel sitting so relaxed next to Elizabeth at the piano, or chatting to her at the parsonage that did it for me.

      Pret (Pret a Manger) is a posh chain of sandwich shops. More sophisticated than that, they sell only freshly made stuff and fancy sweets and coffee, but they’re not Gunters 😀

  7. Lovely Post, Joana! I’ve often thought about what those houses look like since I end up setting a lot of scenes in London. I wish I could take a quick trip to London to take a look, but it would be rather expensive….

    I love the excerpt as well. Very intrigued to see the book 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Victoria! Until you get to take a look for real, Google Street does work wonders. I used it a lot, even for this post, because I couldn’t quite remember the exact layout. It’s just dizzying to try to ‘walk’ along the street. I always end up barging into the walls 🙂

      Huge congrats on your new release! Guess what I’ll be reading tonight? 😉

  8. What a post Joanna! You delighted me with all the pictures (especially that exquisite staircase!) and the history. Then you made my heart stop with your except. All the time I read I was thinking ‘it has to be Jane!’ but alas it was not. It is only because I trust you so much that I shall dare to read it! I can write angst (because I know what is coming), but I can’t read it! heh heh

    • Thanks so much for the kind words, Brenda, and for the vote of confidence! That’s so true, it’s a lot easier to write angst, knowing how and when it’s going to be fixed, than sitting there flicking the Kindle button and wondering how much longer till the trouble goes away! 🙂

  9. I am looking forward to reading this new story that is still being created! Hoping for the best for Colonel Fitzwilliam, Darcy, and Elizabeth!!! Something special to look forward to in the autumn!!!

  10. What a delightful morning read this was! Loved all the photos, and your excerpt was excruciatingly heart-wrenching — in the best kind of way. I have been taking notes about all the things I want to do once I make it to England, and I don’t think a two-week tour is going to be enough. And now you tease me with museum exhibits in America that are too far from home for a casual day trip. 🙂

    • Thanks for your lovely comment. So glad to hear you’re planning to visit! Hope you can stay for longer than two weeks! I can easily spend whole days in one place, if it’s P&P related 🙂

  11. Thank you for the interesting post. I spent Monday in Grosvenor Square, imagining which townhouse would best suit my protagonist’s well-heeled family. Such lovely architecture, and I love the ‘squares’ – such pretty parks, especially in Spring!

    • So did you find the best townhouse for the well-heeled family? You must have had a wonderful time, any which way. Such a lovely part of town and the parks and spring blossoms are so pretty! Thanks so much for visiting and commenting!

  12. I really enjoyed your post and thanks for the excerpt from your book. I was devastated until I read your end comments as it just has to be Darcy and Elizabeth. I look forward to seeing how they get together from that.

  13. As someone who goes out of her way to go to a particular cafe on the one day they make lavender cake, I can appreciate the flavor of the ices!! I love to look at the old buildings, lovely lovely places the Jane would have seen with her own eyes. And the “real Mr. Darcy” too LOL I envy you your walk about. My finest dream is to be able to go to England and visit the place my ancestors came from and where my heart seems to be a lot of the time. I will say it’s a terrible shame what time does to history! Great post!!

    As for the excerpt, oh poor Darcy. We will have to see what you have in for our darling couple but the road is never easy. I would prefer he be referring to Miss JANE Bennet and not Miss ELIZABETH Bennet, I could handle that much better… 😉 Thanks for the teaser.

    • I never tried lavender cake! How lovely, I thought this was one of the flavours we have lost or replaced with others. I do hope you get to come over and follow your heart! I do agree about the way things change, and in the case of buildings not often for the better. It was such a surprise to come across that 1813 watercolour and squint and analyse till I’m pretty sure that the two houses in the foreground are very likely to be Nos 45 and 46, the first one so dwarfed by modern surroundings, compared to the way it looked when there was no such thing in Berkeley Square as a high-rise.

      I know the feeling about the two sisters and I often think that Jane might have done much better with someone like the Colonel, who has a great deal of backbone, unlike a certain young and easily led gent from the north of England. But where would have been the angst in that? 😉 Thanks so much for stopping by, much appreciated!

  14. Joana, now that was a bit of torture. I don’t suppose Miss Bennet could have meant Jane? No, I suppose not, he said “Elizabeth” in his thoughts. Well, you better come back with a spoiler or the readers on this side of the screen will commit cyber something or other on your computer. Now back to the house. I’ve seen photo’s of the different squares from Ackerman’s Repository. What surprises me is that they look more or less connected, no space in-between. Did they have gardens in the back or was it just the park ways here and there across the street? Even though the homes are gorgeous, I can’t imagine living so close to your neighbors after living in the country. Any thoughts? Jen Red

    • Thanks so much for the comment, Jennifer! No, sadly the good colonel didn’t mean Jane 😉 but (spoiler or no spoiler) we both know there’s no fun in any JAFF where Darcy or Elizabeth end up married with anyone else but each other!

      As to the houses, they really are built right against each other. I’ve never been fortunate enough to take a peak behind the front door but (in Mayfair especially) fashionable streets and squares have narrower streets around the back, where the equivalent of country estate ‘outbuildings’ would have been, with servants’ quarters and other offices. One of the houses I posted about (possibly No 46, but I’m not 100% sure) featured in a real estate advert, with the mention that the property also included the coach-house on the mews at the back, and a large garden in between. So there’s so much more behind the narrow facade us commoners see 😉

  15. Because you promise an F & E HEA, I am willing to follow. Your thoughts about the town houses are interesting, Searching the streets and walking where he sould have walked. It is a ;liitle “My Fair Lady”..on the street where you live.

    • Oh, I can see great risk of confusion between the two Fitzwilliams here, Kathy! I need to watch out for that and make it crystal clear which one I mean! But I guess all’s well if Elizabeth doesn’t get confused about which one she marries 🙂

      Thanks for your comment, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post!

  16. Oh no Joana! Don’t do it! Don’t make him suffer too long! Poor Darcy…. Oh you are so good at portraying the pain in his heart it breaks my heart. But you do it in a way that does not make me pity him but endears me to him so that I start cheering and biting my nails until it is resolved. Fabulous post. I can’t wait!!!!!!! I have to wait for autumn? You are a cruel person. Whet our apatite just enough to keep us bugging you to finish

    • Thanks so much for the lovely words, Jeanna, you’re so kind! This is the story I was talking about in an older post, when I said I wasn’t sure if I should go on and write it because it tortures poor Darcy well above the legal limit 🙂

      So very sorry about the long wait, I’ll try to get on with it as soon as I can. But if the premise tickles your fancy, Victoria Kincaid is about to release a new book very soon, that starts with the same heap of trouble for our favourite hero. I can’t wait to see where she takes all three of them and how!

      Hugs and thanks for commenting!

      • I bought and read and reviewed Victoria Kincaid’s Pride and Proposals today. Could not put it down – sobbing so much of the time. But I will definitely have to read your version, also.

  17. Joana, Thank you for the real estate tour. This was great fun. Whereas I put my Darcy in a secure high-rise, you are giving him a lovely townhouse right out of My Fair Lady. I do have Bingley and Jane settled into a Mayfair townhouse after their marriage. I just wonder how the ladies negotiated the staircases with those long dresses. I have all I can do to manage a few steps while wearing jeans. 🙂

    • They must have been a nightmare, those stairs! Especially when they had to negotiate them in those huge Victorian dresses!
      I can imagine your Darcy in a very flashy and modern penthouse, very minimalist, very chic. Mine’s in a different time-frame, but I think he’d still go for the Regency version of the minimalist, unlike Lady Catherine 😉 Thanks for your kind words. All the best.

  18. Gasp! How shocking! Oh, help!!! I feel like Darcy. Gulp!

    As for the house…..that staircase would be in his London home. The perfect staircase!

    You have to fix this without killing off the Colonel, Joana. When can we read the book?

      • Fortunately, I live close enough to NYC and Philadelphia to be able to see both and even copied the photo so as to remind me. A trip! Have to round up a girlfriend or two. Maybe we could meet up? Hint!

    • I thought so too, that staircase’s amazing!!!!!!!

      I think you might be among the first to know when I’m nearly there with the book 😉 but at the moment I’m hoping for mid-autumn, sometime after the Jane Austen Festival in Bath.

      And OF COURSE I wouldn’t kill Colonel Fitzwilliam off!!! The horror of it! No, it doesn’t bear thinking, we love him almost as much as Darcy!!!

      Oh, do go to the museum and post some pretty pictures, if it’s allowed! It looks like a wonderful room!

  19. Oh dear! This is one of those situations I always dread in JAFF because I love Colonel F & I don’t want him to be killed off or brokenhearted or something, but he’s not Darcy! Lol I know it’ll all work out somehow, though.

    I love the idea of exploring townhouses. I don’t really know much about what they look like on the inside. It seems a lot of elegance in a small space – or maybe they’re not as small as I imagine. I think it’s interesting that authors place Darcy in varying locations – Berkeley, Grosvenor, Brook St, etc – and often wonder why they choose as they do. It is disappointing that Gunter’s is no longer there.

    Thanks, Joana!

    • Thanks for the lovely comment, Monica! I know the feeling, I’ve been reluctant to write this for ages, because of all the angst for all concerned and because we care about them all. If it’s a new, non-Austen character that’s OK, he can be jilted, who cares if he’s miserable? But Colonel Fitzwilliam’s unhappiness hurts almost as much as Darcy’s!

      As for the location of the townhouse, yes, he’s moving all over the place 😉

      I think I veer to Berkeley Square firstly because of the plane trees. It’s nice to know that we can see them now and (if he wasn’t a fictional character) Mr Darcy might have seen them too, outside his window. And then there’s the thought of him living next door to the Duke of Devonshire and the Marquess of Lansdowne – that sounds just as it should be 😉 . I like Grosvenor Square too, but it’s so modernised that it just doesn’t look as right. I don’t think there are many original buildings left there. As for houses that are not in a square, the streets look narrow, overcrowded and a bit disappointing. Mr Darcy deserves the best!

      Thanks for popping by and please come back soon!

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