Confessions of a Lookie-Loo

Confessions of a Lookie-Loo

I have a confession to make: I’m a Lookie-Loo.

Lookie-Loos are people who masquerade as potential homebuyers but have no real intention of ever buying; they’re just curious to see the inside of a house that’s listed for sale.

The TV series “Portlandia” spoofed the concept in a 2015 episode:

But my Lookie-Loo tendencies don’t run toward today’s modern homes. Instead, I’m curious to see the interiors of homes and buildings from the Regency era. And I have a good reason for it: seeing those interiors helps me visualize scenes when I write them.

I’m especially interested in seeing interiors that weren’t filmed for Jane Austen adaptations for the big screen or TV. Here’s an example:

In Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth Bennet accompanies her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner on a tour of Derbyshire, where they spend time at a coaching inn in Lambton. In both the 1985 and 1995 BBC adaptations Mr. Gardiner secures a private parlor for their use at the inn.

Elizabeth and the Gardiners greet Mr. Darcy and his sister in their parlour at the inn at Lambton.

But in the 2005 movie adaptation, Elizabeth and the Gardiners don’t indulge in that kind of luxury. Instead, they’re thrown together with other travelers in the inn’s public room.

Elizabeth and the Gardiners have a private conversation in a very public room.

What we don’t get a glimpse of in either adaptation is Elizabeth’s bed chamber at the inn, and that’s when my Lookie-Loo tendencies come into play. I’m curious to see the inside of Elizabeth’s room; I want to know if it’s comfortable and clean, and whether it has touches of old-world charm. Thanks to a number of online resources, I can hunt down visual cues of what her room might have looked like.

Perhaps it looked a little like this one. I can imagine Lizzy sleeping here, in a chamber on the top floor of the inn, tucked in among the rough-hewn rafters (minus the electric lights on the bedside tables!):

The Georgian chest of drawers on the left looks like the real thing; but the sleigh bed is a modern touch.

Or her room could have looked like this one, which I particularly like because of the remnant of old tapestry hanging above the bed:

Here’s another option, with the bed hung with draperies to fend off the cool night air. This is a small room at The Crown, a coaching inn in Faringdon, Oxfordshire that is still in operation today:

You can book a room at The Crown in Faringdon, Oxfordshire on a number of different travel sites. I found it at TripAdvisor.com.

If the summer night turned chilly, Lizzy might have had a fire in her chamber, which this room at The Spread Eagle in West Sussex will accommodate nicely:

The historic Spread Eagle Inn, at Midhurst in West Sussex has been welcoming guests since 1430.

I’ve had to train my brain to ignore hints of today’s modern conveniences, such as electric lights and heat radiators, when I look at images like these, but that’s easy enough to do. We Lookie-Loos are pretty adept at seeing what we want to see in a pretty room.

Are you a Lookie-Loo? Do you enjoy touring houses and tracking down images of places you’ve only imagined?

What place or room mentioned in Jane Austen’s novels would you like to see that hasn’t been represented in a filmed adaptation?

16 Responses to Confessions of a Lookie-Loo

  1. I am a big “Lookie – Look” with anything that has to do with JAFF and I’m thrilled when authors and other JAFF folks post their pictures of those places where our stories take place and where Jane Austen lived.

  2. Nancy thank you for this. It is nice to see those old establishments and like you, picture out the amenities/room they used in the past. I do love to look at houses and also different inns/hotel (esp those offering a different look).

    I really would love to see those private parlors and want to know how private it can be…

    Thank you for this post.

  3. You just turned me into a Lookie-loo with this post, Nancy. Loved the looks at some of the inns today. But one from 1430? Goodness, I didn’t expect that. And it looked comfortable to boot. Would love to see the Gardiner’s house on Gracechurch Street since Elizabeth enjoyed time spent with her aunt and uncle.

    • Welcome to the club, Gianna! There are still quite a few old posting/coaching inns in England that date back hundreds of years, and it’s fun to explore their rooms online. The 1995 BBC production of P&P briefly depicted the Gardiner’s drawing-room (shown when Caroline Bingley begrudgingly called upon Jane Bennet), but I would love know more about their house, too. I wonder if they lived above Mr. Gardiner’s buisness?

  4. I recently moved and looking at houses was the only part of the process I really enjoyed. I’ve toured some homes that are historic sites and it is so interesting to see how things have changed.

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