I thought I’d finish the country house tour, for the time being at least, where my JAFF heart is: in Derbyshire – to me, the most beautiful place in the world.
There is majesty and beauty in the High Peak, with its unspoilt views over rust-coloured hills that turn purple when heather is in bloom, and Snake’s Pass is both awe-inspiring and forbidding.
There is awe-inspiring beauty up towards Castleton and Peveril Castle, in an area famous for its minerals, such as the well-known blue-john, extracted and fashioned into exquisite ornaments – or displayed in all its rough glory, as is the case in the gallery at Chatsworth.
Sadly I have no photos of petrified spars like the ones Elizabeth thought of collecting when she was told that her aunt and uncle could not go as far as the Lakes and they would have to contend themselves with Derbyshire.
“But surely I may enter his county with impunity and rob it of a few petrified spars without his perceiving me.” (Pride & Prejudice)
I love this little paragraph, by the way. To me it shows that, if she was thinking of collecting mementoes from his part of the world like a teenage with a crush, Elizabeth was starting to fall in love with Mr Darcy long before she knew it, and long before she saw his beautiful grounds at Pemberley and thus came to understand what sort of a man he was, a good landlord, brother, master.
But to return to Derbyshire, I don’t know about you, but the White Peak appeals to me the most, with its gently rolling hills and mellow green slopes crisscrossed by stone walls. It looks welcoming and prosperous, rather than dark and forbidding. It looks, moreover, just like the land around Pemberley might look, with sheep grazing at leisure while the lord and master is riding somewhere on his estate to see what needs doing, like a good landlord should.
A very dear friend said that if we visit Pemberley perhaps Mr Darcy would ask us in for tea 🙂
I told her that judging by my muddy boots and apparel, I’d be lucky if I get invited for tea with Mrs Reynolds. And my boots were truly in a state after traipsing over Mr Darcy’s grounds.
Sadly, I couldn’t have tea with either, but I still felt very, very lucky because, for the first time in all my visits to Lyme Park, I discovered that now indoor digital photography is allowed. So, until you get to visit for yourselves, do feast your eyes on all this beauty.
When Pride and Prejudice 1995 was filmed, for a variety of reasons the team could not use the Lyme Park interiors. In case you’re wondering what the background of some of the scenes might have looked like if they were allowed, have a look:
What do you think? Would Mr Darcy’s bedroom have looked more impressive in dark oak rather than red silk? How about the music room or the gallery? Somehow, I personally can’t help thinking that it was a blessing in disguise that the interiors had to be filmed elsewhere. The exquisite Grinling Gibbons sculptures in the music room at Lyme Park are out of this world, the dining room is majestic and the Tudor splendour of the drawing room took my breath away when I first saw it. But I think the frothy and bright Sudbury Hall interiors, with the marvellously intricate plasterwork, have actually worked wonders for the 1995 adaptation, and were truly fitting to the light, bright and sparkling quality of the novel.
I said this before, I think it’s rather special that Pemberley 1995 is a patchwork of beautiful features found in different places and, to some extent, I think we all do that. Squirrel away details that caught our eye and weave our own interpretation with what we like best. The Pemberley of my Pride and Prejudice variations is a patchwork too. Sudbury Hall interiors, Lyme Park façade, the wonderful print-room from Calke covered in 18th century caricatures, the wonderfully warm and welcoming Calke Abbey library, hints of Basildon Park, Haddon Hall, Lacock and Charlecotte. I look for Pemberley in every country house I visit and it’s always a delight to find it.
Even more so because the story I am writing at the moment is based almost entirely at Pemberley. If you come back next month to read my May blog post I’m hoping to have more news about the release date, an excerpt and a giveaway. Hope you liked the Derbyshire glimpses and please come back soon!