I recently spent a busy five days in the northeast of England, ending my trip with a day in Derbyshire before flying home.
My mission? To visit three different ‘Pemberleys’ in one day! With the lack of time available, these were exterior ‘gardens and grounds’ visits only, but as interiors are often located elsewhere in Austen adaptations, it seemed a fair compromise!
As I was driving from Harrogate in North Yorkshire to Manchester Airport, my journey took me south and then east to west across the Peak District. My first stop, therefore, was Renishaw Hall and Gardens at Renishaw in Derbyshire.
This was a real find! The property has beautiful, classical, Italianate gardens, woodlands and a wider parkland with lakes. Though laid out in its present form by Sir George Sitwell at the end of the 19th century, it was used as the exterior and grounds for Pemberley in the BBC’s 1980 production of Pride & Prejudice.
The lawned gardens and flower beds are a delight, bordered by clipped hedges, stone statues and laid out as though in a series of outdoor ‘rooms’, with steps between the levels, fountains, and views across extensive parkland from the boundary. However, although I followed the path to the lakes, I could not see any resemblance to the waterside location where Mr Darcy later catches up with the visitors , so I suspect it may have been filmed elsewhere.
The gardens were incredibly peaceful and so beautiful in the warm sunshine. I could have lingered for hours, but alas it was not to be. As it was, I consoled myself by indulging in a cup of tea and slice of cake in the stables café before reluctantly tearing myself away, determined to revisit another day when I had more time available.
Back in the car, I headed west across the Peak District to my next stop: Chatsworth!
Chatsworth House near Baslow is actually mentioned in Pride & Prejudice and there has long been speculation over whether it was Jane Austen’s model for Pemberley. The description of its situation is certainly reminiscent of the house’s location:
They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; – and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance… they descended the hill, crossed the bridge, and drove to the door.
Pride & Prejudice, Volume Three, Chapter 1
However, I’ve recently attended a couple of talks on houses in Jane Austen’s works, and both of these, along with some further reading, has led me to suspect it is unlikely she envisaged it as such – Mr Darcy’s £10,000 a year, according to the experts, would be insufficient to support such a vast estate as Chatsworth.
Despite this, it is a wonderful place and certainly very pleasing to the eye! Exterior shots of the estate were used in the 2005 film of Pride & Prejudice, and include the Gardiners and Lizzy’s arrival to tour the property and Lizzy’s dash down the stone steps to get away from Mr Darcy when she is caught spying on his reunion with his sister.
I stopped for a quick lunch (soup and yet another cup of tea!) in the Stables Restaurant and left Chatsworth with a sigh of contentment. It never fails to cheer me, and I look forward to returning whenever the next opportunity presents itself.
My final destination before heading for Manchester airport was Lyme Park, known to all Colin Firth’s Darcy fans as Pemberley in the popular 1995 television series of Pride & Prejudice.
The gardens date back to 1570, but the original heather moorland was only developed and tamed after the Legh family came to Lyme in 1643, one of the first creations being the avenue of Lime trees. Gravelled walks followed, along with bowling greens and tennis courts, hot beds and greenhouses.
In 1687, a canal and fountain were added, allegedly influenced by enhancements on the Chatsworth estate. There then seemed a lull in the gardens’ development until 1813, at which time they were remodelled and the orangery begun. An Italian garden was developed in 1860, but this later became the Dutch garden due to the planting of many beds of tulips. The rose garden and herbaceous borders were not added until the early 20th century.
The only downside to Lyme Park being depicted as Pemberley is in its location! It isn’t in Derbyshire, but in the neighbouring county of Cheshire!
I had no time for indulgence in tea here, sadly, but enjoyed a brisk walk around the gardens and grounds, the adaptation clear in my mind as I walked. Amusingly, the map of the grounds has ‘Darcy’s Lake’ marked for those who are prepared to walk to see it – I didn’t have time on this visit but will make sure I go there next time!
I really enjoyed my whistle-stop tour of three Pemberleys in one day (and even passed the entrance to another when I first left Yorkshire – Harewood House – recent location of the Grand Depart of the Tour de France, which played its part as Pemberley in 2008’s hilarious Lost in Austen.)
All in all, it was a very Pemberley sort of day!
(Oh, and I haven’t forgotten about Part 2 of Stalking Jane Austen, but this was fresh in my mind this morning and jumped in the middle!)
Details on the three Pemberleys mentioned above can be found here:
Renishaw Hall Guided tours of the house available on selected dates; gardens and grounds open seasonally 5 days a week.
Chatsworth House House and grounds open daily Mar-Dec
Lyme Park – House open Feb-Oct 5 days a week; Garden open Feb-Oct 7 days a week; Park – open all year.
All photos are my own other than the really good one of Chatsworth from beyond the bridge, which belongs to http://www.timetravel-britain.com!