“It has been coming on so gradually, that I hardly know when it began. But I believe I must date it from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley”
That is an excerpt from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice where our heroine, Elizabeth Bennett explains to her sister when she realised that she was in love with the protagonist, Mr Darcy.
I too, fell in love with Mr Darcy. Except it was after watching Colin Firth portray him in the 1995 BBC production of Jane Austen’s famous book. But I also fell in love with the building that portrayed his country estate, Pemberley.
When I learned that Lyme Park in Cheshire was the setting for Pemberley in the BBC version, I knew that one day I would have to go and see ‘Pemberley’ for myself and perhaps find my own Mr Darcy?
Well the latter didn’t happen on the cold day in February 2017 when I finally got to Lyme Park – 22 years after I first saw it in the show. But I noticed a couple of things straight away:
- The view you get when making your way up the driveway to the house is not the same as the view that Elizabeth Bennett had from her carriage
- The driveway is freakishly long – maybe I’m just not use to going to an English country estate
- I really want to watch Pride and Prejudice again!
Once I finally got down the driveway, I parked at the bottom of a hill and proceeded to walk up towards the house. Trying not to slip over as I went because there had been a bit of rain the previous day and everything was muddy. (side note: When I took the car back to Hertz I apologised for the mess it was in but it had been pretty muddy wherever I went during the previous 8 days. The guy took one look at the car and said “You call that a mess?” .. I couldn’t help but feel relieved because to me, there was dirt everywhere 😀 )
Once I had gotten to the top of the hill, I could really appreciate the building I was looking at.
“It looks smaller”, I thought at the time. But once I went inside and wandered around the grounds, I came away with a different perspective.
So I got my entrance ticket then went into the chapel where there was going to be a 30 minute talk about the family who owned the building – which turned out to be rather fascinating so I am glad I went.
The ‘lake scene’!!!
The estate dates back to 1346 and parts of the current house were built around the end of the 16th Century. The house has been renovated and restored over the last few centuries by the same family, the Legh’s, until 1946 when it was given to the National Trust – not an unusual practice for these houses as they can become to expensive for the families to run themselves.
The story goes that the land was granted to the D’anyers family by Richard II (son of the Black Prince) because Sir Thomas D’anyers rescued the kings standard when it was dropped in battle 1346 – apparently in those days the kings standard was very important because it’s what the troops followed into battle, if they couldn’t see the standard they didn’t know who they were fighting for. The Legh’s family crest is a severed arm holding a standard, which is found throughout the house – including the main staircase where the end of the arm is red so it looks like it’s bleeding!
What I loved about Lyme Park is that you could actually sit down. You walk into the library, sit down on one of the seats and read up about the building or the particular room you were in. I found the staff (whether they were volunteers I am not sure), really quite passionate about the place and were very laid back and friendly. At one point, just after I arrived, one of the staff jumped on the grand piano and began playing it.
I have to admit that I found the house a lot more homely at Lyme Park than I did at Blenheim Palace.
Some interior photos below:
There was some very exquisite items and amazing artwork scatter throughout the hosue, giving you lots of different things to look at. While I was there, it was school holiday’s and they had a program where kids could dress up in Regency clothes and wear them around the property. It was a little bit eerie when I looked down one hallway that was empty apart from the young girl in period dress.
On the outside, the estate was equally impressive. Since I was visiting in winter, there were no flowers in bloom (save for the occasion snowdrop) and it would have been nice to see the flowers but the good thing was that there were not many people around due to the weather.
Some exterior photos below:
Walking in Mr Darcy & Miss Bennett’s footsteps
I wandered around the lake and came across the scene that I had been waiting for since arrived (ok, I’ve been waiting for it for 22 years!) – the house reflected in the lake.
And I was not disappointed! Honestly I am kind of glad that it was a grey day, I think it suited the house quite nicely.
I’m not even going to tell you how many photos I took of that scene but I will say, even I was embarrassed as to how many when I was looking back over my photos.
But then again.. I mean look at it!
Lyme Park Particulars:
- Lyme Park is located on the edge of the Peak District about 45 minutes drive from Manchester.
- For Opening Times, check the website for the day you wish to visit as opening times can change depending on what else is happening.
- Cost to visit the whole property is £11.00 for adults and £5.00 for children – family prices are also available.
- You can also get either just the house or garden entrance for reduced prices.
- Lyme Park is also popular with walkers – you need to pay for park entry with a car being £8.00 or minibus £12.00 (that is on top of your entrance fee for the house).
- If you don’t have a car, you can get the train to the local town of Disley and walk the 1/2 mile to the entrance or there are regular buses from Stockport and Buxton.
- If you are a member of the National Trust, you can get into Lyme Park and many other places around the UK for free.