The exterior shots of Mr Collins’ church in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice were shot not at St Peter Brooke, in Rutland which provided the interiors shots, but some 20 miles away in Northamptonshire at the village of Weekly, which is to be found just outside the town of Kettering. This village is part of the Boughton Estate which is owned by the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensbury.
The parish church at Weekly, St Mary’s shown above, was used for the exterior of Mr Collins’ church.
It was appropriate that this village was chosen ( and if this choice was intentional or not, I’m not sure) because we know from our old post that St Peter Brooke is interesting as it is a rare relict, an Anglican church of the Elizabethan era. The building that served as Hunsford Rectory ties in with the 17th century theme, as it was built in 1631 to serve as a set of almshouses.
Known as Montague’s Hospital-named after the member of the Montague family (the owners of Boughton) who founded it- was a place where poor old people could be housed and cared for in their dotage.
(Do remember you can enlarge all the illustrations here by clicking on them: do enlarge the photograph above as it is fascinating to see the painted detail and the stonework on the entrance to the building)
In the Northamptonshire edition of The Beauties of England and Wales by John Britton and Edward Waylake Bailey (1802) the following description of the village is given:
Weekly Church,about half a mile north-east of Warkton in the hundred of Orlingbury, contains a few old monuments to the Montagues of Boughton. At the east end of the north aisle is an altar tomb, with two stone effigies of Sir Edward Montague, Knight who died Jan.26 16021; and Elizabeth his wife, who died May 10th 1618. Another tomb, with a marble statue is raised to the memory of Edward Montague who died in 1556. Other slabs and flat stones contain inscriptions, some much mutilated, to other persons of the Montague family. Near the south side of the church is an hospital for seven poor men;and at the extremity of the village are traces of a moat &c, where an old cassellated manor-house is supposed to have formerly stood. In this parish is a spring of petrifying water, from which an incrusted skull has been taken and is preserved as a curiosity in Sydney College, Cambridge.
Here we see Lizzie Bennet (Kiera Knightly) arriving at Hunsford Rectory with the church in the background,and Charlotte waiting to greet her.
In reality, she has not come from the road from Westerham, but from the rear of the Hunsford Rectory itself. The building is now a private residence leased from the Boughton estate, so we can’t see the lovely simple internal corridor with it’s still life of apples
but we can see the room- which has windows on two sides, which was Charlotte’s sitting room and the rom where Lizzie had various meetings with Mr Darcy
The classical obelisk seen in the film, in front of the church, was in fact….
the village war memorial, cleverly disguised.
This would not have been in situ in the early 19th century, most British war memorials date from the 20th century. Hence the disguise, which worked well, I think.
You can see last year’s Poppy Wreath, laid there on Memorial Sunday ,the Sunday nearest 11th November…
The gates just to the right of the church lead to Weekly Park which in turn leads to Boughton House…
..the English Versailles. It is magnificent and well worth a visit ( but do check before you go: it is opened very rarely and usually only during the month of August) And though it wasn’t included in the film, I’m writing about it here because the garden is a rare survivor: an example of a mid 18th century formal landscape garden, of the type that disappeared during the latter part of the 18th century.
When you wander round the magnificent 18th century landscape garden,which is being restored, you catch glimpses of Weekly church , though the trees.
Long avenues of lime trees dominate, as do great formal stretches of water…canals and ponds….and all are being restored to their marvellous 18th century formality, as designed probably by Charles Bridgeman for the 2nd Duke of Montague in the 1720s. Here is the plan of the garden as it was in the 1740s
The plans, as you can see, included a monumental Mount (restored in 2007) from which to oversee the rest of the formal gardens, and rejoice in the patterns it created. A fantastic modern addition to the garden,a tribute to the formal style, has been made recently. Called Orpheus and completed in 2009, it is an inverted mount dug into the landscape with a reflecting pool at the bottom.
In this picture, you can see the 18th century Mount behind it, and the sloping path that leads to the pool at the bottom of the earth work designed by Kim Wilkie.
This is the view from the bottom to the top: the scale is difficult to gauge by these photographs,but it takes a good five minute, steady walk to reach the pool at the bottom! It truly is monumental-and breathtakingly beautiful in its severity.
I do hope you have enjoyed this jaunt around Weekly and the diversion to Boughton with all its treasures.