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Well, to the interiors of Pemberley as seen in the BBC’s 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice ;)
My dear Twitter friend Adrian Tinniswood tells me that Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire, which is owned by the National Trust, is today giving a tour of the house with emphasis on its Pride and Prejudice theme. They will be holding another group tour on this theme on the 30th June. Places are strictly limited, so if you want to book then do telephone the Hall on 01283 585337.
I’ve written about the interiors of Sudbury before, here, here and here…and so I know that on the tour you will see the elegant white and gold Salon where Darcy and Elizabeth had their rapprochement …
The Stair Case Hall where Mrs Gardiner began to understand that Wickham was not quite the thing
The Long Gallery where Elizabeth pondered the portrait of Darcy
and Mr Darcy’s bedroom itself!
Hello ! and belated Easter, Passover or General Spring and Chocolate Eating Festival Greetings from me. I’m sorry for my recent absence but I’m back refreshed and ready to share more Austen related news with you. Let’s get on, shall we….
You may recall that Montacute House near Yeovil in Somerset, above, was used as a location in Ang Lee’s version of Sense and Sensibility. It is a beautiful Elizabethan house, built in the latter part of the 16th century for the rich lawyer, Sir Edward Phelips. It is now in the care of the National Trust. In the 1995 film it was used as the location for Cleveland, the country estate of the Palmers, and was, of course, the place where Marianne Dashwood became dreadfully ill with a putrid fever after catching a cold, wandering around the grounds past the “brain ” hedge, as Ang Lee described this marvellous yew hedge in the grounds, below.
Andrew May who writes the lovely Lyme Regis Musuem blog, has just informed me that he is helping out with the new blog for Montacute house., and I thought you would all be interested to see it and perhaps follow it. Go here to see it.
I freely confess, I love to hear ‘back stage’ stories from country houses which are open to the public, so this blog is a real treat to read. The blog is packed with interesting information about the day to day running of the house, and its grounds and contents.
For example, the blog has recently published a series of fascinating posts about a portrait of James I by John de Critz. This portrait has been purchased by the Trust for the house, which is highly appropriate as it was its original home. It was believed to have been given by the King to Edward Phelips. The posts are fascinating, especially those that deal with the respiration which was undertaken after the portraits purchase, and I’m sure that Jane Austen as a fervent supporter of the Stuarts would approve ;)
The National Trust has realised, I think, that visitors to these houses like to glean a lot of information about them and that more informal methods of communicating- via websites or blogs – can not only spread the word but can also foster a community of supporters for individual properties. It is not possible to have backstage tours at many of their houses, or to allow physical visitors to see everything that goes on. Sharing news and information with virtual visitors via these blogs and the newly-designed web pages for each property is a low-impact but very effective way of allowing us to feel involved and in touch with the developments at these fascinating places. Monatcute is one of my favourites ( for, as you know, I am rather partial to Elizabethan and Jacobean houses) and I’m so glad I can keep ”in touch” with it and its doings in this way. I think it is an initiative that should be applauded and I hope it spreads to my other favourite properties. A blog can be hard work and time consuming but it is a wonderful means of communicating, and allows visitors who cannot always physically be there- for many reasons- the opportunity to feel involved and relevant. Which can only be good news for the Trust and its properties in in the long-term. Bravo.
This week the BBC has been repeating the 2002 documentary, The Real Jane Austen on BBC4, presumably as part of the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of both the Regency and the publication of Sense and Sensibility.
This is a very engaging programme, an hour long, presented by the actress, Anna Chancellor. Ms. Chancellor is not only famed for her wonderfully catty performance as Miss Bingley in the BBCs 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice, but also for the fact that Jane Austen was her eight times great-aunt.
It was also filmed at The Rectory at Teigh, which was used as the location for Mr Collins’ rectory in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.
The Rectory, which I have visited and written about here and here, was used as the location for the Steventon Rectory, where Jane Austen was born and grew up. The original building has long since been demolished, and I think, if you consider the original, shown below, that the rectory at Teigh is a fair replacement.
The hall at Teigh, shown below with its beautiful plasterwork, was also used as the drawing-room at Manydown, the scene of Jane Austen’s engagement and swift dis-enagagment to Harris Bigg Wither.
It uses an interesting device: all the main character are portrayed by actors,and not only do they re-enact various scenes from Jane’s life but give face to face interviews to the camera. The cast is very well chosen: John Standing is a sympathetic and kind Reverend Austen. Phyllis Logan, a sensible and straightforward Mrs Austen. My favourite was Jack Davenport as the ever so slightly arrogant Henry Austen, so sure his mother and sisters needed very little financial support upon which to live after the death of Mr Austen. Yes, well…
I do wish this were available to buy on DVD: it would make perfect viewing for GCSE students wanting a short, snappy but accurate overview of Jane Austen’s life and times.
I remember viewing it in 2002 and liking it: my opinion has not changed after seeing it again on Tuesday evening. It is not available to view on the BBC iPlayer, but it will be broadcast again on Sunday 11th September at 7.10p.m. and very early on Monday morning, the 12th September, at 1.50a.m. Go here for all the details.
In our last post we talked about the exteriors of the Old Rectory at Teigh in Rutland, used as the Hunsford Parsonage in the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
Today, let’s take a look at the interiors.
The Hall is a room we see mainly when Charlotte and Mr Collins are leaving ,with Maria to yet another scintillating evening at Rosings in the company of Lady Catherine.
Poor Elizabeth is glad to see them go so she can throughly make herself miserable by re-reading all Jane’s letters to her, for she is now, coourtesy of Colonel Fitzwilliam, in possession of the knowledge that Darcy did intervene to prevent Bingley from forming too strong an attachment to her sister. Badly done Darcy.
This is the most beautiful room, currently used by its owner as a guest dining room
In the adaptation it was painted grey but Mrs Owen has since painted it a more cheerful yellow.
The plaster work is stunning,and sets this room apart architecturally from the rest of the house.
The ceiling is amazingly detailed
The Staircase Hall again has some beautiful plasterwork decoration
with plaster pilasters, which boast wonderful Corinthian capitals,which flank the arched window.
If we go up another flight of stairs we come to the room that was used as Elizabeth Bennet’s Bedroom.
And which looks out onto the church to the side of the house
The bed is in a slightly different position,as you can see….
But one original feature still remains…..the corner closet
which had been so thoughtfully kitted out by Lady Catherine with…
And finally , down one flight of stairs, to the sitting room on the first floor, which was backwards, and used by Mrs Collins to insulate her from the irritations of her husband’s company…..
where she could receive welcome guests, such as Colonel Fitzwilliam…
and where Lizzy would receive, rather awkwardly, less than welcome ones…
who made insulting proposals of marriage while the clock on the mantle was stuck at 18:17….;)
This room is a delightful sitting room, used by guests to the Rectory.
It is still decorated in the same wallpaper, which makes the room so instantly recognisable to admirers of this adaptation.
It is very easy to reenact that dreadful proposal scenes in one’s head as you sit in the room…
..so vividly did that scenes impress itself on one’s memory.
And that ends our tour of the interiors…but fans of that adaptation will be pleased to note that you can actually stay at the Old Rectory for Victoria runs it as a thriving Bed and Breakfast business. If you go here you can access her website and make your booking. It is only 20 miles from Belton House, which was used as Rosings, and 16 miles from Stamford, the setting for Meryton in the other Pride and Prejudice, of 2005 with Matthew McFaddeyn and Keria Knightley. A perfect base for doing some adaptation based sight seeing;)
Last week I was lucky enough to be granted permission to photograph The Old Rectory in the village of Teigh in Rutland,which served as Mr Collins’ Rectory in the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
Today we shall look at the exteriors, and in the next post, the interiors.
We first see the Rectory in the adaptation when Elizabeth, Sir William Lucas and Maria Lucas visit the Collins’ in their home.
The gravelled drive sees the first meeting of Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte since her ruthlessly sensible marriage to Mr Collins.
And, it is, of course, the back ground to Fitzwilliam Darcy’s hasty retreat after his disastrous marriage proposal to Elizabeth, which was so roundly rejected.
It is interesting to note that while the church used as Mr Collins church was, in reality, on the Belton estate, the Belton parish church of St Peter and St Paul…
…the parish church and the Old Rectory at Teigh are nearly 20 miles away. Luckily, the church has a tower that is very similar to the church at Belton and as you can see, it is very difficult to spot the difference, especially during the small amounts of screen time either church was given.
This was, of course, one of the main reasons the production team chose the Old Rectory to serve as Hunsford Rectory. The owner, Victoria Owen confided to me that the reasons they chose her home was because of the church, the house was of the right period, and because it does have a parlour that faces “backwards” like Charlotte’s favoured room at Hunsford.
Elizabeth was thankful to find that they did not see more of her cousin by the alteration, for the chief of the time between breakfast and dinner was now passed by him either at work in the garden, or in reading and writing, and looking out of window in his own book-room, which fronted the road. The room in which the ladies sat was backwards. Elizabeth at first had rather wondered that Charlotte should not prefer the dining-parlour for common use; it was a better sized room, and had a pleasanter aspect; but she soon saw that her friend had an excellent reason for what she did, for Mr. Collins would undoubtedly have been much less in his own apartment had they sat in one equally lively; and she gave Charlotte credit for the arrangement.
More on that in the next post.
Teigh is a tiny, beautifully peaceful village in Rutland, England ’s smallest county, set in some fabulously serene countryside. This is the view from the church over the surrounding fields…
The parish church at Teigh, Holy Trinity, is ancient, but the interior, very suitably, dates from 1782. I have not taken any photographs of the interior, for it didn’t appear in the adaptation, but if you go here you can see just how stunning this rare survivor of a church interior of the Georgian era truly is.
The church is very close to the Rectory as you can see from this photograph.
Perfect for filming.When I visited sheep were safely grazing in the churchyard, amid the ancient headstones…
and this delightfully friendly lamb made my acquaintance. Idyllic.
Next, the interesting interiors.
This is the third and final of our posts on Kirby Hall in Northamptonshire, which was used as the setting for Mansfield Park in Patricia Rozema’s 1999 adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel. Today we shall concentrate on the exteriors and the garden.
This is how it appeared in the film. As you can see below, if you look carefull at the windows to the left of the central entrance, you can see that this part of the range is now ruined,but by artful use of glass and temporary glazing, the filmmakers disguised the wrecked nature of that part of the building.
The north side of the inner courtyard, which faces the entrance above, was used as the main entrance to Mansfield in the film.
This north side of the courtyard actually contains a loggia- an arcaded space- on the ground floor,which supported another long gallery on the first floor.
This has all disappeared, and there is no roof or first floor actually remaining…just the ruined loggia beneath…
This shows the view through the entrance to the inner courtyard on to the forecourt…
The formal gardens, the West Gardens, have been extensively restored after years of careful excavations, and this is where ,in the film, Miss Crawford was given her infamous riding lesson.
We see part of this scene from a vantage point through a window on the first floor of the house.
The garden is extremely beautiful, and is a recreation of how it would have appeared in the mid 17th century.
The walk from the house to a formal “Mount”, a viewing point in the garden was also used
by Mary and Henry Crawford, walking along a gravel walk near to the parterre.
and this is a video of the site taken from that viewpoint..complete with strimming gardener sound effects….my apologies…
The magnificent bay windows also feature in the film, and they are as beautiful outside as in, giving the feel ,as Sacheverell Sitwell described them in 1945 as appearing like two galleons at anchor, side by side…
To the right of these windows is the service wing of the house…which is now in ruins…
And this site was used for one of the final scenes in the film, showing the remaining family at home at Mansfield.
And that concludes our tour of the buildings as used by the film. It is a most beautiful setting and I would recommend you to go and see it, as it has a unique atmosphere. And students of architecture would love it as in many places the bones of the building are laid bare…
But before we leave you may be interested to note that there is a genuine Jane Austen connection to Kirby Hall. During the late 18th/early 19th centuries the hall was owned by a neighbour of Edward Austen Knight’s in Kent: George Finch Hatton of Eastwell Park
Jane Austen found his wife to be trying company, as she was not a great conversationalist.
I have discovered that Lady Elizabeth, for a woman of her age and situation, has astonishingly little to say for herself, and that Miss Hatton has not much more. Her eloquence lies in her fingers; they were most fluently harmonious.
Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 24th August 1805.
And I daresay Mrs Finch Hatton had an interesting tale should she have wished to tell it, as she was the granddaughter of Lord Mansfield the judge,and was brought up by Mansfield and his wife in the company of her illegitimate cousin, Dido Elizabeth Belle. Here they are in the famous painting of them, once thought to be by Zoffany:
©The Earl of Mansfield
You can read more of her story here. No wonder Jane Austen was all astonishment at her silence. Convinced as I am that Jane Austen named her novel Mansfield Park as an abolitionist tribute to Lord Mansfield,who had presided in the famous Somerset Case, I wonder if the makers of the film knew of this connection between their choice of film location and Jane Austen’s political views? I do hope this wasn’t all accidental,but suspect it may have been….
In our last post we looked at some of the interiors of Kirby Hall which were used in the 1999 film adaptation of Mansfield Park, starring Jonny Lee Miller.
Let’s continue our tour with a look at the rooms, some on the on the upper floors which were very cleverly adapted for use in the film..
When Fanny first arrives at Mansfield we see a fleeting glance from a window in the Great Stair down into the ruins of what was the West Lodgings and the Long Gallery…
This is now a completely ruined space, the floors long gone….
We then see the room that becomes Fanny’s sanctuary….
Time passes and we next see the young Fanny transfigured into the feisty Fanny we all have difficulty recognising…
These scenes were filmed in the Bedchamber/Billiard room on the ground floor of the Hall, and this is one of the rooms in the Hall that has been recently restored to how it would have appeared in the late 18th century.
The bay windows of the rooms on the South Front of the house are a most wonderful architectural feature, both inside and out…
Sir Thomas’s study was a film set created within a room, and had sliding doors,a very unlikely feature in a 17th century house.
The room adapted for use by the production staff appears to have been the Great Chamber,which is to be found on the first floor of the Hall.
It is as you can see a very large space and is in a totally restored state.
As I understand it the set was a free standing room created within this room, rather like an inner skin, a technique also used for the formal drawing-room at Mansfield, see below.
The Secondary Stair was used for Fanny’s rencontres with Henry Crawford,and the distinctive carved handrail is still to be seen…
The formal drawing room was created by again making a room within a room, this time in another of the Bedchambers on the ground floor.
This was extremely cleverly done, the columns were tromp l’oeil paint effects, and were painted onto the skin of the room…
The designers managed to incorporate the marble fireplace which is still extant in the room.
Though I did not enjoy the film, I have to say that the work of the production designers and staff was very cleverly done, not harming the fabric of the Hall at all, but by using certain architectural features within the Hall, they managed to crate a magnificent stage set, don’t you think?
Kirby Hall in Northamptonshire is a magnificent relict of a past age, owned and maintained by English Heritage. It is now half-ruined, having been abandoned by its owners in the early 18th century, and by the 19th it was in a ruinous state. This continued until 15 years ago when the gardens and some interiors were restored. It was used by Patricia Rozema in the 1999 film of Mansfield Park to represent the house owned by Sir Thomas Bertram that is so central to the book.
I ought to say, from the outset, that the 1999 version of Mansfield Park is not my favourite of any of the adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels.By a long way… It failed to hit its targets, and accordingly the film failed for me on so many levels. Fanny was depicted as a strange combination of the young Jane Austen and one of the Pankhursts, Sir Thomas was a depraved monster,Lady Bertram as a drug addict and the slavery allusions were conveyed in a less than subtle manner….and, as ever, the multilayered meaning of the original novel was lost, and it all boiled down to a sort of strange love story. For me the film never set alight despite having a rather stella cast.
And I never, ever imagined Mansfield itself as being ruined, as it was portrayed in the film. Nor being that old, for Mansfield is described as a
a spacious modern–built house,
in chapter 5 of the novel, by Mary Crawford, a woman who knew about these things. As you can clearly see from the plan below, Kirby would clearly not qualify on that score.
In fact the only thing that was correct about the choice of Kirby Hall as Mansfield was that it is to be found in Northamptonshire where the novel was mainly set. But….as you can see, Kirby Hall is incomparably beautiful, and I thought you might be interested to see it. Today and in the next post I’ll deal with the interiors and finally I’ll write about the exteriors as used in the film.
First, a little about the history of the Hall. It was rebuilt by Sir Humphrey Stafford in 1570, but was completed by Sir Christopher Hatton, a favourite of Elizabeth I, in the hope she would visit so magnificent a mansion…sadly, she never came. For some years it was thought that the great Elizabethan architect, John Thorpe ( no, not that John Thorpe) was the architect of the Hall, due to an early plan of the house on which a John Thorpe has written
” I layed ye first stone AD 1570″
However, it has since been realised that John Thorpe was only then about 7 years old, and it was most probably his father,Thomas Thorpe a master mason who came from the nearby village of Kings Cliffe , who was most likely to be the man who oversaw the building of the mansion. His son, John, most probably laid the foundation stone as was a common practise during the Elizabethan era.
To the film….
The Great Hall was used as one of the main drawing rooms of the house.
Though we are not shown it, the east end of this room has a minstrels gallery, for the Great Hall was used as the main dining room for the grand Elizabethan household…
The ceiling is very beautiful…
And the door in the west wall leads to the Great Stair….
We first see The Great Stair when the young Fanny first arrives at Mansfield.
The Great Stair was meant to impress and leads upwards to the Grand State Rooms in the floors above
A feature of Kirby are the handrails of the staircases,which are carved from stone and set into the walls…
It is a rather wonderful space…bathed in the most beautiful light…
And the leaded lights throw interesting shadows onto the walls
And the very tactile handrails….In my next post I will describe the rooms used on the first floor. Do join me, even if this is not your favourite adaptation, as the rooms on the first floor are fascinating.
As we have seen in on our previous two posts about Burghley as the setting for Rosings in the 2005 production of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly, Burghley House was used as the setting for Lady Catherine’s Drawing Room and her Dining Room.
The park was also used for one shot in the film. Burghley Park is a real park with herds of deer, so Mary Crawford would no doubt approve. The park wall is over 5 miles in circumference and the park has an acreage of 1,400 acres. It was landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability ‘ Brown whose intriguing portrait by Sir Nathaniel Dance, shown below, is part of the collection at Burghley House.
We see the West front of the house in the scene in Pride and Prejudice when an agitated Mr Collins is urging Elizabeth and Charlotte to hurry and not keep the formidable Lady Catherine waiting ….
This is the magnificent oak tree the trio are seen approaching in the park
And here is the West Front of the house…
With its Gilded Gates …..
Of course, in reality, the Collins party would have found it rather difficult to walk directly across the park to the West Front..because of the ha-ha that separates the ornamental gardens from the park…..
It sweeps round in a curve, separating the oak tree from the dangers of being eaten by the deer- still to be found wandering freely the other side of the ha-ha.
The main entrance to the house is protected by these fabulous wrought iron gates…
which are decorated with the gilded crest of the Cecil family
And they still maintain a sentry box…..which is truly redundant these days
for the gates are operated electronically,and not opened by a retainer,patiently waiting within it for guests to arrive, upon hearing the trumpet sound at a distant gate.
The ground to the north of the house slopes away quite dramatically towards the river Welland, and it was here on a bright sunny morning in 2004, that I in the company of my two children auditioned for parts as extras in the film. We didn’t get the parts and were sad. My daughter’s English Master was however, successful,and can be seen in the Meryton Ball screen wearing a spectacular painful and odd-looking wig.
However some time later I met the screenwriter of Pride and Prejudice, Deborah Moggarch, who consoled me in my failure to achieve fame on the big screen by explaining that the director wanted a certain “look” for the Meryton scenes. Hogarthian was the style he wished to promote. According to Deborah we were obviously too nice looking to be included in the rough rabble that made up the company at the Meryton Assembly (!) Needless to say my daughter took great delight in informing her English Master of this interesting snippet of information.
The entrance for visitors to the house which leads to the old kitchen, did have a small exhibit of costumes from Pride and Prejudice during the year the film was released.
Mr Darcy’s fine wool breeches and coat were on display as well as Elizabeth Bennet’s rather run down green linen dress…
This had a homemade tatting edging to the neckline and was darned and mended in many places.
Charlotte Collins’ grey linen dress was also on display and I was interested to see that the patterned fabric of her under dress was very similar to a real sample of an early 19th century fabric,
which can be found in Barbara Johnson’s Album of Styles and Fabrics, kept by the Victoria and Albert museum,and available as a facsimile.
This album is a magical survivor, a record kept by Barbara Johnson,of all her clothes from 1746 until 1821,with fashion plates inserted amongst the fabric samples. Her piece of a blue spotted muslin of 1812 is very similar to the design worn by Charlotte Lucas.
The park at Burghley is open to the public all year round,even when the house is not open. It is a wonderful place to walk,and indeed I am just back from a bracing walk there this morning. I do urge you all to visit Burghley even if you were not enamoured of Pride and Prejudice 2005. It’s a marvellous day out (and the Orangery restaurant is pretty good too)
Next in this series, Kirkby Hall as used in Patricia Rozema’s Mansfield Park.
Last week we talked about Burghley House and its fantastic Heaven Room which was used as the location for Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s drawing-room at Rosings in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.
Today we are going to consider another room at Burghley, whose rose garden is shown above and whose magnificent oriel window in the great hall is shown below….
The room that merits our attention this week is the Bow Room which served as Lady Catherine’s dining room at Rosings in the 2005 film.
This is another of Burghley’s many painted rooms. It was created in 1697 by Louis Laguerre, the French artist, who was also Louis XIV’s godson. He appears to have been an altogether more personable character than Verrio about whom we wrote last week, and, unlike Verrio, no tales of scandal and debaucheries are told about Laguerre at Burghley today.
The room is, as you can see, quite dark. It faces north and while these painted rooms worked well in sunnier climes, as seen, no doubt, by teh 5th Earl of Exeter on his Grand Tour of Europe, the decoration does cast rather a gloom in the cold Lincolnshire light. The room was originally designed by the 5th Earl as a State Dining Room, but its chilly aspect meant that it gradually fell out of use: the kitchens were a long way away and the food was invariably cold when it reached the hungry diners waiting in this room! Eventually it evolved into a second billiard room and then into a music room until 1990 when the painted surfaces of the room were extensively restored. The room is now fitted up for display and the dining table is set up as it would have been for a formal dinner during the Victorian era. The West wall, below….
And the East wall, compete with fireplace, again below, show scenes from the lives of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony.
The south wall, which can be seen behind Lady Catherine when she sits at the head of the dining table depicts The Conduct of Scipio Towards His fair Captive
The room now contains articles that had to be removed or put out of shot during the filming of Pride and Prejudice: this bust, below, of the Duke of Wellington would have been highly anachronistic for a film set in 1796, when he was merely a colonel serving in the Netherlands and India.
And this magnificent 19th century silver racing trophy , together with, on the window sill, a silver model of the 3rd Marquess of Exeter as Colonel of the Northamptonshire Regiment, made in 1888, were not seen in the film.
We did see a plethora of footmen( just what exactly is the correct collective noun for a group of footmen?) which is reflective of this section from Chapter 29 of Pride and Prejudice that describes the initial dinner at Rosings attended by Elizabeth Charlotte and Mr Collins-but note, not Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam:
The dinner was exceedingly handsome, and there were all the servants and all the articles of plate which Mr. Collins had promised; and, as he had likewise foretold, he took his seat at the bottom of the table, by her ladyship’s desire, and looked as if he felt that life could furnish nothing greater.
As to the dinner being exceedingly handsome, it was certainly very lavish in this production. And in what was most probably a deliberate move, the dinner is shown to be slightly old-fashioned. Do note the peacock pie to the right of Lady Catherine at the far end of the table, below:
Peacock pies were very popular throughout the 17th century till the mid 18th century, as part of courtly shows of expense and luxury. The one below made by Ivan Day of Historic Foods is typical of the 17th century : the head and tail feathers were always used to decorate such a pie, not only because they were spectacular, but because their presence also indicated what meat was to be found inside the pie.
The latest recipe I can find for a peacock pie is in John Thacker’s book,The Art of Cookery written in 1758
Here is the recipe which you can enlarge by clicking on it.
Thacker was the cook to the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral and their hospitality was courtly, lavish and legendary. But ever so slightly old-fashioned by 1796 the date the film was set ( and also the date when Jane Austen wrote First Impressions which was to eventually become Pride and Prejudice in 1813).
Lady Catherine, who was played by Dame Judi Dench, is always shown in a sack dress( this purple confection was on show at Burghley House in the Bow Room tin 2005-6,and it was magnificent) which would also have be seen as old fashioned in 1796 . I can only conclude that the filmmakers wanted to depict Lady Catherine as grand and slightly set in her ways, which character traits were reflected in her choice of food and of dress. Qutie a clever conceit, bearing in mind how stubborn the old bat could be…..
Once again I should like to thank the Burghley House Preservation Trust , the House Manager and the Room Stewards for all their kindness and assistance shown to me when I visited Burghley to prepare this post.
Burghley House in Stamford, Lincolnshire was the location chosen to represent Rosings, Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s home in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. It might at first appear to have been an odd choice. Rosings in the text is clearly referred to as a modern house-
It was a handsome modern building, well situated on rising ground
-all done no doubt to subtly throw doubt on the age of Sir Lewis de Boughs “noble” origins. Burghley is so obviously an Elizabethan house, built in the late 16th century for Queen Elizabeth I’s loyal minister, William Cecil, and therefore could never have been thought of as “new” in 1796 ,when this adaptation was set.
However, it was convenient. It is to be found on the outskirts of the town of Stamford, which was the real town used as the setting for Meryton in the film (and which I have previously written about here and here)
In this first post of three about Burghley and Pride and Prejudice, I will write about one of the rooms used in the adaptation…the Heaven Room.
This was the setting for Lady Catherine’s drawing-room at Rosings…
where Elizabeth is introduced to a rather formidable Lady Catherine in the company of Charlotte and Mr Collins…and unexpectedly meets Mr Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam , Lady Catherine’s nephews, who were also staying there…
…and where after dinner, we learn that Anne de Bourgh doesn’t play due to her delicate health…
But eventually Elizabeth is persuaded to play..though she does so very indifferently and with a very bad grace….not performing to strangers, indeed.
The Heaven Room,where these scenes were filmed is simply an astounding room. It is almost totally painted,
all the walls and ceiling,with roundels executed in grisaille over the entrances.
Seen in bright sunlight-as on the day I took my photographs- it all encompassing effect is almost overwhelming…
The gods and goddesses disporting themselves amidst tromp l’oeil columns and pediments, the sky seamlessly merging with the painted walls…
…a magically painted rainbow cutting through the scene on the right.
The room was painted by Antonio Verrio, the celebrated Italian muralist,who was patronised by Charles II (my hero)and James II, creating painted interiors at Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace but who later fell out of court favour with the accession to the throne of William III.
He stayed at Burghley for some considerable time, painting these magnificent rooms, becoming part of the 5th Earl of Exeter’s social circle, even joining an informal gentleman’s private drinking club known as the Little Bedlam Club, based at Burghley and whose other members included the portraitist Sir Godfrey Kneller and the Earl himself. The club was well named in Verrio’s case ( the rules of the club are still on display in the Billiard Room in the House) for he was(and still is!!) known for causing havoc in the nearby town of Stamford running up tremendous bar bills and gaming debts and “wenching” in a rather George Wickham-like manner. intriguingly he included a portrait of himself in this room, and here it is in close up below….
He is shown without his usual Baroque wig , sketching while sitting in the forge of the cyclops, which you can see to the right of the centre section, shown below the falling rainbow.
Obviously it was logically too hot to wear a wig in such circumstances…
Choosing such grand and Baroque interiors certainly contributed to the impression of the grandness of Lady Catherine’s social situation in this film, emphasising the social gulf between Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy’s family and relations, though a modern interior for the time would have been more appropriate, in my opinion.
I should like to thank the Trustees of Burghley House Preservation Trust , Phillip Gompertz, the house manager and the room Stewards for all their assistance , kindness and for granting me permission of photograph the Heaven Room. And also for allowing me to reproduce images 2-5 in this post. Burghley is a magical house, with stunning interiors( more on these in the next post) marvellous grounds and above all a happy atmosphere throughout all the house and the parts of the estate open to the public. If you can, do go and visit, for its welcome is always warm and the contents are always amazing to see, with something new to discover on every trip.
Next in this series, The Bow Room, used as Lady Catherine’s dining room.
Back to Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire for the final part of the series of posts on the rooms used for the Pemberley interior scenes in the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Part 1 is accessible here and Part 2 is accessible here. The rooms under discussion in this post are both on the first floor of the Hall: you can see their positions clearly marked on the floor plan below: they are the Long Gallery and the Queen’s Room:
(©National Trust )
The Queen’s Room is found by climbing the Great Staircase and taking the door to the left of the stairs.
This room is the grandest bedroom in the Hall, and was originally the state bedroom, known as the Great Stairhead Chamber in the 1670s when the Hall was first built. Below, you can see the entrance to the room leading from the Great Staircase.
It was called the Queen’s Room after its royal inhabitant, Queen Adelaide, Queen Consort of William IV, who leased Sudbury Hall from Lord Vernon and lived there near the end of her life in the 1840s.
(Queen Adelaide by Sir William Beechey)
We see the room briefly in the BBC’s adaptation, on the morning after the evening at Pemberley when the Gardiners and Elizabeth Bennet had joined Darcy Georgiana, the Hurts and the Bingleys at dinner.
Mr Darcy is shown getting dressed in his own rather exact manner before the great bed and the magnificent fireplace, just prior to riding to Lambton to visit Elizabeth Bennet at the inn.
We are also shown his manservant hurriedly bringing a selection of jackets to him….
The bed is magnificent….
and the lustrous silk lining the walls was restored in 1969, the new silk copied from the 18th century fabric which then decorated the walls.
The great chimney-piece is made of alabaster and was carved by William Wilson, the Leicester born carver who also worked on Lichfield Cathedral(not far from a place Jane Austen knew well, Hamstall Ridware ) during its restoration in the 1660s.
The room is sumptuous and friendly despite its size. It is one of the least intimidating state bedrooms I know….
The final room on our journey around the virtual Pemberley is another favourite of mine: the Long Gallery.
This is simply a stupendous room. A relict of a past, even when it was built in the 1670s. originally long galleries such as this stunning example which can be found at Aston Hall near Birmingham,
were used as places where exercise could be taken on a wet or wintery day and many are found in Elizabethan and Jacobean houses. It was unusual to add one to a house built in the 1670s. They were also places where family portraits could be exhibited with ease- all grouped together in one long room, a metaphor for the continuity and longevity of the family concerned. In the late 19th/ early 20th century the fashion was to use the rooms as long reception rooms, divided by clusters of furnishings and, in Sudbury’s case, bookcases.This is how the Long Gallery appeared in 1904.
The bookcases and collections of Greek and Etruscan vases have now gone and left in their place is this elegant room,with little to detract from the magical detail of the plaster decoration of the ceiling.
The ceiling is again the work of the London craftsmen, Bradbury and Pettifer (who also worked in the saloon). Its detail is astounding-there are even grasshoppers on the rosette above the central bay window.
We first see this room in the adaptation on the tour of Pemberley conducted by Mrs Reynolds.
The Gardiners and Elizabeth are shown along the gallery…
to the spot where Mr Darcy’s portrait hangs…
And Elizabeth Bennet again contemplates what might have been….
The portrait was especially commissioned by the BBC,and I understand that it was given to Colin Firth,who played Darcy, as a gift at the end of filming: he in turn gave it to this mother….
But last year it was sold and the proceeds given to charity
Go here to read about it: it fetched am amazing amount of money…..
We also see the gallery lit by moonlight, in the scene where Darcy is on his way to the saloon in the company of his dogs, remembering just how well his rapprochement with Elizabeth Bennet is proceeding….
And though it is never shown, here is the view from the Long Gallery to the gardens and lake below…
And that ends our tour of the interiors of this version of “Pemberley” : I do hope you have enjoyed it. Next in this series, Burghley House, the setting for Rosings in the 2005 production of Pride and Prejudice.
The interim results are in – and yes- once again the country house sale effect has resulted in massively inflated prices. The sale was expected to realise a total of £2.5 million from 20,000 lots. On the first day it raised £4.4 million, and a further £2.1 million on the second day, making a total of £6.5 million.
An item from the now demolished Devonshire House -shown above- that once stood in Piccadilly opposite Green park, attained the highest sale price.
It was a white marble George II chimneypiece dating from circa 1755.
Here it is shown in situ, in the Saloon at Devonshire House circa 1900. It was probably designed by William Kent and carved by John Bosun. Estimated at between £200,00-£300,000 it sold for £565,250.
A magnificent mahogany bookcase dating from 1805-1810, attributed to the makers Marsh and Tatham after designs by Thomas Hope, shown below in his fashionable Ottoman Empire garb, in a portrait by Sir William Beechey dating from 1798, was also for sale.
It was commissioned by William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire in association with his then wife, Lady Elizabeth Foster, as part of their plan for remodelling the Duke’s bedroom at Devonshire house, and is also sold well.
The enamel, diamond and ruby brooch shown below, sold as the property of Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire,the present Duke’s mother and only surviving Mitford sister, was estimated at £80-100.
It eventually sold for £8,500. My goodness….now that’s what I call an attic sale.
Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire was used for the interior shots of Pemberley House in the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. We learnt in our post here of the rooms used by the BBC on the ground floor of Sudbury; the entrance passage, library and saloon, but today’s post concentrates on the last room on the ground floor to be used; indeed, it is the room that links the ground and the first floors of the house, The Great Staircase.
It is in the Great Staircase that Mrs Gardiner spots the miniature of Wickham, still on display, not on the walls of the family dining room, as in the book, but in a vitrine.
This is the approximate position of the vitrine, now taken by a 17th century side table.
And it is in the Great Staircase room that Mrs Reynolds learns that Elizabeth is already acquainted with Mr Darcy - a little- and Mrs Gardiner begins to suspect that something is not quite right with George Wickham…..
Which all makes for a thoughtful ascent of the Great Staircase itself.
The Great Staircase is probably the finest existing example of a late 17th century staircase in the country.
It was most probably designed by the Hall’s first owner, George Vernon. The carving of the balustrade was executed by Edward Pierce (1630?-1695) who had also been employed in the Saloon (go here to see his work there). Pierce was commissioned by Sir Christopher Wren to provide decoration for some of the new City churches which were designed by Wren after the Great Fire of London,and the effect of the Great Staircase is similar to that found in those churches.
The balustrade is carved in lime wood and the fruit and flower baskets in elm.
The plasterwork was entrusted to James Pettifer,who also worked in the Saloon. The plasterwork is sumptuous and encrusts the ceiling and the under slopes of the staircase.
The magnificently carved door-case, which leads from the Great Staircase to the Saloon, was created by Thomas Young a master carver from Chatsworth. Normally access to the the Great Staircase is forbidden to the general public, in order to try and preserve the detailed work from wear and tear and accidental damage, but on the day I visited to take these photographs,we had to suddenly leave the building via that route from the first floor of Sudbury, as a fire alarm began to sound. I took this opportunity to take this somewhat blurred photograph of the door surround, to the horror of my children who were rather more keen that I vacated the building safely….
This is the view from the top of the Great Staircase…
The ceiling paintings were executed by Louis Laguerre and it is thought that George Vernon again was inspired by his neighbours at Chatsworth when he commissioned him, for Laguerre worked in the Great Painted Hall there too.
The Great Staircase was restored in 1969 and decorated by John Fowler in two shades of white paint on the panelling and balustrade, and this distinctive yellow on the walls. I have always loved this effect but now it is questioned as to whether it is historically correct.
My Twitter friend Patrick Baty of the historical colourists,Papers and Paints has written this critique of John Fowler and his work with the National Trust and it makes for very interesting and thought provoking reading.
But, whatever its demerits historically, I confess I shall always love the bright, light effect of this joyous colour in such a bravura room…despise me if you dare…
Next in this series, the remaining rooms at Sudbury which were used as Pemberley Interiors.
Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire, once the home of the Vernon family and now administered by the National Trust, was used by the BBC as the location for the interiors of Pemberley House in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Erle.
The house was built in the 1660s by George Vernon: it is thought that the building took place between 1661-1701. It is in fact a strange mix of styles and some aspects of the building were positively old-fashioned for the era in which it was erected. It is built in an “E” shape, a style favoured by the Elizabethans as a tribute to the Virgin Queen, and its external features-the pattern of the bricks, and the carved stone entrances, all hark back of the past, to the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. The cupola is, however, a very typically Carolinian feature. The interiors were also a mixture of the old and the new, and the inclusion of a Long Gallery, running the whole length of the garden front on the first floor,was a decidedly odd and old-fashioned feature in a house of this period. But that all worked in Sudbury’s favour when the producers were sourcing an appropriate interior to use for the rooms of Pemberley House. The slightly old-fashioned but grand rooms of Sudbury easily conveyed the impression of the Darcys as a family that was old-established gentry, not new money like the Bingleys, and the rooms were grand enough to reflect the Darcy ‘s associations with the aristocracy and their great riches. Shall we apply to the housekeeper to take our tour? Let’s ring the Bell, then….
Here is a plan of the rooms on the ground floor at Sudbury; do note that this and, indeed, all the other illustrations in this post can be enlarged by clicking upon them, in order to see the detail. The rooms that were used in the 1995 adaptation were the rooms to the right of the entrance passage.
(Plan ©National Trust)
They are marked in red on the plan below as 1) The Entrance Passage, 2) The Library, 3) The Drawing Room and 4) The Saloon. The Great Staircase was also used in the production but we shall deal with that ,and with the other rooms, on the First Floor, that were used in the adaptation in our next post in this series.
And we also see him greeting the innocent Georgiana Darcy.
The Entrance Passage as you can see from the plan above, runs the whole width of the house. It has a stone floor which was laid in 1671.
The day I visited , I’m afraid it was also very overcast outside, and so these photographs are a little dark. Do forgive me.
The next room on our tour is the Library. We see this in the tour of Pemberley conducted by Mrs Reynolds.Sadly, she gives incorrect information at this point , telling us and the Gardiners that this room was the favourite of the late Mrs Darcy. Of course as the daughter of an Earl, Fitzwilliam Darcy’s mother would have been correctly referred to as the late Lady Anne Darcy, not a mere Mrs!
The desk in the room was the one used in the adaptation….
In the Letter sequence, this is where George Wickham is compensated for not wanting to be a clergyman…
The wallpaper in the room was copied by Coles of London, the famous wallpaper firm, from a remnant found behind one of the bookcases during the restoration of the room by John Fowler in 1969. More on the somewhat controversial aspects of John Fowler’s restoration in my next post on Sudbury.
This room has always been a favourite of mine-I’ve been visiting the house since it was opened to the public by the National Trust. It has a cosiness and warmth perfect for contemplating books and engravings. The room that lies next to it on the plan is the Drawing Room, and this is glossed over in the adaptation,The Gardiners and Elizabeth merely walk though it, and Mrs Reynolds doesn’t mention it.
She then welcomes them into what she calls The Music Room and is known at Sudbury as the Saloon, the most important of the reception rooms at Sudbury. When it was first built it was probably used as a dining room.
It has the most wonderful plaster work on the ceiling, executed by James Pettifer and Robert Bradbury engaged expensively from London and the magnificent carving that decorates the walls was by Edward Pierce, -look at the magnificent swags of cloth,fruit and flowers- and all were completed in the late 1670s.
The panelling was made from trees grown on the Sudbury estate and was installed by Thomas Johnson in 1677.
Not that the carving and the panelling is highlighted in gilt…
Which gives a beautiful effect in sunlight or in shade
it is of course while in this room that Elizabeth Bennet has her moment of regret: “And of this place,” thought she, “I might have been mistress!
And this is the scene she looks out onto……except that it is not. She (and we) see the view of the grounds at Lyme Park in Cheshire, which provided the exteriors of Pemberley House and grounds.
If Elizabeth looked out of this window in the saloon at Sudbury-and this is the exact spot where she stood…
she would, in fact see this scene: a semi-formal garden…
leading down to the swans on the lake.
The fireplace is made of jasper and was added in the 1860s..but that didn’t prevent Miss Bingley from making her unfortunate remarks about Elizabeth Bennet’s tan whilst standing before it
And it was a useful place for Darcy to rest his hopeful head when recalling the rapprochement between Elizabeth and himself…
The Saloon at Sudbury is one of my favourite rooms in any of the hundreds of country houses I’ve visited over the years. And the rooms in the next post are also among my favourites: I do hope you will join me on Part II of our tour.
As Jane Austen knew well, a house in town (London) was the “pineapple of perfection”, “Everything that is charming!” to quote Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, a distinctive social marker of the most financially secure of her male characters and the highest social aspiration for many of her female characters( though I always feel that Austen herself preferred the safety and security of country society to that of town, that Scene of Dissipation of Vice). As Professor Edward Copeland writes in The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, in the chapter on Money:
In terms of consumer show any income over £4000 a year is characterised by its ability to provide a house in London for the social season, the beguiling consumer temptation that brings romantic disaster to both Mary Crawford and Maria Bertram.
After the devastation of old London in the fire of 1666, the development of the fashionable west end of London- Mayfair and its surrounding districts-far away from the fire devastated City- saw a major period of building of grand town house, squares and crescents, with which we visitors to, or inhabitants of London are now totally familiar. This building gradually spread northwards from the streets around St James’s Palace in the first decades of the eighteenth century, and by the mid 17690s there were extensive developments built to the west and north of Cavendish Square in Marylebone, in the streets bounded by Oxford Street, the New Road (which is now known as the Euston Road)to the north and Portland Place to the east. At the same time, the Bedford Estate was being developed with the establishment of the squares and streets of Bloomsbury, and there were other isolated developments, such as the Adelphi, south of the Strand near the river Thames, that were attracting fashionable tenants.
(Adam House Adam Street Adelphi,London a survivor of the ill-fated development designed by Robert and James Adam, circa 1770,and which the eaged -eyed amongst you will recognise as the location used for Mr and Mrs john Dashwood’s town house in the film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility 1995)
Much of the land was owned outright by aristocratic families –The Russell’s of the Bedford estates, the Grosvenors of Mayfair etc.,etc.,- and was therefore entailed and could not be sold, or it was in the hands of corporate landowners who developed it to provide a long-term steady income: a result of this prime ownership was that most houses were held on leases and building was large-scale and uniform, despite the occasional individual house built for a very rich patron.
Rachel Stewart’s book, The Town House in Georgian London addresses the development of this phenomenon from the view of the architect and his patrons, male and female. She explains with wonderful clarity the role of these houses, and why the location, planning, furnishing and finish of a house was of vital importance, something with contributed seriously to the image of the owners/lesees.
The finances involved in buying and affording a house in the West End is one of the most revealing and informative chapters in the book, and the financial crises of George III’s reign make for uncomfortable reading bearing in mind our current troubled times. She also includes fascinating chapters on 18th century architectural design and practices , explaining the use of pattern books and the development of the design of the town house as an architectural entity in its own right, complete with is own characteristics and formulae:
The typical town house in practice was never the country house built small, but many pattern book designs for town houses seem more or less interchangeable with those for country houses of equivalent size, both in external appearance and planning….A five bay house calculated for a large family town situation could easily be taken for a modest country house with its pedimented central section and balanced disposition of rooms either side of a corridor running backwards a form the central entrance…Where authors suggest that the same design can be used for a house in town or country, this interchangeability is often questionable.
The book is wonderfully produced by Yale Publishing and illustrated beautifully, generously and very appropriately. There are enough reproductions of plans of houses to satisfy even me.
This is a readable and enjoyable book, full of interesting detail, and for those of us who have ever wondered what Darcy’s house in town looked like, reading this book will enable our speculation to have some sound basis in fact. I highly recommend it.
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.
Let’s continue our clerical theme this week, shall we? As we noted in last week’s AustenOnly post accessible here, in the BBC’s 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice two churches were used, both for the exteior shots( no interior shots were included in the production) of Hunsford parish church. In the 2o05 film version starring Keira Knightley, again two churches were used, one for the exterior and one for the interior. Today we shall concentrate on the church that provided the interior,the parish church of St Peter, Brooke, a tiny church in a tiny village near Oakham in Rutland.
St Peter, Brooke is a very special parish church, being a rare survivor. First built in the 13th century, it was virtually totally reconstructed during the latter years of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign,and most of the Elizabethan features have survived to this day- quite a feat considering the upheavals of the English Civil War and the improving hands of the Victorians.
It has been estimated that the date of reconstruction is circa 1579, but it is clear, looking at the arches in the nave that divide the south and north aisles of the church,that some of the 13th century bones of the building survived to have the Elizabethan structure built around them.
The reason why St Peter Brooke was built in this era, at a time when very little church design and building was being undertaken , was probably because its benefactor, Sir Andrew Noel, had acquired a former monastic property in the village and using that as his starting point, was building Brooke House (sadly no longer in existence) as his home. He probably used the same building team that built the house to restore the village church.
The surviving Elizabethan features are to be found in the north and south chancel arches and the wooden furnishings in the church- the box pews, benches, pulpit and the balustraded screen that separates the nave from the chancel,seen above. The low level chancel floor- only two steps higher than the nave, as you can see above – is also an Elizabethan feature. When you stand within the chancel, and the screen door is closed you are standing in a rare church device: an Elizabethan Communion Room, totally separated by the screen from the preaching area of the nave that contains the pulpit.
And it is the nave that we first see in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice, as Mr Collins’ rather bored and indeed somnolent congregation, with the honourable exception of the supportive Charlotte, is sitting listening to his sermon.
A child plays with a spinning top( a rather noisy occupation to be secret in such a small church, silly child) before Mr Collins who is preaching, badly, from the pulpit.
The Elizabethan pulpit is tiny. As you can see.
I often wonder if the diminutive actor Tom Hollander was chosen for the role because he would fit not that pulpit,and someone more in keeping with the build of the Reverend Collins as described in Jane Austen’s text, a Hugh Bonneville for example, would not have managed it:
He was a tall, heavy-looking young man of five-and-twenty. His air was grave and stately, and his manners were very formal…
As the place where Lady Catherine, Anne de Bourgh and Darcy sit
while Colonel Fitzwilliam tells Elizabeth Bennet
It is in fact an empty space, no seating normally stands there,
The most flamboyant feature in this beautifully restrained and modest church (and which was not seen in the film) is the tomb of Charles Noel, son of Andrew Noel, mentioned above, to be found in the side chapel next to the chancel
He is beautifully carved…
translates as follows:
Charles, son of Andrew Noel, brave and high
his dust inhabits here his soul the sky
Mature and Worth, Valour and Wisdom too
in this one boy strove all their gifts to show.
Worth made him duteous: Nature a comley youth.
Mars to be brave: Bright Wisdom, loving truth.
Yet even he in youth’s fair Springtime pined
As Buds will perish in a bitter wind
He died in 1619 at the age of 28 years.R.I.P.
My poor photographs do not do justice to this tiny and peaceful place. If you ever do get the change to visit, then do: the village and the surrounding countryside are perfect, though hard to access on public transport. Regular services are still held at St Peter, and it is very much a living church. I hope you have enjoyed this visit to a very special location.
Following on from the Althrop Attic Sale held at Christie’s earlier in the year, the Chatsworth Attic Sale is now confirmed to take place between the 5th and 7th October at Sotheby’s in London. Mentioned in Pride and Prejudice as a place Elizabeth Bennet visited while on her tour of Derbyshire with the Gardiners, Chatsworth is a magnificent place, homes of the Dukes of Devonshire and their families since it was built in the late 17th century,and was even the location for the exteriors and some interior shots of Pemberley House in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly.
The grand viewing of the many, many articles on sale will take place at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire betwen 1st and 4th October. Full details of the opening times, etc can be found here. Sadly, I won’t be able to get to the sale but I will be able to buy the catalogue, which you can also do by going here. Buying the catalogue gives you free admission to the viewing at Chatsworth, note.
The sale sounds stupendous: some of the items to be sold include a pair of George II simulated-stone, carved-wood brackets, circa 1735, based on a design by William Kent, estimated sale price of £20,000-30,000; forty meat and poultry covers, made from Sheffield Plate and Electroplate, dating from the 19th Century, together with an iron-bound oak plate chest, with a brass label engraved with “His Grace The Duke of Devonshire No. 1″, estimate sale price of £3,000-5,000; a ruby and diamond brooch, circa 1900, belonging to The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, estimated sale price of£80-100.
Sotheby’s press release ( full details here) gives some further details of the individual lots:
The sale will have at its core a wealth of fine, rare architectural fixtures and fittings, the existence of which had been obscured by time. Discovered beneath layers of dust, these magnificent pieces – handsomely carved fireplaces, architraves, doors and shutters – were once part of the fabric of the many great houses that have featured in the Devonshire family’s extraordinary history, including Chatsworth itself, Chiswick House, Hardwick Hall, Lismore Castle, Compton Place, Bolton Abbey and, most of all, their palatial London residence, Devonshire House, on Piccadilly – for centuries the centre of London’s social, political and cultural elite.
Devonshire House on Piccadilly, opposite Green Park, now the site of an office block, has long been of interest to me: it is shown below as it appeared in the late 19th century.
Devonshire House, Piccadilly, was the centre of London society in the 18th century – it was there that Georgiana (Duchess of Devonshire-jfw)
ran an alternative court – a hedonistic palace where fortunes and reputations were lost and won. The house contained the finest of all the family’s possessions, more than Chatsworth or any other properties of the estate; Devonshire House was a showroom through which the most influential figures of the day passed. Designed and built by William Kent in the 1730s, Devonshire House was demolished almost 200 years later in the 1920s, whereupon much of its interior, from doors and original furnishings to elegant, gilt chairs, was carefully removed to the attics of Chatsworth. A unique opportunity to re-create this “lost palace of London”, the surviving objects featured in the sale include all manner of architectural fixtures, furniture and objects of everyday life.
The sale comprises 20,000 objects in over 1,000 lots, ranging in estimated values from £20 to £200,000 .They trustees of the Chatsworth estate hope to raise what seems to me to be a rather modest sum £2.5 million from the sale.What is the betting that, like Althorp, the amount raised in total from the sale will be much, much higher?
As we discovered in this post here, Belton House in Lincolnshire was used for the setting of Rosings in the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. The interiors were also used for the interior scenes of Rosings, and they are the subject of today’s post.
I’m going to show you the interior as they appear in a tour of the house, and put them into context with stills from the series, because some of the interiors were in a slightly confusing manner, especially if you are aware of the layout of the house. Shall we proceed? On we go, then….
The first room we encounter on the house tour is the Marble Hall, the most important room on the south side of this floor of the house. We see this room in the series of shots when Darcy angrily returns to the house having been rejected by Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford Rectory, which is of course, in its turn, supposed to be near the church in the park (which we learnt about in this post, here)
This would have been the route that Darcy would have taken after coming in from the Dutch Garden via the Saloon. Here is a plan of the ground floor of Belton House
and here it is again, this time annotated with Darcy’s route.( Do click on these images to enlarge them. All will become clear soon,I promise!)
Darcy then pauses in the open doorway that connects the Marble Hall and the Staircase Hall.
Darcy begins to run up the staircase….clearly seeking the refuge of his own room…
but then pauses to talk to Colonel Fitzwilliam, who has been wondering where he has been…as has Lady Catherine
But the door by which they enter the Staircase Hall leads from the Tyrconnel Room, not the Hondecoeter Room, which is where Lady Catherine normally resides in this adaptation.
And matters begin to get even more confusing. He is next shown entering the Blue Bedroom, a room which has a marvellous example of a complex 18th century bed of amazing proportions,being over 16 feet high
This bed has only recently been re-covered and reassembled as it sadly suffered water damage a few years ago. It was most probably made by Francis Lapiere, a Huguenot craftsman who worked in England in the early 18th century,and originally may have been upholstered in crimson damask.
The burr walnut bureau cabinet, upon which Darcy wrote The Letter, is spectacular, and dates from 1715.
But despite the evidence of Darcy running upstairs…this magnificent bedroom is not on the first floor, but the ground floor.
As we can see when Darcy stops to look out of his window…..
The Blue Bedroom windows are shown above- and are clearly on the ground floor (also see the floor plan of Belton House, above)
And as the floor plan of the first floor reveals, there is no Blue Bedroom, but a Yellow Bedroom in that position on the First Floor
(Plan © National Trust)
Back to Pride and Prejudice.…..The next room used in the adaptation is back on the ground floor, the Ante Room, where Elizabeth Bennet plays the piano, to the derision of Lady Catherine
…who can be seen sitting in state, with the other guests in the Hondecoeter Room
So called because it is the setting for three vast canvases painted by Melchior d’Hondecoeter, all dominated by depictions of birds,dead and alive…something the costume designers picked up on and used as a theme for lady Catherine’s clothes,as is explained below by Barbara Leigh Hunt,who played Lady Catherine in the adaptation, as quoted in The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin:
“There were these huge paintings of birds on the wall, some live and others after they had been slaughtered in various attitudes of death. …in the later scene where I confront Elizabeth and forbid her engagement to Darcy, there in my hat is a small dead bird.
It’s a delightful witticism, I think, as well as a visual comment on the predatory mature of Lady Catherine’s world.
Sadly I couldn’t take my own photographs of the Hondecoeter Room, now set as a dining room, because of a loan exhibit there this year. So I have an excuse to go back next year….which, of course, I will ;-)
And that ends the Pride and Prejudice tour…but there is much more to be seen at Belton House.
The Chinese Bedroom was used in the BBC’s recent adaptation of Jane Eyre, as the Parisian hotel where Celine Varens betrays Rochester, and the Queen’s Bedroom, a room where one of my favourite Queen Consorts,Queen Adelaide stayed during her widowhood,
was used as the Red Room,scene of Jane’s terrifying ghostly visitation from her dead uncle.
And a wonderful kitchen
and scullery both dating from 1810,
and which excitingly are both going to be renovated very soon.
So there you have it, a tour of the interiors of Belton House as seen in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and I do hope you have enjoyed it.