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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.

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