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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.

Chapter 30.

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.

Have you ever wondered what the great State Bed of Stoneleigh Abbey looked like, especially after reading Mrs. Austen’s atmospheric description of it contained  in her letter to her daughter in law, Mary Austen, wife of James? She wrote the letter during her stay at Stoneleigh( along with Jane and Cassandra) in the summer of 1806,and the letter  is dated Wednesday, August 13th 1806:

On the left hand of the hall is the best drawing room, within that a smaller; these rooms are rather gloomy brown wainscoat and dark crimson furniture; so we never use them but to walk thro’ them to the old picture gallery. Behind the smaller drawing room is the state bed chamber, with a high dark crimson velvet bed: an alarming apartment just fit for a heroine; the old gallery opens into it; behind the hall & parlours is a passage all across the house containing 3 staircases & two small back parlours.

I adore the way Mrs Austen  lets her fancy run away with her, imagining Gothic Horrors of the Catherine Morland variety for the occupant of the great bed in the

rather alarming apartment

That bed  no longer exists, so we are left to our own imagining. Would it look like this terrific creation, newly restored and returned to its original home at Boughton House, the Northamptonshire home of the Duke of Buccleuch?

Or this one, used as Mr Darcy’s bed at Pemberley in the BBC’s1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and which can still be found  at Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire, and is very stately as it was used by Queen Adelaide?

It certainly would not have resembled this one- used for Queen Victoria’s visit to Stoneleigh in 1858.

This room was not the State Bedchamber at Stoneleigh to which Mrs Austen referred: it was then the breakfast parlour and was frequently used by the party at Stoneleigh it was the only one of the rooms which afforded  wonderful views  down to the River Avon:

…on the right hand the dining parlour, within [that is, beyond the dining parlour-jfw] that the breakfast room, where we generally sit, and reason good ’tis the only room (except the chapel) that looks towards the river.

It may however have resembled one of these:

Queen Caroline’s State Bed of 1715 or this, below, the Raynham Hall State Bed which was acquired for Hampton Court Palace in 1993

And it has to be admitted that it  looks very similar, in construction, to the bed in the Blue Bedroom at Belton House, used also as Mr Darcy’s bed at Rosings in the BBC’s 1995 adaptation:

Both of these beds  -Queen Caroline’s and the Raynham bed- are written about in minute detail in  the book I am reviewing today, State Bed and Thorne Canopies: Care and Conservation by Val Davies (which to be honest could have been alternatively titled: Everything You Have Ever Wanted to Know about State Beds But Were Afraid to Ask).

I do realise that recommending this book might be a step too far for some of you. It is a very,VERY detailed and specialised book about the care and conversation of state beds and throne canopies -which are all installed at Hampton Court Palace or Kensington Palace. More of a care manual than anything else.  And of course not many of us have to care for these objects on a daily basis….But if you have ever seen one of these magnificent constructions and wondered how they are put together, how the sculpted head-boards covered with damasks, passementerie and feather are created, how the curtains and tassels are preserved and cleaned, then this book is for you.

Val Davies the author, worked in the Textile Conservation Studio at Hampton Court Palace for 20 years, and while there learnt how to care for the magnificent structures. And also how to restore them after  the fire at Hampton Court in 1986 damaged some of them in a rather desperate way.  The excellent text is clear, and the illustrations (particularly the line drawings in the glossary section) allow you to understand exactly how these beds were designed, made, dismantled and installed in the palaces.

A short history of the role of state beds in country homes and palaces is included but the majority of the book explains, example by example, and step by step, how the seven state beds and three throne canopies are made and how they can be preserved for the future. The photographs (which could have been a little larger-this is my only gripe about the book) are beautiful. And sometimes give you glimpse of the bed that only the occupant would have seen, as below, where we are shown a view of the inside of the tester in Queen Charlotte’s State Bed, which dates from 1772-78.

The factual basis to the fairy tale of The Princess and the Pea is finally revealed, with the revelation that many, many mattresses are used in these stately beds. This photograph from the book shows the four mattresses that  make up the sleeping area of Queen Charlotte’s State Bed.

Bed bugs ( a common complaint of the late 18th /early 19th century housewife if the evidence of the remedies to deter them in my cookery books of this era is any thing by which to judge) are also dealt with. We learn that the Royal Household in 1814 employed one Mr Tiffin as

“Bug Destroyer to his Majesty and her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales.”

That does take the gilt off the gingerbread slightly doesn’t it? Ah, well…To conclude, this is a very different book from the norm, but a fascinating one and one I would recommend to any of you who have been entranced by these magnificent constructions still to be found in many an English country house today. Reading it will allow you to indulge your fancy and envisage which of these amazing beds the State Bed of Stoneleigh Abbey would have resembled.

For the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, two churches were used to portray Mr Collins’ church- a “tradition” that continued in the 2005 film adaptation starring Keira Knightley ( more on that later). The church used predominantly for Mr Collins parish church at Hunsford was the parish church St Peter and St Paul at Belton (shown above).

The location for the building used as the rectory at Hunsford was another rectory in Rutland some 20 miles away from Belton in Lincolnshire in the tiny village of Teigh near Oakham. (Much more on this later too!) Therefore the exterior shots of the Hunsford Rectory show the parish church of The Holy Trinity, Teigh not Mr Collins’ church in Belton.

Luckily, its tower  looks very similar to the tower of the church at Belton, and is shown fleetingly so that only geeks like me can easily tell the difference. But it does help to confirm the feeling that Mr Collin’s home is very close to Rosings, as is demonstrated in the text of Pride and Prejudice:

“The garden in which stands my humble abode, is separated only by a lane from Rosings Park, her ladyship’s residence.”

The church used mostly in the adaptation is the parish church for Belton village, the estate village that nestles close to the park and grounds of Belton House. It is shown during the scenes of the reading of Mr Collins letter of reconciliation to Mr Bennet.

We do not see the interior of the church in the adaptation, but are shown a good view of the exterior of the church,

Then Lady Catherine leaving after morning service


And Mr Collins attending her….bowing and scraping…..

The unctuous fool…..

Not forgetting to pay delicate attentions to Miss De Bourgh…..for the ladies like them, you know…..

And proudly giving thanks for  all the blessings that Lady Catherine, his most noble patroness,

has bestowed upon him as the party of Lady Catherine Anne  and Mrs Jenkinson make their way back along the path towards Rosings

( Belton).

If you visit Belton House you can access the church, if it is open, via the route that Lady Catherine and her party took. The church is not owned by the National Trust, being a working Anglican parish church.

When the gate from the park is open, you can gain access to it,and it is normally open from mid March to the end of October , Wednesdays to Sundays between the hours of 10.30 a.m till 5.30 p.m.

The church was originally built in the 13th century. The bottom part of the tower dates from this era, and the top of the tower  from 1638.

The interior of the church was not used in the adaptation but it ought not to be missed as it is stunning, though tiny. The chancel, above,  was renovated by Alice, Lady Brownlow who died in 1721,aged 62 and this is her monument in the nave.

The Church is, of course, closely associated with the Tyrconnel, Cust  and Brownlow families who all owned Belton at one point or other during the past four centuries and it contains may stunning memorials to various family members.

The  most outstanding of these is this monument to Sophia, Lady Brownlow nee Hume, who died in 1814 aged 26 and after only 4 years of marriage. It was beautifully executed in the neo-classical style by the esteemed sculptor, Antonio Canova.

The chapel that houses her monument was commissioned by her grieving husband and designed by the architect Jeffrey Wyattville.

Next in this series, the interiors used in Belton House.

Belton House has become rather popular as a film location in the past few years. It was used in the  recent BBC TV adaptation of Jane Eyre starring Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson- as Mrs Reed’s house and Celine Varens’ Parisian hotel -and of course was used by the BBC as Rosings for their 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.  Both exteriors and interiors were used, together with the local parish church, and so I will separate this subject into three posts, so as not to over burden you all at once.

Today, I will deal with the exteriors. But first we ought to consider a little  of Belton’s history. It is now a National Trust property but for 300 years it was the home of the Brownlow and then the Cust families, influential Lincolnshire landowners whose families intermarried with the Dukes of Ancaster at Grimsthorpe and the Cecils of Burghley House.

As you can clearly see from the style of the house, -its south front is shown above-it was built in the late 17th century, between 1684 and 1688. It was commissioned by “Young” Sir John Brownlow, seen here as he appears in his portrait which still hangs in the formal saloon of the house.

For years legend had it that the house was designed by Sir Christopher Wren but this is now thought to be false,and that the real architect of the house is more likely to have been a contemporary of Sir Christopher, the soldier, architect and member of the Royal Society, William Winde.

This all, of course,  makes it totally unsuitable to appear in the adaptation as Rosings, which was described in Pride and Prejudice as appearing from Mr Collins’ garden as follows:

But of all the views which his garden, or which the country or the kingdom could boast, none were to be compared with the prospect of Rosings, afforded by an opening in the trees that bordered the park nearly opposite the front of his house. It was a handsome modern building, well situated on rising ground.

At the time Jane Austen was writing First Impressions (1795) or revising what became  Pride and Prejudice, published in 1813, it is clear that  a house built in the 1680s would not have been considered as being at all modern;-).

Still,it made logistical sense to film  at Belton as the majority of the location filming of the series was undertaken throughout the midlands area of England-ranging from Great Sherston in Wiltshire in the west, to Belton in the east, Lyme Park (Pemberley exteriors)in the north and to Lacock ( Meryton) in the south, according to the map included in the book The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwhistle and Susie Conklin.

We first see the north front of Belton House as it is being approached by  the clearly terrified Sir William and  Maria Lucas, a sanguine Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Collins(nee Lucas)and a fretfully boastful Mr Collins.

The garden on the north front ,known as the Dutch garden, which the group pass through on their way to meet Lady Catherine and her daughter,has undergone a few changes over the last few years since the filming took place.

The planting in the garden is essentially the same but the yew trees which were getting out of control have ,as you can see, been cut back severely. New growth has covered the stumped that remained, and  they are now about half the size they once were,but it was a shock to the system when this necessary but seemingly brutal garden maintenance took place a few years ago.

This is the famous limestone sundial that the group pass as they walk towards Rosings. It inspired the children’s book, The Moondial by Helen Cresswell. Viscount Tyrconnell bought it for the garden at Belton, and it was carved by the Danish master carver,Caius Gabriel Cibber who was sculptor in ordinary to William III and who worked on St Paul’s Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace and Chatsworth House.

The north front is also the scene of Darcy’s hasty retreat after his first proposal of marriage has been rejected by a furious Elizabeth Bennet.

We are shown the west front of the house as he angrily strides back to his aunt’s house ….

…up the steps leading to the entrance to the saloon…

Here is a short video of the scene from the north front of the house looking over the Dutch Garden:

Some of the most lovely shots of the countryside around Belton, complete with hanging woods, are seen in the scenes where Elizabeth Bennet wanders around the grounds and groves at Rosings.

The ground to the east of the house gradually rises to the Belmount Tower, along an avenue of what was once elm trees and are now Turkey oaks.This building  cannot now be accessed though the grounds  and park of Belton House but it was once very much part of it. A deep ha-h separates it from the Belton  grounds, and to gain access to it now you have to go  via a road leading from Belton village.

Here it is, with obligingly picturesque deer in the foreground. The tower was built between 1749 and 1751 by William Grey and Samuel Smith. Originally it was flanked by two lower arches but these were removed in the late 18th century. The tower was used as a focal point for the eastern avenue of elms, as seen from the house, and as a high vantage point from which the Belton estate could be viewed.  Jane Austen’s distant kinswoman by marriage, Caroline Lybbe Powys, visited Belton in 1757, and while she was dismissive of the house seemed to have been impressed by Belmount, or Belle Mount as she called it:

In the evening we went  to Belton House, the seat of Lady Cust. Tis nothing more than a good family house. Two things relative to it we were desired to remember viz that the original of sash windows was at the erecting of this edifice in Charles I’s time: the second that from a temple in the garden called Belle Mount you may see seven counties at once, a thing from one spot thought very remarkable…

It is towards this tower that Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam walk, when he informs Elizabeth of Darcy’s dreadful interference in Bingley’sromantic affairs, thereby ending Jane Bennet’s hopes of marrying him. Badly done, Darcy.

As you can see, the  east front of the house is plainly visible in this shot and it is toward the east front that the couple return after Elizabeth suddenly developes a “political”  headache.

This high ground is also the point used for the scene where Darcy presents Elizabeth with The Letter,

and where she reads the first part of it…..

The parts of the Belton grounds that were not used in the adaptation, the deer park to the south and east of the house,

the Italian Sunken Garden

and the Jeffrey Wyatville  designed conservatory dating from 1810

compete with tender plants…

and goldfish filled pond and statuary

are worthwhile visiting in themselves. As are the interiors of the house and the parish church of Belton village which both featured in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice and will be the next subjects of posts in this series about Jane Austen film and television locations.

I do hope you have enjoyed this jaunt around the Belton exteriors, and have been able to place them in the scenes from the BBC’s last adaptation of  Pride and Prejudice.

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