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Last week I paid a long over due return visit to Stowe Landscape Gardens in Buckinghamshire, now maintained by the National Trust,but which was the home of those ever improving gardeners of the 18th century, Lord Cobham, Earl Temple and the Marquess of Buckingham,who employed only the best, Bridgeman, Vangburgh, James Gibbs, William Kent and Capability Brown,  in the making of their earthy paradise, filled with garden buildings replete with so many political allusions.

There is, believe it or not, a more or less direct link to Jane Austen from this garden and its owners, so I feel entitled to write about it on that score, but of course it is one of the most influential 18th century landscape gardens in England and we really ought to consider it on that point alone. I will be posting a full account of the garden in a few weeks time.

This week I wanted to concentrate on the ha-ha at Stowe, as it is most probably the mother of them all. The ha-ha was a sunken fence, a visually unobtrusive device to separate the livestock of the park from the ornamental pleasure gardens surrounding a great house. I have written about ha-has before, and of course they are important to Jane Austen studies as she used it as a magnificent metaphor for restraint, and forced improvement in a n unfortunate relationship in chapters 9 and 10 of Mansfield Park.

The ha-ha at Stowe has been magnificently restored over the past twenty years and is very important as it was most probably the first ha-ha in England, from which all the others including Mr Rushworth’s at Southerton have evolved.

This plan of the Stowe estate, below,  by Charles Bridgeman, executed in 1739, shows the garden proper, in the bottom left of the plan,  surrounded by an irregular pentangle shaped ha-ha:

Here is a close up of it:

To give you some idea of the scale, the garden enclosed by the ha-ha is 400 acres in area.

The ha-ha at Stowe is faced in stone,and was probably used by Lord Cobham as an allusion to the military earthwork fortifications he saw while on service during the Marlborough Wars in Europe. In his book, Temples of Delight: Stowe Landscape Gardens John Martin Robinson, clearly sets out the theory about the ha-ha and its origins:

An architect with a strong interest in  gardening, John James, had published his translation of the Parisian naturalist Dezallier D’Argenville’s ‘Theory and Practice of Gardening’ in 1712,and this had first given widespread currency to the idea of a sunken fence and helped to popularize the device in England.

(page 75)

This is the view of the ha-ha from behind the two east and west lake pavilions, looking east:

You can see the ditch,which deters any livestock in the surrounding parkland breaching the wall, thereby preventing them from getting into the garden

The stone edging is the only hint that the ditch is there when you approach it from the garden, and really does come as a surprise.Hence the term “ha-ha!”

This series of photographs, below, show the ha-ha which is the boundary to the Georgian Valley, at the opposite end of the garden:

You can clearly see the retaining wall,and the sort of pillar/gate that may have been in situ at Southerton,and which caused such trouble by being locked.

And this is a view of the magnificent stonework of the restored retaining wall

that would have been  familiar to the livestock in the park.

Characteristically, Jane Austen is sparse in her description of Barton Park,  the home of the affable Sir John and the sadly less than pleasant Lady Middleton in Sense and Sensibility:

Barton Park was about half a mile from the cottage. The ladies had passed near it in their way along the valley, but it was screened from their view at home by the projection of an hill. The house was large and handsome; and the Middletons lived in a style of equal hospitality and elegance.

Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 7

However, for many people it has been considered that Pynes, a fine William and Mary house in Devon, just outside Exeter and pictured above, was Jane Austen’s model for Barton Park, and further that she most probably visited it when she was holidaying in Devon with her family  either in 1801 and 1802.

This is my copy of the acquaint of Pynes that appeared in Ackermann’s Repository of the Arts etc.,  in February 1825;

In her book In the Steps of Jane Austen, Anne -Marie Edwards has this to say in support of her contention that Pynes was the inspiration for Barton Park:

Although there is no written evidence to support my belief I have planned this part of the walk to explore what I think is the part of the Exe valley which Jane calls Barton in Sense and Senibility….Jane always wrote about places she knew, and she must have and a specific large estate in mind. I feel sure her “Barton Park” is Pynes still, as in the novel, a “large and handsome house”. Then as now , it was the home of the Northcote family. The Dowager Countess of Iddesleigh(a title taken by the Northcotes) told me that traditionally Pynes has alwasy been linked with the novel and her view was confirmed by other local people. It seems likely that Jane and her family , while they were on holiday in Devon, were invited to stay there. They would probably have stayed at Pynes several days and Jane would have and time to enjoy some of the beautiful country walks that are undertaken by the equally energetic Elinor and Marianne in the novel. The village of “Barton” on the hill side, close to Barton Park, corresponds exactly with Upton Lyne. I tis more difficult to place “Barton Cottage: which we are told is about half a mile from Barton Park. No site seemed to me to fit all the clues given in the novel. However as I explored the area I concluded that Jane possibly imagined the cottage to be near the farm at Woodrow Barton-a suggestion that was first made to me by Mrs E .M.Cornall who lives locally….

( page 102)

This is a section from my 1812 copy of John Cary’s map of Devon which has been annotated to show the approximate situation of Upton Pyne ( indicated by the black arrow) in relation to Exeter and Crediton:

This is all very plausible, isn’t it? Save for the fact that we know that Jane Austen did indeed write about places she had never visited, and in fact the grater part of Mansfield Park is set in a county she had never visited once! However, for those of you who tend to the view that Pynes was the model for Barton Park,  then, listen! A rare opportunity presents itself, for  you now have the chance to purchase the house and 37 acres of parkland surrounding it.

The house is also currently being restored, and the current owner, Simon Robshaw, has very kindly consented to allow me to reproduce some of his photographs of the house so that you can see what it looks like today.

Situated 3 miles from the centre of Exeter, the house has six reception rooms, 10 attic rooms and a 37-acre park.

Pynes was originally the mansion for the Pynes Estate, which surrounds and protects the house principally to the north.

These views of the house show that it has not changed substantially since the Ackermann engraving at the top of this post was made nearly 200 years ago…

and the parkland is also very similar, with stunningly beautiful views of the Exe valley.

This is a view of the very grand Entrance Hall being restored…

This is the marvellous stained glass window in the Staircase Hall

Here we have a view of the Drawing Room…

and  below of the Dining Room, which does seem large enough to satisfy such a determined party giver as Sir John.

And here  is  the Billiard Room.

The house  is no for sale with Savills estate agents: go here to see. And whatever your thoughts on it being Barton Park or not, I think you have to agree it is a most pretty and desirable place to live.

First, a warning: I so enjoyed this book that I devoured it and cannot really be truly objective about it.  It is a wonderful immersion into Brown’s world, with a fascinating list of well written characters, noble or otherwise.It is a page turner and a beautiful tribute to Lancelot Brown, the creator of many wonderful country house landscapes.

Jane Brown has long been one of my favourite writers on the history of gardening and gardeners. Her books on Gertrude Jekyll ( Gardens of a Golden Afternoon) and Vita Sackville West (Vita’s Other World and Sissinghurst)  have long been in My Favourite Books pile, and so I was delighted when she turned her inquisitive eye and elegant prose to “Capability” Brown. (An epithet never applied to him during his lifetime, it ought to be noted)

Lancelot Brown was responsible for creating some of the most sublime country house landscapes made in the eighteenth century. His work, which  achieved a timeless, effortless, natural effect, was distinguished from other lesser designers by allying beauty with practicality. He incorporated every need a great house possessed into  the surrounding coherent landscape, providing forestry areas, lakes, drives and ornamental walks that abutted working fields.Ever practical as well as aware of the art of landscape, he was also known as an agricultural improver. He worked at  most of the most famous and grand estates, and his work can still be enjoyed by visitors to these estates today. In fact so ubiquitous did his work become that many are under the impression that the effect was the result of nature, not his genius. Not so, as Griff Rhys Jones recently commented,  in a BBC programme about  Chatsworth. After viewing  the Brownian landscape that surrounds the house which is so exquisite, he irreligiously and wittily noted:

This is what God would have done had he had the money

And while God didn’t have the money, Brown’s many aristocratic patrons did. One of the first was Lord Cobham at Stowe in Buckinghamshire,(shown below in an engraving from my own collection). Brown’s work and the methods he employed there are very satisfyingly described by Jane Brown in great detail. Visitors to Blenheim, Chatsworth, Harewood, Burghley,Warwick Castle, Charlecote, Lacock Abbey and Wimpole Hall to name a few, can still see his work, in the landscape that surrounds these great houses. And there are many many more examples too numerous to list here (but most are mentioned in the book)

Jane Brown tells Lancelot’s story with ease and with a vivacity that makes it  as easy to read as the very best fiction. We not only follow his career, accompanying him on his ‘circuits’ around the grand estates of England and latterly in Wales, but we also are given insights  into his happy domestic life, meeting  his family and his circle, including his son-in-law the architect Henry Holland.  My favourite  character was his devoted Lincolnshire born wife, Bridget, known  as “Biddy”,  who ,while convivial enough with their friends, such as Pitt the Elder and the actor David Garrick, refused to be patronised by the grand dames who were the wives of Brown’s aristocratic patrons.

He began life in humble circumstances as  as the son of a Northumbrian yeoman farmer  but  due to connections and advantageous commissions expertly executed he became the man who set the fashion and style of English landscape gardening, rising to become The King’s Master Gardener at Hampton Court.

My only gripe with the book is that it while it is copiously illustrated in black and white line drawing and with colour prints within the text, they are few large-scale illustrations to show exactly what effect Brown achieved. For those of us lucky enough to be familiar with his greatest creations Petworth, Blenheim, Harewood, Stowe,etc- it is not much of a problem. But for those who may not be so familiar, I think it does him a disservice. While Turner’s impressionistic view of Blenheim – the sweep from the gate at Woodstock to the house is the magnificent view shown (see below)is included – a modern photograph might have conveyed  a little more of  Brown’s legacy, an effect that now seems so “natural” it is often taken as such.

Here is a photograph of mine of Chatsworth, taken last summer,  and the stunningly beautiful Brownian landscape can clearly be seen.(Please do click on this picture to enlarge it to see in detail how beautiful this landscape truly is)

Did Jane Austen approve of Brown and his works?Probably not. Her maternal family, the Leighs, had steadfastly refused to follow the fashion for landscape gardens at Stoneleigh, given their allegiance to the Stuarts and the old anti Hanoverian order. The 18th century  was a time when adopting fashions in grand gardens was very much a matter of personal and court politics, and their refusal to update Stoneleigh until the early 19th century reflects their stance.

The title  of the book, The Omnipotent Magician is taken from a passage in Cowper’s poem, The Task, wherein he directly criticises Brown and his profession:

He speaks. The lake in front becomes a lawn,

Woods vanish, hills subside and valleys rise,

And streams,as if created for his use,

Pursue the track of his directing wand,

Sinuous or straight,now rapid and now slow,

Now murmuring soft, now roaring in cascades,

Even he bids.

As we know that Jane Austen was an admirer of Cowper and one of her heroines, Fanny Price of Mansfield Park, “her Fanny”, loved him too, and furthermore despised  “improvers”, it is probably safe to assume that she would not have been enamoured of this book or its intriguing subject. But I have been and recommend it to you wholeheartedly.

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 the magnificent main range of the house, on the south side of the courtyard.

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….


I posted a review of this book last year ,and I sadly had left it too late for you all to act on  as the hardback edition was already sold out in the UK and became sold out in the USA a few weeks later.

The good news is that it has recently been released in paperback form and is now freely available from the your local bookshop, main internet book sites and the publishers,Phillimore. I should like to thank my good friend, Rae, for this information.

As I noted in my review, linked above,  this is mainly a  gazetteer of 190 houses and villas built as country retreats around London from the 17th century onwards, and is written with great authority and verve by the distinguished architectural historian, Caroline Knight.

If you possibly can, do not miss this chance to buy this really fantastic book. As with any gazetteer it is meant to  be dipped into, not read at one sitting, and I have spent many an enjoyable evening virtually visiting  some grand houses all situated within the confines of the M25 orbital motorway.

It puts into context areas of London that are now almost totally urban in character but in Jane Austen’s era were rural places, villages separated from London by great estates like Osterley and Syon . It is a great help when reading Mansfield Park and Emma: I can thoroughly  recommend it to you. Get it while stocks last this time!

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.

My fellow blogger and most elegant and erudite correspondent,Emile de Brujin of the National Trust’s Treasure Hunt blog has recently posted some interesting articles about Lyme Park in Cheshire, a place that has dual associations with Jane Austen.

The most obvious of the two is that it was used for the exterior shots of Pemberley in the 1995 BBC TV production of Pride and Prejudice,( my pictures above of the house and the sunken garden were taken by me ona visit in 20o6 when the magnificent facade of the house was being restored) The scenes featuring the house and estate included the infamous pond where Mr Darcy took his somewhat unlikely (in my humble opinion) dip into a stagnant pond….

The second is that the house was owned by the Cheshire branch of the Leigh family from whom Jane Austen’s mother’s branch of the Leigh’s was descended. Just like a certain Elliot family of Persuasion…..

Then followed the history and rise of the ancient and respectable family, in the usual terms: how it had been first settled in Cheshire; how mentioned in Dugdale, serving the office of High Sheriff, representing a borough in three successive parliaments, exertions of loyalty, and dignity of baronet, in the first year of Charles II., with all the Marys and Elizabeths they had married; forming altogether two handsome duodecimo pages, and concluding with the arms and motto — “Principal seat, Kellynch hall, in the county of Somerset,” and Sir Walter’s hand-writing again in this finale —

“Heir presumptive, William Walter Elliot, Esq., great grandson of the second Sir Walter.”

Here for your delight  is Emile’s article on real and fictional aspects of viewing the house . Here and here are  interesting Treasure Hunt articles on the restoration fo flock wallpaper in the Library at Lyme

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.

Sue S commented ruefully yesterday on this post here, that not many ordinary people would have been able to purchase items for the Chatsworth sale due to the vastly inflated prices the lots realised. This is most probably true, but at least the National Trust bought some items on our behalf which will be put on display at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire.

Emile de Bruijn, my jolly and very interesting correspondent, informs us via his fabulous blog Treasure Hunt of the successful real Treasure Hunt he recently conducted  to bring back to the  Hall two lots that were on offer to the public at the  Sale. Go here to read his article ‘From the Attic, in full.

©NTPL/Mike Williams

And the reason the Trust bought items from the sale? Hardwick Hallmore glass than wall– the magnificent Elizabethan country house designed by Robert Smythson, and once the home of an English She-Wolf, Bess of Hardwick, was owned until the 1950s (when it was given to teh nation by Andrew the 11th Duke in lieu of death duties) by the Cavendish Family and so to have some objects once owned by the Dukes to place into the rooms there was thought to be a desirable thing. I quite agree.

(But as the Earl of Hardwick was one of Mary Queen of Scots captors during her long imprisonment in England, I am not at all certain that Jane Austen would be equally enhusiastic…..)

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.

It has a central door that opens and is similar to  bookcases commissioned by the Prince Regent. Estimated for sale £60,000-90,000 it sold for £145,250.

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.

(©National Trust)

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.

The Entrance Passage is first seen in Darcy’s recounting of The Letter to Elizabeth as she reads it. We see a strutting George Wickham there, waiting to be paid off  by Darcy…..

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…

achieved while Elizabeth was helping Georgiana to turn the pages of her music after having been “attacked ” by Miss Bingley on the subject of the militia.

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.

I thought you might like to take a look at the e-catalogues for the Chatsworth and Ashdown Attic sales, both houses having connections to Jane Austen as I explained in my posts here (Chatsworth) and here (Ashdown),  and which are now available to view online at the Sotheby’s website.

The Chatsworth e-catalogue is available here

and the Ashdown House e-catalogue is available here.

There has been tremendous press interest in the Chatsworth sale recently;  it has been featured in magazines, newspapers and TV news programmes. The sale will take place next week and I promise to broadcast some of the results here.

Be warned, you can lose many, many hours on-line gazing at the marvellous and varied contents. My imaginary bid list is getting longer by the day…

I thought you all might enjoy seeing this video about the items on at Chatsworth…Go here to view it.

Ashdown House is an exquisite 17th century house, situate in Berkshire, not far from the border of Berkshire with Oxfordshire. The house was designed for William, 1st Earl of Craven, most possibly by the Dutch-born architect Capt William Winde, in 1663. The Earl of Craven had  intended it to be used by  the object of his admiration, Elizabeth of Bohemia-  The Winter Queen– who was the then impoverished sister of King Charles I,  He knew of her desire to live in quiet in England, after living for many years in exile at the Hague in Holland. Sadly, it was not to be and before the house was completed Elizabeth died suddenly in February 1662, while visiting her nephew King Charles II in London.

The Craven family lived in Ashdown House until it was donated to the National Trust by Cornelia, Countess of Craven in 1956. The public has restricted access to the house: namely to the magnificent staircase which runs the height of the building and is rather like a magnificent picture gallery, and then up onto the leads and cupola from which spectacular views of the surrounding Berkshire countryside can be viewed. The rest of the house is leased from the National Trust,and recently the lease has changed hands, and has been sold to the musician, Pete Townsend of The Who. The contents of the house assembled by its old tenant are to be sold by Sotheby’s in another attic sale, to be held at their Bond Street premises on the 27th October this year.

So why should this interest us? Merely  because  Jane Austen’s family had some albeit distant contact with this chap.  Lord Craven(the 1st Earl of the second creation) was a kinsman and patron of the Fowle family of Kintbury: and it was on the ill-fated expedition to the West Indies in 1795, when he accompanied Lord Craven as his chaplain, that Tom Fowle, Cassandra Austen’s then fiance, tragically died.  Lord Craven also was a source of gossip for the neighbourhood, and this is evident in Jane Austen’s letter to Cassandra Austen of the 8th January, 1801:

Eliza has seen Lord Craven at Barton & probably by this time at Kintbury, where he was expected for one day this week.- She found his manners very pleasing indeed.- The little flaw of having a Mistress now living with him at Ashdown Park seems tobe the ony unpleasing circumstance about him…

At this time, by my calculations, Lord Craven,was involved with the very famous courtesan, Harriette Wilson.

She does not mention living with him at Ashdown Park in her memoirs  but what she does say about him is calculatedly cutting and rather dismissive:

I shall not say why and how I became, at the age of fifteen, the mistress of the Earl of Craven. Whether it was love, or the severity of my father, the depravity of my own heart, or the winning arts of the noble Lord, which induced me to leave my paternal roof and place myself under his protection, does not now much signify: or if it does, I am not in the humour to gratify curiosity in this matter…

I resided on the Marine Parade, at Brighton; and I remember that Lord Craven used to draw cocoa trees, and his fellows, as he called them, on the best vellum paper, for my amusement. Here stood the enemy, he would say; and here, my love, are my fellows: there the cocoa trees, etc. It was, in fact, a dead bore. All these cocoa trees and fellows, at past eleven o’clock at night, could have no peculiar interest for a child like myself; so lately in the habit of retiring early to rest. One night, I recollect, I fell asleep; and, as I often dream, I said, yawning, and half awake, “Oh, Lord! oh, Lord! Craven has got me into the West Indies again.” In short, I soon found that I had made a bad speculation by going from my father to Lord Craven. I was even more afraid of the latter than I had been of the former; not that there was any particular harm in the man, beyond his cocoa trees; but we never suited nor understood each other.

See: The Memoirs of Harriette Wilson Written by Herself, Volume 1, Chapter 1, Page 5).

Harriette was born on 22nd February 1786: she would therefore have been 15 years old in 1801. So it was most probably her to whom Jane Austen alluded in her letter, residing in immoral splendour at Ashdown Park. Lord Craven of course knew much about cocoa trees , I should imagine, as he had had first hand experience of them. He had visited the West Indies, as we know, in 1795 as Colonel to the 3rd Foot Regiment- The Buffs. He was sent to the islands as part of the convoy commanded by Admiral Hugh Christian escorting General Sir Ralph Abercromby’s 19,00 strong force to subdue French interference in the islands. Poor Lord Craven was obviously explaining to the bored Harriette of his battles on the islands She, a little like Lydia Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, seems only to have heard and understood one word in ten of his conversations. And  she wasn’t bored for long: she soon ran away from Lord Craven’s delights and his tales of cocoa trees to the protection of Frederick Lamb (1782-1853), later 3rd Viscount Melbourne.

Happily, Lord Craven eventually found his soul-mate:

In 1805 Lord Craven saw Louisa Brunton (?1785-186o), daughter of John Brunton (a greengrocer turned actor and theatre manager in Norwich), and now making a name for herself as a Shakespearean actress at Drury Lane-her principal parts included Celia in As You Like It, Anne Boleyn in Henry VIII, and Lady Anne in Richard III… Fanny Kemble’s mother remembered Louisa Brunton as ‘a very eccentric as well as attractive and charming woman, who contrived, too, to be a very charming actress, in spite of a prosaical dislike to her business, which used to take the peculiar and rather alarming turn of suddenly, in the midst of a scene, saying aside to her fellow-actors, “What nonsense all this is! Suppose we don’t go on with it.” This singular expostulation my mother said she always expected to see followed up by the sudden exit of her lively companion, in the middle of her part. Miss Brunton, however, had self-command enough to go on acting till she became Countess of Craven, and left off the nonsense of the stage for the earnestness of high life.”Miss Brunton, at the beginning of December 1807, with characteristic modesty, made her final curtsey on the stage’- and married Lord Craven in December his town house in London. Later gossip-writers recalled her as ‘tall and commanding and of the most perfect symmetry, and her face the perfection of sweetness and expression’.

(See  Jane Austen’s Letters, edited by Deirdre Le Faye,  page 512)

And this woman is the same Lady Craven whose opinion of Emma was collected by Jane Austen  in 1816.  She admired Emma very much, but did not think it equal to P&P. Don’t you find it interesting to think of the many characters who lived at Ashdown Park, in that beautiful House…I know I do, and I’m sure yet again the allure of such a house and its associations will add to the pieces of the lots of this sale. Time will tell and I’ll report back after the sale takes place on October 27.

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 Boughton Estate)

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.

Today I’ve added some pages to the sister site to AustenOnly, A Jane Austen Gazetteer. Do click on the links below to explore them….

Goodnestone, Kent

Rowling, Kent

Winchester College, Hampshire


The Vyne, Hampshire.

There will be more additions in the very near future, to tie in with a new site I’ve been planning about Jane Austen’s Letters, and I hope to be able to announce the grand opening(!) very soon. I’ll keep you all posted…

The catalogue to the Chatsworth Attic sale ,which I wrote about previously here, and which is to be held at Sothebys in London on the 5th -7th October landed on my doormat with a satisfyingly heavy thump yesterday. And while I have only had  time to scan through its 512 pages(!), I thought you might like to see what I think are some of the more unusual items for sale. The scholarly catalogue is organised Duke by Duke time wise and my favourite items all hail from the times of the 5th Duke, husband to the famous Georgiana, and of the era of his son,The Bachelor Duke. Items from the now demolished  Devonshire House, the Cavendish family’s London mansion and Chiswick House are included in the sale and it will be an architectural antique dealers paradise, so many great architectural pieces included, having been saved from the houses when remodelling or demolition took place.

First,a lot to outrage Marianne Dashwood:  Lot 347, a George III mahogany, ebony and boxwood strung satinwood banded piano, which has been adapted to serve as a writing desk. Can you imagine the horror! Id quite like it,however…. It was made by the London piano makers, Broderip Wilkinson of 13 The Haymarket , and dates between1798-1807. it was included in the Chatsworth Inventory of 1818. There is also a Broadwood square piano circa 1815, Lot 568…. was it a gift from Frank Churchill?…No, it was brought by the 6th Duke and is estimated at £2000-3000.

Lot 365 is a delicious George III ebonised and parcel gilt work table circa 1800,probably owned by the Countess of Burlington at her home in Compton Place, Eastbourne. Estimate £500-1000. Below is a selection of lots of object of virtu-I  covet Lot 451, the seed pearl brooch in the shape of a lyre, circa 1820 which has an estimate of £250-350.

Lot 301 is a miraculous survivor: a collection of 14 18th century turned oak canon ramrods. Nine have their original canvas bags which protect the sheepskin covered heads,and four have wrought iron sprial finials.Estimate £2,000 to £3,000. I would love to bid for these for my military history obsessed husband….

Lot 303 is a set of eight triangular wooden carriage stops(essential in the hilly surroundings of the Peak  where Chatsworth is set).Estimate £30-50.

More quirky objects can be found in the ceramics that are for sale. Lot 765 is a collection of seven rare English creamware Bourdaloues, two marked “Wedgwood”. These were used by ladies in the 18th century to relieve themselves when in church  or at the theatre. Named rather unkindly after the French Jesuit preacher Louis Boudaloue who gave long interminable sermons. These are estimated at £400-600

This trout head stirrup cup made by the Derby porcelain factory is delicious and dates from 1800. It has an estimate of £800-£1200

If I coud buy something,then I’d like these: early 19th century theatre lights used, one presumes, in the Bachelor Duke’s theatre at Chatsworth. I adore them.

I’m sorry, I just lied to you. Barefacedly. Forgive me. What I’d really like from the sale is this magnificent sleigh, with wrought iron runners and upholstered in leather which was acquired by the 6th Duke possibly when he was ambassador to Russia in  1817 .It is only estimated at £20o0 -£3000

Im sure the Mitford, Cavendish,Chatsworth associations are, as in the Althrop sale, going to make these estimates look exceeding low…when the auction takes place I’ll report back to you.

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