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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.

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.

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

(Plan ©National Trust)

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.

Which you can see below. And this is where matters begin to get confusing…

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:

(Photograph ©NatinalTrustPL/Mark Feinnes)

“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.

I’m visiting Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire next week, once the home of the Vernon family and now administered by the National Trust ( Not gadding again? I hear you say, probably in an exasperated manner: I know Dear Reader, I know, but I do love doing it and at least I can share the experience with you!) Sudbury is of interest to us here as it was used  for the interior shots of Pemberley House for the BBC’s 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice. A most fitting choice, in my opinion, and I will elaborate on this next week…when I return from gadding… however… back to the point of this post…..

I thought you might care to read about the famed decorator, John Fowler, and his work undertaken at Sudbury Hall in this intriguing blog post linked here. The debate about the authenticity of his work,and his choice of colour is fascinating (and is why the photographs I am using here are in black and white!)

The effects might not be seen as truly authentic now, but having stayed in old country houses where he has worked, I can confirm that his work was always very carefully considered and beautifully executed. Personally, I’ve always admired the colour schemes at Sudbury….

Enjoy!

This is truly one of London’s hidden treasures.

I first visited it when I lived in London during the 1980s. I had a meeting in the road where it was located, found it unexpectedly,and after the meeting treated myself to a tour.

It’s raison d’être is to record and comment on middle class English interiors and gardens from 1600 to the present day. The Museum is named after Sir Robert Geffrye, who was once a Lord Mayor of London,  and is set in almshouses which were built in 1714 at the bequest of Sir Robert.

I’ve been back many, many times since and I thought you might like to share aspects of its website which almost make up for any inability to visit in person.

Here is a link to its Period Rooms Virtual Tour And here is a link to its wonderful panoramas:the one of the 1790s parlour is perhaps the most relevant to us. I can see Charlotte Collins nee Lucas adopting this bright but elegant colour scheme in her backwards facing room…as opposed to Mr Collins’ book room which looked out onto the road affording many a view of the de Bourgh’s carriages ;-)

Here is a link to its Vitual Tour of the Period Gardens,an aspect of the past that is often overlooked by museums.

I highly recommend a visit in person if possible, if not then do explore this wonderful website for a really good flavour of what the museum has to offer.

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