The Day I Didn’t Meet My Mr Darcy!

Chatsworth House

I have a confession to make, I’m a huge Jane Austen fan! I have been for as long as I can remember, however, it’s a part of me that has never crept onto the blog before. Until now.

Last weekend my mum and I enjoyed a long weekend up in Derbyshire. The initial reason we went was to go to the Summer of Vintage Festival at Uttoxeter Racecourse, an annual event put together by the lovely Gemma of The Vintage Suitcase. There’ll be a post coming in the very near future about the event, but for now I’m going to focus on the second day of our short staycation when we headed to Chatsworth House.

Chatsworth has long been thought to be Austen’s inspiration for Mr Darcy’s very impressive house, Pemberley.  It was the setting for Pemberley in the 2005 Keira Knightly film, Pride and Prejudice and in the 2013 TV series, Death Comes To Pemberley. Colin Firth’s version was actually filmed at Lyme Park, Stockport, not Chatsworth as thought by many. And yes, I have seen all of them many, many times!

Chatsworth House Entrance Hall

We arrived slightly later than planned due to us getting completely lost and ending up the wrong side of Mansfield. However, once we did get there, it was like stepping back in time, walking in Elizabeth Bennett’s footsteps as she explored Pemberley on a spontaneous visit with her Aunt and Uncle.

The minute we stepped inside the incredibly impressive building I recognised the grand entrance hall and stairs. It featured heavily in Death Comes To Pemberley with several scenes taking place underneath the stunningly painted ceiling. It was at this point that I desperately wanted to be dressed head to foot in Regency clothing so I could take a turn of the room! I actually dream of making my own white muslin Regency dress, complete with authentic chemise, stays, petticoat, jacket and, of course, bonnet. I’m not sure I’ve quite got the right hairstyle though!

Chatsworth House Entrance Hall

Of course, I had to have my photo taken at the foot of the stairs. However, there was a huge queue of people building up behind us waiting to get up the stairs and the guy at the front started making jokes about it, saying “no pressure!”. This then set me off in fits of giggles and all three of the photos my mum took are of me cracking up. Not so demure as some of the beautiful women that would’ve passed through on their way to grand balls.

Corset bustle Chatsworth

I actually didn’t take a massive amount of photos inside the house, mainly because I wanted to enjoy looking at everything. I hate seeing people looking at the world through a camera. Just put it down and savour the moment as a memory! Sorry, rant over!

Anyway, I did take a quick snap of this gorgeous Victorian petticoat, corset and bustle. It was in a very feminine bedroom that had all sorts of clothing and hairdressing paraphernalia in it. The guide in the room saw me looking at it and came straight over. She told me that it was a replica made by the ladies upstairs in the wardrobe department. Yes, Chatsworth has it’s own wardrobe department. I WANT TO WORK THERE!!

We quickly got to talking about the fact that I made the skirt and blouse I was wearing and we had a good old chat about sewing and collecting vintage. She was particularly interested in how I did my hair and then I spotted a 1920s hair waver on the dressing table. I told her I had one just like it and that was it, we could not stop talking. We must’ve stayed in that one room for a good half an hour and completely monopolised the very knowledgable guide. I loved it!

Chatsworth House marble statue

Chatsworth House marble statue

Next it was back down the stairs and on to the Sculpture Gallery. This beautiful room was featured in the Keira Knightly Pride and Prejudice, so I was really eager to see it and it certainly lived up to my expectations. It was crammed full of gorgeous white marble statues, including the Veiled Vestal Virgin one that Elizabeth finds fascinating. It really is an incredible piece of art. Statues like this really intrigue me, I have no idea how anyone could possibly create such intricate detail just by chipping away at a slab of rock.

I loved the fact that none of the statues were roped off, meaning you could go up and actually touch them. This is so different to most other places and it actually felt quite naughty to do so. In fact, the thing I loved most about the house was that everything was very accessible. The most precious things obviously had ‘Please Do Not Touch’ signs on them, but so much was available to hold or go right up close to. Photography was also allowed throughout, even with a flash, which is so often banned in stately homes.

Mr Darcy marble bust

The Mr Darcy bust has now been very sadly relegated to the shop. It was created for the film and is a fantastic likeness to Matthew Macfadyen who played Mr Darcy. It explained this in the little plaque underneath, which finished with “Please do not kiss him!”. I’m sure they’ve probably had a lot of that.

I get the impression that Chatsworth House now has Jane Austen fatigue because it wasn’t mentioned at all until you got to the shop. It’s a shame really because it was the reason I’ve always wanted to go there.

Cecil Beaton Photographs

However, there was another exhibition to capture my attention, ‘Never a Bore: Deborah Devonshire and her set by Cecil Beaton’. Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire was the youngest of the Mitford Sisters and a prominent member of English society during the 1930s and 40s. Cecil Beaton is also my most favourite photographer, so this was right up my street and a great end to the tour through the house.

In terms of the amount of rooms we actually got to see, I would say it was about 25, which is roughly about 10% of the entire house. It really is a huge structure and so much of it remained private. However, to maintain such a place and keep it up to scratch for the public would take an extraordinary amount of money. Chatsworth is not part of the National Trust and relies solely on income from visitors, agricultural rents, on site restaurants and farm shop and many other enterprises.

Chatsworth House - The Emperor Fountain

After we finished in the house we headed out to the glorious gardens. I will be posting a separate post about those where I’ll finally talk about my outfit. It’s already featured a couple of times on the blog but I haven’t actually told you anything about it. That will be rectified very soon, I promise!

However, for now this is me, waiting patiently for my Mr Darcy to come out of the lake! Okay, so we didn’t actually see Colin Firth do this in the one that everyone goes gaga about. The scene, as I remember it, was him diving into the lake and then Elizabeth sees him walking with a wet shirt, nipples on full display! The scene below in the incredibly funny Lost in Austen, starring Elliot Cowan as Darcy, illustrates it much better. And personally Mr Cowan is much more my kind of Darcy than Colin.

However, I do have to admit that Mr Knightley from my favourite Jane Austen novel, Emma, is much more my kind of man. However, if a Mr Darcy was on offer, how could I possibly say no? 🙂

Cate

Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. Lover of all things old, lingerie obsessive, crafter and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.

29 Comments

  1. Cate have you ever visited Sudbury Hall? It’s not far from Uttoxeter and is where they filmed the inside scenes of Pemberley in the BBC series. There is a long gallery that is recognisable from the series, the white staircase and mirror in the hallway where Mr Darcy checks his reflection. It’s well worth a visit. Debbie

    • No I haven’t been to Sudbury Hall but I’ll definitely keep it in mind the next time we head up that way. I definitely want to go to the Peak District and explore a bit more, so that will go on the list. xx

    • Hehehe! Yes, my bought Austenland on DVD for me for Christmas and, despite it being very silly, I did have to watch it until the end. Lost in Austen is a billion times better. It’s funny but it’s also clever and Jemima Rooper who plays the main character is just perfect for the role. You’ll love it! xx

  2. OF COURSE they have their own costume department. Be right back, moving and trying to get a job there.
    The place is absolutely gorgeous, and I’m so happy you got to go, and shower us with lovely photos! I can’t wait to read about your outfit! <3

    • Wouldn’t it be a wonderful place to work? Could you imagine turning up there everyday to sew historic clothing? Oh, to live the dream! xx

  3. I’ve never been to Chatsworth, but it’s gorgeous, I really must go some time. Regency dress or not, you are not looking out of place at the foot of those stairs. I bet you were the best dressed visitor anyway. I’ve been in love with Cecil Beaton’s photographs ever since I visited an exhibition of his work in London in 1985 or 1986. It’s a pity Mr. Darcy didn’t make an appearance for you though! xxx

    • Oh you really should go the next time you’re in the UK, you’d love it. It really is one of the most grandest houses in the country and definitely a wonder to behold. The Cecil Beaton exhibition would’ve been right up your street too. xx

  4. One of the things I remember the most from my visit to Chatsworth (some twelve years ago now) was a painting of girls in school uniforms getting dressed for the day in one of the large bedrooms. They were surrounded by gorgeous decor but sitting on simple cot beds. They were a part of Operation Pied Piper. It really gave the tour an extra layer of history. Did you see this?

    • No, I didn’t Lexi, however I know they rotate a lot of their displays from the vast archive. It was still absolutely glorious though! xx

  5. The statues are amazing, and wow! I would love to visit Pemberley! I’m a huge Austen and Heyer fan, and I can think of nothing more fun than than taking a turn in the great hall wearing a full Regency ensemble! I can’t wait to see if you make one someday, ❤

    xox,
    bonita of Lavender & Twill

    • Oh well then you’d love it here Bonita! It’s truly an amazing place and just so incredibly huge. It’s sooooo Jane Austen and I have had to watch the Keira Knightley version all over again since! xx

  6. Debo really helped save Chatsworth, didn’t she? She was quite the driving force in getting the place to earn its keep – probably a result of the Mitfords not having been massively wealthy for their set. It’s great to know her vision and foresight paid off.

    I bet that guide was chuffed to have someone knowledgeable to talk to – must beat yet another question about Keira.

    • Yes, she really did! You can really see how she’s wanted to make it worthwhile for all the visitors. It works for itself, so much better than National Trust houses. xx

  7. LOVE Jane Austen as well, read all the books, seen all the movies. What a fantastic opportunity to go and visit this magnificent estate. So gorgeous..wow! Thanks for sharing some of the pictures.

    • Oh my word Liz, you would love it here! So much history and beauty. It’s really worth planning a trip to it if you ever come to England. xx

  8. Thoroughly awesome! I’m a huge Austen fan as well, though, likewise, have rarely had a chance to weave such into my blog. What a marvelous first foray into doing so here on yours, dear Cate. I lapped up every word and beautiful photo, and then wished I had the means to hop on a plane and come visit Chatsworth House in person, too. One day, I truly hope. For now? I’m going to reread this post – it’s too awesome not to saviour at least twice.

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

    • Oh yes Jessica, if you ever come back to the UK I will definitely join you in a trip to Chatsworth! This actually wasn’t my first mention of Austen on the blog, but I’m sure no one noticed the last one. The title of my Brighton trip post is actually a quote from Pride & Prejudice and was said by the ever excitable Mrs Bennett. xx

  9. I’m so glad you were able to go to Chatsworth, it’s an impressive place. I went when I was a teenager, long before any P&P filming. I’d love to go back and see it differently now. My parents have been to Lyme Park and say that is well worth the visit, it’s a different scale to Chatsworth but my Mum much preferred it. You look fab, no wonder you end up chatting with people about sewing and what-not wherever you go! xx

    • I think my parents have been to Lyme Park too. My favourite houses though are definitely Basildon Park and Buscot Park, which is about 3 minutes drive from my house. Basildon was Netherfield in Keira Knightley’s P&P, as well as Grantham House (the London house) in Downton, and Buscot Park has loads of Pre-Raphaelite connections, as well as having one of the most stunning gardens. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re ever up my way! xx

  10. goodmorning,buongiorno Cate,
    thanks for sharing these nice photos…the last photo feat the garden in the background is very beautiful:Your outfit is so so so Charming and breathtaking…a perfect blend of colours and accesories that make shinning Your Style….cheers!

    • Oh yes, RPJ as Wentworth is very tasty! However, it will always be Jonny lee Miller as Mr Knightley for me. xx

    • Oh, I forgot to say I went to Austen’s house at Chawton a few years ago and absolutely loved it. I just wanted to move in there and live a simple Regency life. I particularly loved the pretty bedroom, it was so peaceful. xx

  11. I really must get to visit Chatsworth soon. I have been past it on the way to Bakewell and been in the farm shop but have never made it to the house and I know I would love it. I’m glad you had such a lovely day out. The photography exhibition sounds great, I find the Mitfords very interesting. The costume department there sounds like a dream job!

    • Oh you should, you really would love it. I find the Mitfords really interesting too, especially as several of them used to come to the manor house in my village during the 1930s. In fact Nancy Mitford based Lord Merlin in her book, The Pursuit of Love, on the Lord of the manor. He was very eccentric! xx

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