Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Falling in love with Darcy's Derbyshire - my guest post with Darcyholic Diversions

Darcyholic Diversions is celebrating its birthday with a fantastic giveaway!  A free kindle loaded with lots of ebooks!  Click here to enter.

I am honoured to have been asked to be a part of the celebrations and to add Charlotte - Pride & Prejudice Continues to the prizes.  I also was asked to write a post, you can click here to go to their site or scroll down and read it here.

Falling in love with Darcy's Derbyshire!

On the face of it, Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is about the five Bennet sisters and their prospects (or lack thereof) with regards to getting married.  Enter two eligible and not to mention rather handsome strangers and it’s a free-for-all with Mrs Bennet, their mother, leading the fray.  Well, not quite.  Jane showed us what was going on in society in her day and how ‘getting married’ was done.  I am sure Mrs Bennet is based on more than one mother that Jane personally knew and that she took delight in writing such a fun character.  We look upon her now and laugh, but I am certain I would not have liked to have a mother like her!  Jane showed us the social etiquette of courting and marrying in Regency England and that falling in love really wasn’t necessary at all, in fact, it was often a hindrance.  She also shone the spotlight on how ridiculous it all really was.  I am sure she had been pushed into many a social setting just like those in her books, with a view to getting her married off too.

However, it was while visiting Derbyshire, England herself that Jane Austen penned her most famous novel Pride & Prejudice.  In it, she tells us that love matters not a jot in her society, only money, titles and estates.  What was it about this beautiful county that inspired her?

Jane was staying in Bakewell when inspiration hit and her quill began to scratch away on the paper and the story of the Bennet family was born.  Bakewell is in the Peak district and has been a market town since 1330, but was mentioned in the 1085 Domes day book as ‘Badequella’ meaning bath-well.  It is most famous these days for its puddings that we now call Bakewell tarts.  If you haven’t tried one, you simply must.  I am sure Jane did.  Austen scholars also believe that Bakewell was the inspiration for Lambton.  However, it was the village of Longnor near Buxton (famous for its spring water), which was used in the 1995 BBC version of Pride & Prejudice.

One cannot visit Derbyshire without visiting Chatsworth house the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.  And it is this wonderfully grand house, which is thought to have been the inspiration for Pemberley.  Jane wrote, “The eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of the valley into which the road into some abruptness wound.”
 “It was a large, handsome, stone building standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance.  Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned."

In the 1995 version, Sudbury Hall was used for the interior shots of Pemberley.  It’s definitely a place to add to the list of Darcy-related places to visit.  The exterior shots, as I am sure you know, were of Lyme Hall, which although technically in Cheshire, stands between Buxton and Stockport.  Mr Darcy and Elizabeth strolled through the 1,400-acre park enjoying superb views of the Peak District, something all Darcyholics want to do too.

It’s all too easy to get wrapped up and lost in time in these wonderful homes and gardens, but when visiting Darcy’s Derbyshire, don’t forget to wander in the Peaks as I am sure Jane also did.

One place I would also recommend, and I am sure Jane would have visited too, are the Blue-john mines.   Blue-john stone is from the French Bleu-Jaune, meaning blue and yellow.  The stones are beautiful as are the caves and well worth taking time out of your stately home tour to see, and the shop is a great place to buy unusual souvenirs and presents to take home.  Visiting Bakewell, Chatsworth, Matlock, Dove Dale, Lyme Hall and the Peaks, you would not only be following in the steps of Elizabeth, the Gardiners and Jane Austen herself, but it would be a dream tour of Darcy’s Derbyshire!

Karen Aminadra is the author of the award-winning Charlotte – Pride& Prejudice Continues available through all stockists and Amazon.