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Archive for April, 2009

When walking around Chatsworth there is so much to see that it’s difficult to know where to look first. In the painted hall alone which is the first major space you encounter there are statues and paintings galore all vying for your attention. Most incredible is the painted ceiling showing the apotheosis of Julius Caesar as a demi-god, which tends to overshadow everything else. They do provide mirrors to hold so that you don’t have to get a crick in your neck! I’m always fascinated by these ceiling paintings in great houses and wonder what it must have been like for the poor artists who worked on them day in and day out – a truly remarkable feat. The photo to the left shows the painted ceiling above the Great Stairs which are also shown in this post. High up on the walls are coloured paintings in the style of Verrio’s ceiling. There are three sculpted figures by Caius Gabriel Cibber brought in from the garden in 1692 and busts placed in the niches. There are also grisaille panels painted on the walls lower down to resemble sculpture. The ceiling shows the Goddess of Earth, Cybele, in her chariot, with figures in two corners representing the four continents.


Wood carving features prominently in the State Dining Room – this photo shows the work of Samuel Watson and Lobb, Young and Davis, the team of carvers from London engaged by the first Duke. Remember to look up when walking around Chatsworth because there is always some incredible sight to see.
Finally, I know I’m always talking about food on my blog, but I had to show you the meringue I had in the restaurant. I felt very naughty eating all that sugar and cream, but we were just about to go outside and walk it all off in the gardens!

I had to include this extract from Pride and Prejudice – Lizzy is looking round Pemberley and the housekeeper points out two portrait paintings – miniatures of two gentlemen she knows very well.

On applying to see the place, they were admitted into the hall; and Elizabeth, as they waited for the housekeeper, had leisure to wonder at her being where she was.

The housekeeper came; a respectable-looking elderly woman, much less fine, and more civil, than she had any notion of finding her. They followed her into the dining-parlour. It was a large, well-proportioned room, handsomely fitted up. Elizabeth, after slightly surveying it, went to a window to enjoy its prospect. The hill, crowned with wood, from which they had descended, receiving increased abruptness from the distance, was a beautiful object. Every disposition of the ground was good; and she looked on the whole scene – the river, the trees scattered on its banks, and the winding of the valley, as far as she could trace it – with delight. As they passed into other rooms these objects were taking different positions; but from every window there were beauties to be seen. The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of their proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less of splendor, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings.

“And of this place,” thought she, “I might have been mistress! With these rooms I might now have been familiarly acquainted! Instead of viewing them as a stranger, I might have rejoiced in them as my own, and welcomed to them as visitors my uncle and aunt. But no” – recollecting herself – “that could never be: my uncle and aunt would have been lost to me; I should not have been allowed to invite them.”

This was a lucky recollection – it saved her from something like regret.

She longed to inquire of the housekeeper whether her master were really absent, but had not courage for it. At length, however, the question was asked by her uncle; and she turned away with alarm, while Mrs. Reynolds replied, that he was, adding, “But we expect him tomorrow, with a large party of friends.” How rejoiced was Elizabeth that their own journey had not by any circumstance been delayed a day!

Her aunt now called her to look at a picture. She approached and saw the likeness of Mr. Wickham suspended, amongst several other miniatures, over the mantlepiece. Her aunt asked her, smilingly, how she liked it. The housekeeper came forward, and told them it was the picture of a young gentleman, the son of her late master’s steward, who had been brought up by him at his own expence. “He is now gone into the army,” she added; “but I am afraid he has turned out very wild.”

Mrs. Gardiner looked at her niece with a smile, but Elizabeth could not return it.

“And that,” said Mrs. Reynolds, pointing to another of the miniatures, “is my master – and very like him. It was drawn at the same time as the other – about eight years ago.”

“I have heard much of your master’s fine person,” said Mrs. Gardiner, looking at the picture; “it is a handsome face. But, Lizzy, you can tell us whether it is like or not.”

Mrs. Reynolds’s respect for Elizabeth seemed to increase on this intimation of her knowing her master.

“Does that young lady know Mr. Darcy?”

Elizabeth coloured, and said – “A little.”

“And do not you think him a very handsome gentleman, ma’am?”

“Yes, very handsome.”

“I am sure I know none so handsome; but in the gallery up stairs you will see a finer, larger picture of him than this. This room was my late master’s favourite room, and these miniatures are just as they used to be then. He was very fond of them.”

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When walking around Chatsworth there is so much to see that it’s difficult to know where to look first. In the painted hall alone which is the first major space you encounter there are statues and paintings galore all vying for your attention. Most incredible is the painted ceiling showing the apotheosis of Julius Caesar as a demi-god, which tends to overshadow everything else. They do provide mirrors to hold so that you don’t have to get a crick in your neck! I’m always fascinated by these ceiling paintings in great houses and wonder what it must have been like for the poor artists who worked on them day in and day out – a truly remarkable feat. The photo to the left shows the painted ceiling above the Great Stairs which are also shown in this post. High up on the walls are coloured paintings in the style of Verrio’s ceiling. There are three sculpted figures by Caius Gabriel Cibber brought in from the garden in 1692 and busts placed in the niches. There are also grisaille panels painted on the walls lower down to resemble sculpture. The ceiling shows the Goddess of Earth, Cybele, in her chariot, with figures in two corners representing the four continents.


Wood carving features prominently in the State Dining Room – this photo shows the work of Samuel Watson and Lobb, Young and Davis, the team of carvers from London engaged by the first Duke. Remember to look up when walking around Chatsworth because there is always some incredible sight to see.
Finally, I know I’m always talking about food on my blog, but I had to show you the meringue I had in the restaurant. I felt very naughty eating all that sugar and cream, but we were just about to go outside and walk it all off in the gardens!

I had to include this extract from Pride and Prejudice – Lizzy is looking round Pemberley and the housekeeper points out two portrait paintings – miniatures of two gentlemen she knows very well.

On applying to see the place, they were admitted into the hall; and Elizabeth, as they waited for the housekeeper, had leisure to wonder at her being where she was.

The housekeeper came; a respectable-looking elderly woman, much less fine, and more civil, than she had any notion of finding her. They followed her into the dining-parlour. It was a large, well-proportioned room, handsomely fitted up. Elizabeth, after slightly surveying it, went to a window to enjoy its prospect. The hill, crowned with wood, from which they had descended, receiving increased abruptness from the distance, was a beautiful object. Every disposition of the ground was good; and she looked on the whole scene – the river, the trees scattered on its banks, and the winding of the valley, as far as she could trace it – with delight. As they passed into other rooms these objects were taking different positions; but from every window there were beauties to be seen. The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of their proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less of splendor, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings.

“And of this place,” thought she, “I might have been mistress! With these rooms I might now have been familiarly acquainted! Instead of viewing them as a stranger, I might have rejoiced in them as my own, and welcomed to them as visitors my uncle and aunt. But no” – recollecting herself – “that could never be: my uncle and aunt would have been lost to me; I should not have been allowed to invite them.”

This was a lucky recollection – it saved her from something like regret.

She longed to inquire of the housekeeper whether her master were really absent, but had not courage for it. At length, however, the question was asked by her uncle; and she turned away with alarm, while Mrs. Reynolds replied, that he was, adding, “But we expect him tomorrow, with a large party of friends.” How rejoiced was Elizabeth that their own journey had not by any circumstance been delayed a day!

Her aunt now called her to look at a picture. She approached and saw the likeness of Mr. Wickham suspended, amongst several other miniatures, over the mantlepiece. Her aunt asked her, smilingly, how she liked it. The housekeeper came forward, and told them it was the picture of a young gentleman, the son of her late master’s steward, who had been brought up by him at his own expence. “He is now gone into the army,” she added; “but I am afraid he has turned out very wild.”

Mrs. Gardiner looked at her niece with a smile, but Elizabeth could not return it.

“And that,” said Mrs. Reynolds, pointing to another of the miniatures, “is my master – and very like him. It was drawn at the same time as the other – about eight years ago.”

“I have heard much of your master’s fine person,” said Mrs. Gardiner, looking at the picture; “it is a handsome face. But, Lizzy, you can tell us whether it is like or not.”

Mrs. Reynolds’s respect for Elizabeth seemed to increase on this intimation of her knowing her master.

“Does that young lady know Mr. Darcy?”

Elizabeth coloured, and said – “A little.”

“And do not you think him a very handsome gentleman, ma’am?”

“Yes, very handsome.”

“I am sure I know none so handsome; but in the gallery up stairs you will see a finer, larger picture of him than this. This room was my late master’s favourite room, and these miniatures are just as they used to be then. He was very fond of them.”

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I’ve just received the cover from my editor at Sourcebooks for my new book Willoughby’s Return. I am absolutely thrilled, I think it’s gorgeous! Thank you to the designers who have worked on it, you’ve done a wonderful job, I don’t know how I shall manage to wait until November to hold a copy in my hands!
There’s more information about this book, Lydia Bennet’s Story and Effusions of Fancy on my website with extracts and some of my paintings.

Read Full Post »

I’ve just received the cover from my editor at Sourcebooks for my new book Willoughby’s Return. I am absolutely thrilled, I think it’s gorgeous! Thank you to the designers who have worked on it, you’ve done a wonderful job, I don’t know how I shall manage to wait until November to hold a copy in my hands!
There’s more information about this book, Lydia Bennet’s Story and Effusions of Fancy on my website with extracts and some of my paintings.

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I thought you might like to see some of the photos I took at Chatsworth of the exhibition they have on about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. As well as personal items and letters there are costumes from the film ‘The Duchess’ which stars Keira Knightley as Georgiana, Ralph Fiennes as the Duke and Dominic Cooper who we’ve seen before as Mr Willoughby playing Georgiana’s lover, Charles Grey. I thought the costumes in this film were particularly fabulous – the designer Michael O’Connor did a wonderful job! They had a little section about the filming of Pride and Prejudice with some photographs and the bust of Mr Darcy is also displayed – the nearest I got to finding him, I’m afraid. Still, best of all I got to see my husband don a wig in their dressing up room which is really fun. You can try on wigs and costumes whatever your age – I think he looks rather gorgeous in it!




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I thought you might like to see some of the photos I took at Chatsworth of the exhibition they have on about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. As well as personal items and letters there are costumes from the film ‘The Duchess’ which stars Keira Knightley as Georgiana, Ralph Fiennes as the Duke and Dominic Cooper who we’ve seen before as Mr Willoughby playing Georgiana’s lover, Charles Grey. I thought the costumes in this film were particularly fabulous – the designer Michael O’Connor did a wonderful job! They had a little section about the filming of Pride and Prejudice with some photographs and the bust of Mr Darcy is also displayed – the nearest I got to finding him, I’m afraid. Still, best of all I got to see my husband don a wig in their dressing up room which is really fun. You can try on wigs and costumes whatever your age – I think he looks rather gorgeous in it!




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It’s always an exciting moment when an author sees her new ‘baby’ go up on Amazon. The cover isn’t there yet but I know the wonderful designers at Sourcebooks are on the case! Willoughby’s Return is a sequel to Sense and Sensibility which is one of my favourite Austen novels. I’ve always wondered what might have happened to the Dashwood sisters after their marriages, and in particular how Marianne might have fared. In Sense and Sensibility Marianne has her heart broken by Mr Willoughby, her first love, but later finds true and lasting love with Colonel Brandon. Mrs Brandon is a passionate woman who gives her heart freely and I’m sure has found her equal in Colonel Brandon who despite his grave exterior has enough qualities and interests to satisfy his new wife – he is not only rich and gentlemanly, but he has proved his love for Marianne and he loves music and poetry as much as she! Elinor Dashwood, Marianne’s sister, is also at hand having married Edward Ferrars who has become the new rector at Delaford Parsonage on the Brandon’s estate in Dorset.
A happy ending for all concerned then? Of course, if you love to write Jane Austen sequels then a happy ending is guaranteed, there could be no alternative, but I had several questions about the Brandons that I needed to satisfy which is one of the reasons I had such fun writing this book. Although the Brandons have found happiness at last, I think their pasts are bound to catch up with them one way or another. Characters like Mr Willoughby, Marianne’s first love, and Eliza Williams, the daughter of Brandon’s ward are re-introduced into my book, Willoughby’s Return, a tale of almost irresistible temptation. Margaret Dashwood, the youngest daughter is of an age to be going to balls and looking for partners and her story weaves in and out of the others. I really enjoyed writing Mrs Jennings’s character and the Steele sisters. Lucy Steele is of course married now to Robert Ferrars. There is more information on my website as well as an extract from my new book which will be released in November.

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