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Posts Tagged ‘Mr Darcy’

I love making these trailers – it’s just a short one, but I couldn’t resist, and the snowstorm features in my book! Mr Darcy’s Christmas Calendar is now up on Amazon and available for pre-order. There’ll be a launch party on November 4th on Austen Variations with lots of prizes! Please join me for some chocolate goodies and more!

I’ll be on Austen Variations on Wednesday October 29th with chapter two – if you’d like to read chapter one, please click hereI hope you enjoy it.

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As promised, a very small extract from my new book, Mr Darcy’s Secret!

They were soon off again relieved to know that their destination was not far off. Little over an hour passed before they found themselves winding through an undulating road over low promontories and spacious bays, which gradually rose over the hills. From here Elizabeth grasped Fitzwilliam’s arm in excitement as Winandermere like a majestic river swept along in gentle beauty, the shores and hills as richly wooded as a pleasure ground. Here and there the land opened up through the landscape to the sight of some distant villa, a sign that society had even found its way to this remote corner of England. The weather was showery with sudden bursts of sunshine, the tops of distant mountains concealed in vapour ascending in grey columns. Hues of blue and purple enveloped the tops of hills, whilst lower down shades of olive and brown ranged over craggy heathland and wooded slopes, which appeared to fall into the water like soft, green velvet cushions.

Bellingham Hall came into view at last glimpsed through trees on a gentle eminence of the shore with the silver lake spreading before in all its translucent splendour, crowned beyond by the fells half obscured in clouds. An Elizabethan mansion built around a medieval tower sat in state like a Tudor queen with her richly embroidered skirts displayed on either side in folds of green gardens, both formal and wild, studded with the gold of daffodils. Imposing, but on a much smaller scale than Pemberley, Elizabeth knew immediately that she would feel at home here amongst the Jacobean furniture, the smell of polished oak and the magnificence of Spanish leather adorning the walls embossed with pomegranates, flowers and exotic birds. There seemed to be an endless confusion of winding passages, unexpected rooms, and at least two courtyards to navigate, as well as a breathtakingly beautiful Chinese drawing room hand-painted with peonies and butterflies.
Mrs Reynolds and some of her staff had arrived from Pemberley a couple of days before to ensure that everything was ready for the parties arriving. The house felt warm and comfortable with fires lit in the grates and bowlfuls of flowers filling the air with the scent of spring. In their bedchamber Elizabeth exclaimed with excitement at all she could see within the house and without.

“Are you happy, Mrs Darcy?” Fitzwilliam enquired, catching hold of her as she moved about the room looking into cupboards and drawers as animated as ever and showing no signs of fatigue from her journey.

Her expression told him all he needed to know as she allowed him to sweep her into his arms. The strength of his touch was most comforting and she allowed herself to sink into his embrace.

I’ve missed a little out here because it will give away too much of the plot – but here is how this little scene ends!

“I was just thinking how lucky I am to have a husband who brings me to witness the quiet delights of Westmorland instead of taking me to town. I am so very grateful to you, my darling; I could not have enjoyed myself half so much with all of London society, however diverting. To be here on our own, and with those we love is heaven, indeed. And to add to all of this, we have such beauty before us in every outlook.”
The views through their windows made her catch her breath with wonder. Veils of white mist hung over the lake and on the mountains yonder where the peaks iced with snow almost disappeared into the vapour. The rain had stopped and the day was turning fine; wisps of blue sky lit up by shafts of sunlight descending through the clouds were reflected in the water like an ethereal looking glass.

“I cannot wait to explore everywhere,” said Elizabeth. “Is it not a beautiful sight, Mr Darcy?”

“Indeed, I have rarely seen such beauty,” answered her husband, gazing into her eyes and planting another kiss on her lips.

“I am talking of the view,” she protested half-heartedly with a laugh as he pulled her yet closer.

“Oh, so am I, Mrs Darcy, so am I.”

The top picture is a print of Winandermere about 1810 – now known as Windermere, it is no longer such a quiet retreat as the Darcy’s would have known.
The photo is a view from a bedroom at Brantwood, John Ruskin’s house, overlooking Coniston Water.

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I’m at the editing stage of my latest work in progress. Surely this has to be the most trying and difficult part of writing a book. It’s when I feel I’m completely on my own – and I feel a little bit lonely. I start to read it through, feel quite pleased with how it’s all going, and then the doubts start to creep in. That part doesn’t feel quite right – I remember when I was writing it that I thought I’d written something memorable, but no, it’s reading like a pile of pants as my youngest might say. OK, I think that’s better – then the next chapter doesn’t seem to work. Lizzy, would you really have said that? And Darcy, have I painted you a little too grave? Time for a coffee, I think, and didn’t I promise to phone someone? I waste an hour or two with important jobs that I convince myself couldn’t possibly be done at any other time before I sit down to work again. I’m in a ruthless mood! I start slashing away cutting out large chunks of text, hours of work that once seemed so right. There’s something wrong with the timeline and I suddenly realise that one event couldn’t possibly have happened. What I thought was careful planning and plotting has gone completely awry! This is when I start to write lists going over and over my notes and wondering how I’m going to resolve everything. It’s all going so horribly wrong. Back to the typescript – oh yes, I like this part, I’m happy, not even a pen mark on the next twenty pages. And, I wouldn’t admit it to everybody, but I actually laugh out loud at that bit – yes, I’m on a roll!!! Reward myself with a fat bar of chocolate. So the first hurdles were just a blip, I think, until I come to a bit of sticky re-writing that I just don’t want to do. Hold my head in my hands. The sun’s over the yard arm – a glass of wine will help, I’m positive – mmm, yes, lovely, things definitely don’t seem quite as bad now. I’ve done it at last, I’m satisfied it says what I want, but then, is it now too long? Could I cut it back a little? I’m reading again, nearly there, just another fifty pages and I’m finished – well, before I bring it out and start all over again!

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As they walked across the lawn towards the river, Elizabeth turned back to look again; her uncle and aunt stopped also: and while the former was conjecturing as to the date of the building, the owner of it himself suddenly came forward from the road which led behind it to the stables. They were within twenty yards of each other, and so abrupt was his appearance that it was impossible to avoid his sight. Their eyes instantly met, and the cheeks of each were overspread with the deepest blush. He absolutely started, and for a moment seemed immoveable from surprise; but shortly recovering himself, advanced towards the party, and spoke to Elizabeth, if not in terms of perfect composure, at least of perfect civility.

She had instinctively turned away; but, stopping on his approach, received his compliments with an embarrassment impossible to be overcome. Had his first appearance, or his resemblance to the picture they had just been examining, been insufficient to assure the other two that they now saw Mr. Darcy, the gardener’s expression of surprise, on beholding his master, must immediately have told it. They stood a little aloof while he was talking to their niece, who, astonished and confused, scarcely dared lift her eyes to his face, and knew not what answer she returned to his civil enquiries after her family. Amazed at the alteration in his manner since they last parted, every sentence that he uttered was increasing her embarrassment; and every idea of the impropriety of her being found there recurring to her mind, the few minutes in which they continued together were some of the most uncomfortable of her life. Nor did he seem much more at ease: when he spoke, his accent had none of its usual sedateness; and he repeated his enquiries as to the time of her having left Longbourn, and of her stay in Derbyshire, so often, and in so hurried a way, as plainly spoke the distraction of his thoughts.

At length every idea seemed to fail him; and, after standing a few moments without saying a word, he suddenly recollected himself, and took leave.

Pemberley was not a modern house judging from the sentence above taken from Pride and Prejudice or Mr and Mrs Gardiner would not be trying to guess the age of the house. We have already learned that the house has a long gallery where Elizabeth delights in seeing a portrait of Mr Darcy so it seems likely that the building has its origins in Elizabethan or Jacobean architecture.

The picture-gallery, and two or three of the principal bedrooms, were all that remained to be shewn. In the former were many good paintings; but Elizabeth knew nothing of the art; and from such as had been already visible below, she had willingly turned to look at some drawings of Miss Darcy’s in crayons, whose subjects were usually more interesting, and also more intelligible.

In the gallery there were many family portraits, but they could have little to fix the attention of a stranger. Elizabeth walked on in quest of the only face whose features would be known to her. At last it arrested her – and she beheld a striking resemblance of Mr. Darcy, with such a smile over the face as she remembered to have sometimes seen when he looked at her. She stood several minutes before the picture in earnest contemplation, and returned to it again before they quitted the gallery.
I think the last time I visited Haddon Hall I was a little girl and I had only dim recollections. It is a beautiful example of a manor house dating from the 12th century, but one which feels distinctly Elizabethan. I couldn’t quite imagine the Darcys here – there are no later additions to the house after 1700, and in fact the house lay dormant from that time until 1920 when the 9th Duke and Duchess of Rutland restored the house and gardens. But if Jane Austen did visit Derbyshire might she have seen Haddon Hall ( it is a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground,) and imagined Elizabeth and Darcy living there – we’ll never really know! Haddon Hall was used for some of the scenes in the latest adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, notably the chapel and the dining room.

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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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We were very lucky to be staying in Beeley because it is a short walk to Chatsworth. We set off across fields and over a bridge finding the river on the other side and following it all the way. It was a lovely sunny day when we first did the walk and signs of spring appearing in green shoots on the trees and primroses and daffodils in the hedgerows really lifted our spirits.
This extract fromDerbyshire UK website gives us some information about the river on which Chatsworth sits. The River Derwent, some 50 odd miles in length, is the longest river in Derbyshire. Apart from its short passage through the City of Derby it is a completely rural river, finally joining the River Trent just south of Derby. The Derwent’s source is at Swain’s Greave on Howden Moor on the flank of Bleaklow Hill.

The river Derwent soon flows into the first of 3 large reservoirs, built in the early part of the 20th century to satisfy the growing demand for water from the expanding cities of Derby, Nottingham, Sheffield and Leicester. Howden was the first to be built ( 1901-12 ), Derwent followed ( 1902-16 ) and work then began on the largest, Ladybower, in 1935. It took 10 years to complete Ladybower and the historic villages of Derwent and Ashopton were lost in the process. A whole village was created to house the men and their families who had built the early dams, which was colloquially known as ‘Tin Town’ because of it’s corrugated roofs. Its official name was Birchinlee and it housed over 1000 inhabitants at one time.

At Mythorn Bridge, the river Derwent is joined by the river Noe which rises on Mam Tor and flows through the Hope Valley. Flowing on between Win Hill and Lose Hill, the Derwent is soon augumented by waters from Crowden, Grinds Brooks and Jaggers Clough. The river flows on to Hathersage and then turns south again to flow in a wide valley flanked by gritstone edges through the villages of Grindleford, Froggatt and Calver before reaching Baslow. At Calver it flows beneath an 18th century bridge. Calver Mill was first built in 1785, utilizing the power of the Derwent, but destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1805 when it became a thriving cotton mill employing a large number of local people. It finished producing cotton in 1923 and has had a number of uses since then, including the role of Colditz Castle in the television series, Colditz. It has now been developed into modern flats.

In Baslow at Bridge End, the river Derwent is spanned by a charming, 17th century, 3 arched bridge, beside which is a little stone shelter built for the toll collector. The river Derwent then flows through the grounds of Chatsworth Park, the home of the Duke of Devonshire, in a beautifully landscaped setting, to be joined by the River Wye at Rowsley, coming in from Bakewell.


Chatsworth is mentioned by name in Pride and Prejudice, but whether Jane ever visited Chatsworth or the Peak District we do not know for sure. Jane was familiar with a certain number of great houses already and I’m sure she used her imagination to conjure up Pemberley. As much as we like to think we might be able to find Pemberley House in Derbyshire I think it far more likely that Mr Darcy’s abode was invented from many influences and experiences. Here’s a short extract from Pride and Prejudice.

The time fixed for the beginning of their northern tour was now fast approaching, and a fortnight only was wanting of it, when a letter arrived from Mrs. Gardiner, which at once delayed its commencement and curtailed its extent. Mr. Gardiner would be prevented by business from setting out till a fortnight later in July, and must be in London again within a month; and as that left too short a period for them to go so far, and see so much as they had proposed, or at least to see it with the leisure and comfort they had built on, they were obliged to give up the Lakes, and substitute a more contracted tour, and, according to the present plan, were to go no farther northward than Derbyshire. In that county there was enough to be seen to occupy the chief of their three weeks; and to Mrs. Gardiner it had a peculiarly strong attraction. The town where she had formerly passed some years of her life, and where they were now to spend a few days, was probably as great an object of her curiosity as all the celebrated beauties of Matlock, Chatsworth, Dovedale, or the Peak.

Elizabeth was excessively disappointed; she had set her heart on seeing the Lakes, and still thought there might have been time enough. But it was her business to be satisfied – and certainly her temper to be happy; and all was soon right again.

With the mention of Derbyshire there were many ideas connected. It was impossible for her to see the word without thinking of Pemberley and its owner. “But surely,” said she, “I may enter his county with impunity, and rob it of a few petrified spars without his perceiving me.”

I think it’s interesting that Jane did not want to write a description of Derbyshire in this next extract – perhaps she felt she did not know the area well enough to write about it – the place she writes about is Lambton which is her invention. Again, some people have suggested that she was thinking of Bakewell here, but there is no firm evidence that Jane ever stayed in Bakewell, even though my sister and I enjoyed staying there some years ago and stood looking out from the Rutland Arms Hotel with thoughts of the fact that Jane might have once stood there herself! Here’s the extract from Pride and Prejudice where Jane first mentions Lambton.

It is not the object of this work to give a description of Derbyshire, nor of any of the remarkable places through which their route thither lay: Oxford, Blenheim, Warwick, Kenelworth, Birmingham, etc., are sufficiently known. A small part of Derbyshire is all the present concern. To the little town of Lambton, the scene of Mrs. Gardiner’s former residence, and where she had lately learned that some acquaintance still remained, they bent their steps, after having seen all the principal wonders of the country; and within five miles of Lambton, Elizabeth found from her aunt that Pemberley was situated. It was not in their direct road, nor more than a mile or two out of it. In talking over their route the evening before, Mrs. Gardiner expressed an inclination to see the place again. Mr. Gardiner declared his willingness, and Elizabeth was applied to for her approbation.

“My love, should not you like to see a place of which you have heard so much?” said her aunt; “A place, too, with which so many of your acquaintance are connected. Wickham passed all his youth there, you know.”

Elizabeth was distressed. She felt that she had no business at Pemberley, and was obliged to assume a disinclination for seeing it. She must own that she was tired of great houses; after going over so many, she really had no pleasure in fine carpets or satin curtains.

So it would seem that Elizabeth may well have visited Chatsworth and some of the other houses like Blenheim or the castles at Warwick and Kenilworth. Whether Jane Austen did is another matter but I’m sure she would have done her research and read about houses and their grounds in the area. Perhaps she was inspired by these descriptions or by stories from other family members who had visited them.
Chatsworth is presently undergoing a huge restoration project so it is difficult to take photos without seeing some of this taking place. It is lovely to know that the house will be preserved for future generations who, like me, have found inspiration within its walls and beyond.

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I’ve been to Derbyshire for a few days on a research trip – (that’s my excuse anyway) with my lovely sister, her husband and my own. Derbyshire, of course, is home to Mr Darcy at Pemberley, and I wanted to see the landscape through Elizabeth Bennet’s eyes if that was possible and to see if I could find Pemberley. I’ve tried to do this before and have never really found anywhere I thought fitted exactly what I imagine to be Elizabeth and Darcy’s home, but wandering around places like Chatsworth and Haddon Hall is always a delight and very inspiring for my writing. I did see Mr Darcy – sort of – but I’ll tell you about that later.
As I travelled through the Peak District it was easy to see why people still flock to this area for the splendid scenery and vast landscapes which are stunningly beautiful. On our first day we arrived at Beeley where we were going to stay in the Devonshire Arms which is still a part of the Chatsworth Estate and within walking distance of the great house itself. Everyone we encountered was so friendly and the warm reception from the staff made our visit such a pleasure.
Here’s an extract from Discover Derbyshire and the Peak District about the village of Beeley.

Beeley is a pretty, unspoilt village sheltered by Beeley Moor with wonderful views in all directions.

But things could have been very different. The old road to Chatsworth used to go through the heart of the village. It left by Pig Lane, so named because of a group of pigsties by the side of the road and crossing James Paine’s, Single Arch Bridge. Before the completion of the bridge in 1761, traffic crossed Mill Bridge, near the old ruined mill buildings in Chatsworth Park. Fortunately for Beeley, it has had a bypass for over a hundred years, effectively shutting out all the hustle and bustle of the Chatsworth traffic hurrying along the winding road. Most motorists hardly give the village a passing glance, which even to this day remains quiet, peaceful and relatively undiscovered.

It was only after the third Duke of Devonshire had bought Beeley Hill Top in 1747 that his successor embarked upon a grand plan to develop and landscape Chatsworth. Beeley then started to become part of the estate. Land and buildings were purchased as they came on the market, but this task took some time and was completed by the sixth Duke. Many of the properties have been sold off into private ownership in recent years as they became surplus to requirements.

Beeley had acquired its present shape and size by 1800. With the exception of a small group of properties built in recent years on the Chesterfield Road, it has remained remarkably unchanged for over 200 years. The same does not apply to the use of the buildings: the school, schoolhouse, post office and reading room are all now private houses. Dukes Barn built in 1791, to house the estate carts used to carry coal from Rowsley Station, is now a residential study centre, and available for hire by any educational group.

What makes the village so beautiful is that almost all the farm and domestic buildings are built from the same honey coloured sandstone, quarried locally close to Fallinge Edge. The local stone quarries once gave employment to a large number of men. The two quarries at Bruntwood produced stone not only of good appearance, but also of such hardwearing quality that it was used in many of the principal buildings in Manchester.

Many travel books featuring the Peak District do not mention the village, but do refer to Beeley Moor. On the heather clad moor, some 1,200 feet above sea level, are over 30 pre-historic barrows and cairns. Hob Hurst’s House is an unusual Bronze Age Barrow that attracts most attention. A small ring of five stones stands on a mound surrounded by a rectangular bank and ditch. When the barrow was excavated in 1853, scorched human bones were found and two pieces of lead ore. Various legends have sprung up including one that refers to ‘Hob’ as a kindly goblin who made his home in this barrow and gave assistance to the local community.

The delightful Beeley Brook enhances the village scene as it babbles its way cheerfully alongside the road, past the Devonshire Arms to a meeting with the River Derwent.

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