Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Haddon Hall, Derbyshire, a contender for Pemberley?


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.

3 comments:

Vic said...

As always I am pea green with envy that you are able to visit these beautiful places so easily. Thank you for sharing your adventures!

Jane Odiwe said...

I absolutely loved this house - I was very taken with the story of Dorothy Vernon's elopement, you may imagine!

Jane Odiwe said...

I absolutely loved this house - I was very taken with the story of Dorothy Vernon's elopement, you may imagine!