VISITING LYME PARK

by Victoria Hinshaw

Lyme Park, Cheshire

Just before the 2017 Country House Tour began, Kristine Hughes Patrone, Sandra Mettler, Delle Jacobs and I met up at our hotel and made a visit to Lyme Park, which became an icon for lovers of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice when it was used for the exterior shots of Pemberley in the BBC-Colin Firth-Jennifer Ehle version of Pride and Prejudice produced in 1995.

From the 1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice film

The famous wet shirt scene

Below, the film inspired souvenirs in the gift shop — mugs, tea towels, chocolates, and the DVD among other treasures.

In the Gift Shop
Coffee or Tea?

The view as we entered did not look like the one above which overlooks the lawns and park. Where were the columns, I wondered?

The north facade looks somewhat like the Elizabethan house it once was, with Georgian additions such as sash windows, etc.

This photo, from Wikipedia, gives a better view of the north facade, which is described in the guidebook as “the exuberant Elizabethan frontispiece executed for Sir Piers Legh VII in about 1570…” There have been about thirteen or fourteen Sir Piers or Sir Peter Leghs in the family’s five-century ownership of the property.

The very sober Courtyard Entrance

The Courtyard was completed in the early 17th century by Sir Peter IX to the designs of Giacomo Leoni in the Palladian style. On the courtyard sign, we found our instructions.

So we popped into the ticket office and showed our Royal Oak passes before proceeding into the house. Of course we knew that the Pride and Prejudice 1995 interiors were shot at Sudbury Hall, and thus the Lyme Park rooms were entirely new to us. Only exterior shots of Lyme Park were used in that version.

In the Entrance Hall, Leoni remodeled the original Great Hall but retained evidence of the house’s antiquity.

In addition, Mortlake tapestries from the Hero and Leander series, C. 1625, adorn the walls; the room was used as a ballroom from time to time.

The Library, in the two photos below, is one of those places we want to spend a few days perusing the many shelves of books.

Oh to be let loose on those shelves!

The Dining room was added in 1814 by Thomas Legh in an addition designed by architect Lewis Wyatt on the east front.

The table setting is Edwardian, c. 1908.

The Yellow Bedroom was furnished in the early 18th century, with the elegant bed contrasting with the colorful Flemish tapestries on three walls.

In the adjacent dressing room, we found an exquisite grey silk Regency-era pelisse.

The Saloon sits behind the memorable portico on the South Facade.  As the principal receiving room, it is paneled in oak and boasts a fine walnut harpsichord by John Hitchcock of London, from the mid 1760’s.

The Grand Staircase was designed by Leoni in the early 18th century. At the top is a portrait of Thomas Legh (1792-1857) an avid traveler in his Nubian (Egyptian) dress, painted c. 1820 by William Bradley.

The typically Elizabethan-era Long Gallery, above, on the first floor, was designed for exercise on inclement days and as an all purpose room for family activities, such as amateur theatricals, as well as being a picture gallery.

In the second decade of the 19th century, architect Lewis Wyatt designed the Orangery and its colorful terrace.

The Dutch garden should be viewed from above, for which it is magnificently designed.

And from the Dutch Garden, you can clearly see that famous Pemberley facade from the film.

Lyme Park was full of surprises. We expected it to be a classic Palladian house, precisely the modern structure Jane Austen described as Pemberley. Instead, we found everything from remnants of its origin as a medieval hunting lodge through myriad design styles to the eclectic combination of today. Yet it all seems of a piece, fittingly so.

 

Would you like to visit some of England’s finest stately homes? Number One London has another Country House Tour set for May 2019 – complete details here.

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