REMEMBERING HESTER DAVENPORT

How many times has Hester Davenport’s name passed my lips since we lost her on  September 23rd, 2013 – five years ago? Too many to count, as we at Number One London have so many memories of our beloved friend, sharing them often. If we’re not speaking of Hester amongst ourselves – Kristine, Victoria and Jo Manning – we’re sharing stories of Hester with other friends and acquaintances. She is never far from our hearts.

Victoria, here. I find it difficult to express my sense of loss at the news of Hester’s passing. We will miss her terribly. Wherever she is, I am sure she is organizing everything with her gentle touch and genial good humor.

Kristine and I (and Kristine’s daughter Brooke) thrust ourselves upon Hester one day in June, 2010, full of excitement for our upcoming trip to see the reenactment at the 195th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.  She had invited us to spend the day with her at Windsor, but little were we prepared for the depth of her welcome and her plans for our visit.  We started at the Windsor Guildhall, where she showed us around the upper floors. Then we went into the lower level where the archives were in the process of being moved to make way for the new museum that Hester masterminded.

Hester thoroughly charmed and surprised us by showing us the accounts of the news of the Waterloo victory as they were received and celebrated, as reported in the Windsor and Eton Express.  The original newspapers had been bookmarked for us and there probably had never been two more thrilled readers of the Windsor Gazette than Kristine and I were.

We read about how and when the news was received and the celebratory plans for the royal family and the community.  It was such a thoughtful thing for Hester to do, and greatly added to our enjoyment of our Waterloo visit.  After giving us the latest 195-year-old news, Hester asked us if we’d like to go see the Queen.
That is a QUESTION???  We jumped at the chance.  Off we hiked to the drive from the Castle up the long walk toward Ascot.  Hester told us that the royals went most of the way in autos then changed to open carriages to enter the race course.  A small group had gathered to await the parade of black limos, and we had a glimpse of Herself as she passed by.
 We went on to lunch in a quaint cobbled street-café, all the while chattering a mile a minute, telling each other about various projects underway, observing the locals and tourists, and basking in Hester’s erudite presence.  Of course we talked about the royals, Waterloo, the new Museum about to be created in the Guildhall, then on to persons of interest to all of us, celebrities such as Mary Robinson,  Fanny Burney, Mrs. Delaney, Dr. Johnson, and Queen Victoria (and Prince Albert).  Exactly the kind of celebrity small talk everyone enjoys, right? Well, at least those of us who indulge in the fantasy of  living in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Eventually we moseyed off to the Castle and did the tour.  We were certain Hester had walked that route a million times but she gallantly assured us she loved it every time.  Every step of the way, she told us  “inside” stories, all about the fire in 1992 and what was restored.  And how!

 

On other visits to Windsor, Hester showed us all around the new museum, where she had also welcomed Her Majesty (see below).  She always had the most interesting details to impart without in any way taking credit for all the things she had accomplished.  As head of Dr. Johnson’s House, as an excellent biographer, and as the head of the Frances Burney Society (in addition to many other endeavors and awards), Hester had a role in the most esteemed of British scholarly organizations. But she always had time to chat with amateurs like us.  So we will greatly miss a wonderful friend and favorite companion. All our best to her dear husband, Tony, gardener extraordinaire, and to their daughters.  RIP, Hester.

Victoira at the Guildhall Museum
Kristine here, still unable to process the fact that Hester is gone. Hester and Windsor will forever be linked in my heart. So many memories and so many good times, most arranged by Hester, who was a respected historian, accomplished writer and also very funny. Below is a photo taken by Victoria of Hester and I looking at the grave of Mary Robinson in Windsor, which Hester tended faithfully.
You won’t believe me, but on several occasions Hester related the funniest stories about Mary’s grave to Jo, Victoria and myself. I think my favorite was the time that Hester was showing a group Mary’s grave and while she was giving her talk, became distracted by the fact that Mary’s grave boasted several fresh sprays of flowers. Who could have left them? Where had they come from? It wasn’t till she’d finished that Hester realized she’d taken the group to the wrong grave.

I remember the email we received from Hester telling us that she was doing a truly daring thing – bidding on an original print of Rowlandson’s Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, above. A broker would be phoning in her bids during the live auction. We girls kept our fingers crossed across the pond and were dead chuffed to learn that Hester had submitted the winning bid. Next time I was over, of course I saw the print up close and in person. What a treat.

Hester always good naturedly carried out my commissions with patience, like the time I mailed her a twenty pound note and asked her to buy me the Oyster card issued to commemorate the wedding of William and Kate, which she purchased at Windsor station and mailed to me. (I’m still using it)

Hester was instrumental in the founding of the Guildhall Museum and was appointed to welcome Her Majesty and take her around the exhibits when the Museum first opened.

Of course, the Guildhall figures largely in my memories of Hester. And the Queen. Hester and the Queen – could anything be more perfect?

As most of you know, Hubby and I recently spent two fabulous days with Hester when we were over in January. Firstly, Hester drove us to Oatlands, now a hotel, but once the home of Frederica, Duchess of York. The three of us had tea and then Hester helped me to search the grounds and find Freddy’s pet cemetery. Below is a photo of Hubby, Hester and some guy they picked up at Hampton Court, where we went afterwards. Next day, Hester and I toured the kitchens at Windsor Castle together, had lunch and took a stroll by the river.

Hester was to have spoken to our group when Victoria and I go over to Windsor in September 2014 for the Wellington Tour.  How everyone in our group would have enjoyed meeting Hester – and how much fun we’d have had.

I am convinced that Hester is now spending her days in a well appointed drawing room with the likes of Brummell, Fanny Burney, Mrs. Fitzherbert, the Duke of Wellington and the Duchess of York. I only pray that she’s keeping my seat warm.

From Jo Manning

The last time I saw my dear friend and colleague Hester Davenport was when I waved goodbye to her as she drove back to Old Windsor after dropping me off at the railroad station in Windsor. It had been a glorious day, but all days with Hester were glorious, despite the often mercurial English weather.

We’d had tea and pastries – the biscuits a culinary treat – in the back garden with her husband Tony, enjoying the spring flowers and exquisite green swathe of lawn. I was sorry to have to leave, as I always was, because good company is rare anywhere in the world and theirs was sublime.

 

Hester, after her long and arduous string of medical treatments, looked so well! And she was chipper,  too, looking forward to her next adventures in writing and editing. She was skilled in both, such a talent. Her prose was smooth and readable, eminently so.

 

We “met” online in 2005, when my publisher forwarded to me Hester’s comments on the biography I wrote on the 18th-century courtesan and memoirist Grace Dalrymple Elliott. It’s a small world:  Hester had recently completed a well-researched, beautifully-written biography of Grace Elliott’s rival in love – or what passed for it in the Georgian era amongst the aristocrats and royals – Mary Robinson aka Perdita.

 

Hester’s remarks about my writing were so very kind…and thoughtful. She took issue with some interpretations I’d made but acknowledged that so much of the conclusions we drew concerning the lives of these ladies were interpretive, at best.  We loved our subjects, those so-called soiled doves so ill-used by wealthy and powerful men…tough women who sometimes triumphed over social adversity but most times did not.

 

We were thoroughly engrossed in our research and subject matter and it was so delightful to find each other…someone to talk with and reflect and whose company was thoroughly enjoyable. Yes, we most assuredly would have bored the trousers off the majority of people with what we talked about, so being together was a treat beyond the ken of most. We also bonded over biographers who came after us and used our research, claiming it to be their own. We each had a specific bête-noire!

 

 We actually met face-to-face in early 2006, over a delicious meal and white wine at the restaurant atop the National Portrait Gallery. The talking was even more delicious than what we ate or drank  Hester was witty…and wise…and a wonderful companion.

 

We always had something to discuss, somewhere to go – museum exhibition (the Thomas Lawrence show stands out here), Jane Austen’s haunts – the memories are fabulous and Hester’s energy was unflagging as she drove me around the English countryside. I will also never forget the wonderful day we had at Windsor Castle with my two eldest granddaughters, Zoe and Esme Winterbotham. She introduced us to Windsor Castle – what a superb guide! – and the girls introduced her to Wagamama. (A restaurant she said she very much enjoyed getting to know.)

 

A highlight of our day at Windsor was our side visit to St George’s Chapel, where Hester thoroughly scandalized the docents  — and delighted me and the girls – by stomping fiercely on the earthly remains of King Henry VIII, an historical character we found revolting to the max. I will never forget that scene.

 

I miss her. I will always miss her, although I continue to have an ongoing dialogue with her in my mind. I truly believe that people are only really gone when you forget them, when memories disappear. I will never forget my kind, wise, wonderful, clever, witty, darling friend Hester Davenport…and I will bless her memory so long as I live.

 

 

THE NEW ROYAL ACADEMY

Victoria Hinshaw, here.

After two hundred fifty years, the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is celebrating its anniversary by adding an adjacent building to increase its exhibition space.  The new look, not quite completed, opened May 19, 2018.  I visited on May 24 and was delighted with newly added facilities. The annual Summer Exhibition will open June 12, 2018.

Burlington Gardens Entrance

The newly added building once held the Museum of Mankind, located “behind” the Piccadilly site of Burlington House, home of the RA since 1868. The Museum of Mankind, an adjunct of the British Museum, moved out of the building in 2004. The RA subsequently bought it and held a competition for a design to merge the two structures. After a complicated series of setbacks,  the eventual winner, architect David Chipperfield succeeded admirably. More building pictures are below, after the story of one of the opening exhibitions I enjoyed so much.

The exhibition The Making of an Artist: The Great Tradition intrigued me.  As a researcher into the art and architecture of the Georgian, Regency, and Victorian periods, I was familiar with many of the early RA fellows, but had never seen the works shown, drawn from the vaults of the RA.

Satan summoning his Legions 1796-97 by Sir Thomas Lawrence, RA

The huge, almost monumental painting leads the visitor into a selection of works by some of the earliest members. Lawrence, largely self-taught, studied briefly at the RA before earning fame as a portraitist and becoming a full member. He was the fourth president of the RA.

Thomas Lawrence, RA, self-portrait, c.1820

At the beginning of the exhibition, a text panel explains The Royal Academy Foundations: In 1768 a group of painters, sculptors and architects convinced King George III to support the creation of the Royal Academy of Arts. Their aim was to improve the quality of art in Britain and to raise the status of British artists and architects. The new Academy had three key functions that continue today:

Run an art school, training the next generation of artists

Hold an exhibition, selling contemporary art annually, now the Summer Exhibition

Elect as Royal Academicians a small number of leading painters, sculptors and architects (and eventually printmakers)

Royal Academicians by Henry Singleton, 1795,  picture from the RA

The full title is The Royal Academicians Assembled in their Council Chamber to Adjudge the Medals to the Successful Students in Painting, Sculpture, Architecture and Drawing. In the back row are the two female founding members, Angelika Kauffmann and Mary Moser. They were not allowed to participate in the life drawing classes.

First RA President, Joshua Reynolds, Self Portrait, c. 1780

The esteemed portraitist Joshua Reynolds was elected the first RA President.

Angelika Kauffmann, among the founding members of the Royal Academy

Kauffmann is shown sketching the torso, one if many sculptures or copies used as models by RA members and students to hone their drawing skills.  The torso, like others of its ilk, has been in the possession of the RA for 250 years.  It stands nearby, seen below in two views.

                       

Note how the light changes the hue of the photograph, according to the angle.

In the painting of the RA members above, you will see a model of the Laocoon, an ancient Greek statue used for the same purpose as the torso.  The exhibition asks the question: “Does great art begin with studying nature, or studying great art of the past?” One must decide for oneself! But Reynolds considered the study of great art essential for artists.

Cast of Laocoon and his Sons, from a Roman version of a Greek original, c. 10-20 AD

Part Two, further adventures at the RA, coming soon.

 

THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF QUEEN CAROLINE – Part II

Continuing the Accounts of the Death and Burial of Queen Caroline, August 1821

Queen Caroline had long been a popular figure with the masses. During her funeral procession, riots broke out in the London streets. The following account was published in the Manchester Guardian on 18 August 1821:

“Before six o’clock a crowd assembled at Hyde Park Corner. The anxiety of the people as to the course the funeral procession [for Caroline of Brunswick] would take was here most strikingly displayed. The crowd were unwilling to depart from a place where there was a favourable chance of joining or viewing the procession; but there was the greatest agitation and alarm lest it should pass another way.

“The procession reached Kensington at half past nine. It was after eleven that it moved on into Hyde Park, and an attempt was made to pass, but this failed, for the people, apprehensive that the hearse would not pass through the City, shut the gates.

“About twelve o’clock the procession entered the Park, and during its passage through it a scene of confusion and outrage ensued of which the annals of this or any other Christian country can present few parallels. Vast numbers of persons on foot and on horseback passed with great speed along Park Lane. Their object was suspected by the Guards to be to reach that gate before them, with the view of meeting the procession, and forcing it to turn back. To prevent this, the Guards galloped through the Park to gain Cumberland Gate before them. The procession moved at a very quick pace through the Park. Suddenly, it halted, and it was understood that the people had closed the gates. It became necessary to force a way for the procession through whatever impediments might present themselves. The people were equally bent on turning the procession, and forcing it into the route of the city. Here a contest arose, and here, we deeply regret to say, blood was shed!

“Some stones and mud were thrown at the military, and a magistrate being present, the soldiers were sanctioned in firing their pistols and carbines at the unarmed crowd. Screams of terror were heard in every direction. The number of shots fired was not less than forty or fifty. So completely did the soldiery appear at this period to have lost the good temper and forbearance they previously evinced, that they fired shots in the direction in which the procession was moving. Immediately upon the cessation of the firing, the latter part of the procession joined the rest of the funeral train. The rain, which had lately abated, again poured in torrents, as the procession advanced.”

Harriet Arbuthnot, by John Hoppner

Harriet Arbuthnot, diarist and close friend of the Duke of Wellington wrote in her Journal:

“August 1821: 15th Most disgraceful riots have taken place in London at the Queen’s funeral. The people were dissatisfied at the procession being settled not to go thro’ the City and actually, by force and violence, by breaking up the roads and blocking them with carts and carriages, forced it into the City. One man was killed and many wounded, and nothing prevented a dreadful slaughter but the exemplary patience and forbearance of the military…”

A few days later, she wrote: ” 21st – Mr. Arbuthnot writes me word from London that he thinks all the mischiefs at the Queen’s funeral were caused by Sir Robert Baker’s folly and cowardice, that the Riot Act was not read and the soldiers fired without orders; but, after all, men with arms in their hands cannot be expected to stand and be pelted to death without retaliating. Inquests are sitting upon the two men who were killed, and nothing ever was so absurd as the proceedings. Sheriff Waithman acts as Counsel for the dead men and treats the Coroner and everybody with the utmost impertinence; the Life Guards were paraded today that the witnesses might try and identify the man who fired, but all picked out different people and most of them men who were not on duty, so that it is quite a farce…”

On the 30th of August, Mrs. Arbuthnot wrote: “…There was a great riot at the Knightsbridge barracks at the funeral of the two men who were killed on the day of the Queen’s funeral.  The people hissed and hooted the soldiers and at last attacked one who was amongst them unarmed. His comrades defended him and a general battle ensured. Nobody was much hurt.”

Queen Caroline memorial plate.

Mrs. Arbuthnot added a month later:

“Sept. 14 1821:  The Duke of Wellington dined with us and told me that he was quite sure Sir Robert Wilson was at the bottom of whole riot at the Queen’s funeral. The Ministers have evidence that he offered five shillings to the first man who wd break up the roads, and gave beer to the mob to excite them; he also abused one of the soldiers and d—-d him, on which the soldier loaded his pistol and cocked it, which preparation rather alarmed Sir Robert, and he made off. he is to be dismissed the Service as soon as the King returns, and he is expected today. I asked the Duke why he was not tried for treason for obstructing the King’s Highway, but he said people were afraid of appearing as witnesses from the violence of the mob.”

Another memorial to Queen Caroline

From the Hamburg papers, published September 5, 1821, in The Times:

“Brunswick, August 25:  Yesterday was performed here the funeral ceremony of the entrance and depositing of the body of the late Queen of England, with all the solemnity and attachment to the House of their Princes which characterises the brave Brunswickers….The citizens of Brunswick…drew the car to the church themselves….Immediately behind it followed several hundred merchants and citizens with tapers. Behind the train of the citizens followed the carriages of the English, Alderman Wood, Lord Hood, Lady Hamilton, Austin, etc. and several carriages belonging to persons of this city attached to the House of Brunswick…There were 20,000 persons who followed the royal corpse, and the greatest tranquillity and order prevailed during the whole of the funeral solemnity.  The church was hung with black, and 60 young ladies, all dressed in white with black sashes, received the corpse, and accompanied it, with wax tapers, to the vault. ”

Burial place of Caroline of Brunswick

Caroline is buried in the Brunswick royal tomb in the cathedral in Brunswick (in German, Dom St. Blasii et Johannis), a large Lutheran church in the city now known as Braunschweig.

Cathedral of St. Blaise and St. John, Braunschweig, Germany

Numerous volumes have been published about the life of Caroline of Brunswick, her trials and tribulations. Below, the 1996 biography by Flora Fraser, published by Knopf.

Ms. Fraser’s conclusion (p.466): “[Caroline’s] high-spirited, even reckless, response to her predicament brought her unprecedented liberty, as she confounded the machinations of her husband and of the governments in England and on the Continent to bring her to book. But in the end Caroline’s breathtaking audacity had fatal consequences, contributing to the loss of her daughter, her crown and her life.”

THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF QUEEN CAROLINE

Princess Caroline of Brunswick, Princess of Wales,  by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1798 – Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The married life and death of Queen Caroline (1768-1821 were equally frenzied. Though she was never officially crowned, Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfbuttel was the wife of King George IV and thus, Princess of Wales and after the 1820 death of George III, the Queen of England.  She died on August 7, 1821,  just a month after her husband’s lavish coronation ceremony which she was physically restrained from attending.

Queen Caroline, ca. 1821, by James Lonsdale – National Portrait Gallery, London

For an account of her death, we turn to excerpts from a letter from Viscount Hood to Henry Brougham, M.P., who had represented the Queen at her recent trial and had gone to York to attend Assizes.

Brandenburgh House, 8th Aug., 1821.
“. . . The melancholy event took place at 25 minutes past 10 o’clock last night, when our dear Queen breathed her last. Her Majesty has quitted a scene of uninterrupted persecution, and for herself I think her death is not to be regretted. . . . She died in peace with all her enemies. Je ne mourrai sans douleur, mais je mourrai sans regret (I shall not die without pain, but I die without regret)  was frequently expressed by her Majesty. I never beheld a firmer mind, or any one with less feelings at the thought of dying, which she spoke of without the least agitation, and at different periods of her illness, even to very few hours of her dissolution, arranged her worldly concerns. . .”

George IV in Coronation Robes, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1821

King George IV learned the news of the death of his estranged — and  much despised — wife while on board a ship bound for his visit to Ireland.  Apparently illness had accomplished what he had tried to do so often in life — rid himself of Caroline.  Though there were rumors of poison and other nefarious plots, her death was officially ruled to be from natural causes.  George IV greatly resented the popular acclaim that Caroline enjoyed; she was a favorite of the people; they probably loved her mainly because they detested the Prince Regent/King and his profligate ways.

Even in death, Caroline left controversy in her wake, as expressed by our old friend, the Diarist Thomas Creevey:

Mr. Creevey to Miss Ord.

“Cantley, Aug. 11.
. . . The death of this poor woman under all its circumstances is a most striking event and gave me an infernal lump in my throat most part of Thursday. . . .  (There) is one subject which gives me some uneasiness in the making of her will, the Queen wished to leave some diamonds to Victorine, the child of Pergami, of whom she was so fond. This was not liked by Brougham and her other lawyers, so the bequest does not appear in the will ; but the jewels are nevertheless to be conveyed to Victorine. This, you know, is most delicate matter to be employed on her deathbed in sending her jewels from Lady Anne Hamilton and Lady Hood to Pergami’s child appears to me truly alarming. I mean, should it be known, and one is sure it will be so, for Taylor had a letter from Denison last night mentioning such a report, and being quite horrified at it. On the other hand, when I expressed the same sentiment to Brougham, he thought nothing of it. His creed is that she was a child-fancier: that Pergami’s elevation was all owing to her attachment to Victorine, and he says his conviction is strengthened every day of her entire innnocence as to Bergami. This, from Brougham, is a great deal, because I think it is not going too far to say that he absolutely hated her; nor do I think her love for her Attorney General (Brougham) was very great.”

Henry Brougham ( 1778-1868) advisor and attorney to Caroline, later Lord Chancellor of GB by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1825

Creevey is referring to Victorine, the daughter of Caroline’s companion and perhaps lover, Pergami. She was one of several children Caroline doted upon during her lifetime, Whether any of them were her illegitimate offspring was widely discussed but never proved. Several were left legacies in her will.

Caroline, Princess of Wales, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1804, NPG

George IV was desperate to rid himself of his wife.  They had been estranged since shortly after their arranged marriage in 1795, even before the birth of their only child, Princess Charlotte of Wales (1796-1817).  Even after Charlotte’s lamented death in childbirth, Caroline had remained abroad, living in Italy until her husband became king. But when she returned to England, she faced an unpleasant situation.

Trial of Queen Caroline by Sir George Hayter, NPG

When  King George tried to divorce his wife in a trial before the House of Lords in 1820, Henry Peter Brougham (1778–1868), later 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux, defended her.  The fact that the case was later dropped gave him great prestige.  He became Lord Chancellor of Great Britain under King William IV.

Letter from Henry Brougham, M.P., to Mr. Creevey.

“Aug. 14, 1821.

DEAR C,
I have seen Lushington and Wilde repeatedly. They are at this moment in negociation with the Govt. ; or rather throwing up all concern with the funeral on account of this indecent hurry. Their ground is a clear one : they won’t take charge of it from Stade the port in Hanover to Brunswick without knowing that arrangements are ready to receive them. . . . The Govt., only wishing the speedy embarkation, as they avow, for the sake of not delaying the dinner at Dublin, insist on getting it on board as quick as possible, and don’t mind what happens afterwards. … I shall, I think, be satisfied with going to Harwich with it, and not go, as I had intended, to Brunswick.”

Poor Caroline. Though the people mourned her, only those required to accompany her body apparently wanted to do so.  She had requested burial in her native Brunswick.

Mr. Creevey to Miss Ord.

” Cantley, Aug. 18th.

“. . . Here is Brougham again. He has been at Harwich, where he saw the body of the Queen embarked about 3 o’clock on Thursday; and then immediately came across the country, and, after travelling all night, got here to dinner yesterday, and proceeds to Durham to-night to join the circuit there. I wish very much I had been at Harwich : according to Brougham’s account it must have been the most touching spectacle that can be imagined the day magnificently beautiful the sea as smooth as glass
our officers by land and sea all full dressed soldiers and sailors all behaving themselves with the most touching solemnity the yards of the four ships of war all manned the Royal Standard drooping over the coffin and the Queen’s attendants in the centre boat every officer with his hat off the whole time minute guns firing from the ships and shore, and thousands of people on the beach sobbing put aloud. … It was as it should be and the only thing that was so during the six and twenty years’ connection of this unhappy woman with this country. . . And now what do you think Brougham said to me not an hour ago? that if he had gone with the Queen’s body to Brunswick, it would have been going too far it would have been over-acting his part ; ‘ it being very well known that through the whole of this business he had never been very much for the Queen ! ‘ Now upon my soul, this is quite true, and, being so, did you ever know anything at all to equal it ?”

Apparently Mr. Creevey did not approve of Mr. Brougham’s dismissal of any affection for the lady he had served as adviser since 1812.

Engraving of funeral procession of Caroline, August 14, 1821, British Museum
Caroline had long been a popular figure with the masses.   During her funeral procession, riots broke out in the London streets.  We will continue reporting on Queen Caroline’s death and burial soon.

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.