Thursday, August 13, 2015

The English country house - Lyme Park

One of the things I love most about living in England is visiting magnificent country houses. England has many such houses, built by wealthy landowners in previous centuries, and they demonstrate the best of English architecture and taste over a millennium.

One of my favourites is Lyme Park , on the border of Cheshire and Derbyshire. Lyme Park is one of the most famous, and beautiful, houses in England. It's probably most well known for its appearance as Pemberley in the 1995 BBC mini-series of  Pride and Prejudice. It's immediately recognisable because of the mirror lake in front of the house, which, on a clear day, perfectly reflects the house. Nowadays, visitors approach the house from the other side but in its heyday, the drive led up to the side by the lake.

The estate was granted to Sir Thomas Danyers in 1346 and passed to the Legh family in 1388. The house itself was built in the late sixteenth century, with alterations being made in the 1720s showing the influence of Baroque and Palladian styles. It was passed to the National Trust in 1946 and is now held in trust for the nation. The National Trust owns many of England's historic houses, since most of them are too expensive for individual families to maintain.

The houses are open to the public and I've spent many a happy hour wandering through perfectly preserved rooms, examining architecture, enjoying the gardens, learning about the history or just soaking up the atmosphere. I'm also lucky enough to do frequent book signings at Lyme Park, where Mr Darcy's Diary proves very popular in the shop. They often have exhibitions linked to Pride and Prejudice. My favourite was probably the costume exhibition, which featured the famous white shirt which became the famous wet shirt! Here I am, standing next to it (although, alas, Mr Darcy was not wearing it at the time). As you can see, I dressed for the occasion!

If you're looking for a quintessentially English day out, I can thoroughly recommend Lyme Park. It's a beautiful house with interesting rooms, glorious gardens, a deer park and a folly. It has a wide variety of displays and exhibitions, which vary from season to season, and it has an excellent shop full of Pride and Prejudice inspired items. It's one of my favourite places and I hope it becomes one of your favourite places, too.

Amanda Grange


Elizabeth Hawksley said...

Thank you for such a lovely post, Amanda. I visited Lyme Park a couple of years ago when the rhododendrons were out and they made a wonderful frame for the house from across the lake. I particularly loved the knot garden which you could look down on from an elegant stone balcony.

And I was delighted to see that Mr Darcy's Diary was well-stocked in the book shop!

ego said...

thanks a lot!