During my final weekend, I couldn’t resist taking the train northwards to visit National Trust property Lyme Park. As some of you will probably know, this is the mansion used for Pemberley in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice. Walking through the great grounds I had a magnificent view of the surrounding landscape, seeing sheep and deer (though sadly not their herd of Highland Cattle).
The house is the largest in Cheshire and was built in the 16th century, but has of course evolved over time with large additions during the 1700s and 1800s. The gardens, on the other hand, are mainly Edwardian. In the hall of the house, where guests would wait for their hosts, there was a clever sort of hidden “trap”. What looked like an ordinary portrait was actually attached to hinges, meaning the people of the house could spy on their guests from their drawing room above. Apparently this was not a very uncommon thing.
A small but elaborate clock in one of the rooms was decorated with a couple of wood cutters, whose axes moved back and forth with the pendulum, so as to make it seem as though they were really working. In the same room were some 19th century chairs with the monogram of 17th century king Charles I, which I found a little strange. Then it turned out that the silk cloth with which these chairs were covered was said to be the lining of the mantle that the king had worn when he was executed. I marvel at the objects and histories of these places.
In the house the symbol of an arm holding a flag was prominent in the décor. This was a sign awarded to the family of the house during the 1300s, along with the land where this later house now stands. During the battle of Crécy in 1346, the banner of the Black Prince (the heir to the English throne) was captured by the French. Sir Thomas Danyers managed to get the flag back by cutting the arm off a French knight.
While the house and gardens were very interesting and beautiful, both as they were and due to them “being” Pemberley, what really captured me during this visit were the grounds and the views. Standing on my own on top of a great hill with a view for miles and the wind in my hair was something I would not have traded for anything.