Mr. & Mrs. Darcy’s Home
I was in 5th grade when I first tried reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I used the word “tried” because to be honest, I didn’t really understand the book that well. When I was a bit older, I found my copy of the book and just about fell in love. I found the book deep and moving; it had changed me and my perception of love and pride. I consider it one of the books closest to my heart.
While reading, I never really focused on the setting of the novel. I was too preoccupied in Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy’s love story that I always just imagined the setting as ‘old’. When the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice came out though, I was thrown into a familiar world, but this time more colorful and real. The movie, which had Keira Knightly starring as Elizabeth Bennet, is actually one of my favorite films now.
It is rumored that Jane Austen was thinking of Chatsworth House when she wrote about the fictional residence of Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice. In fact, she even mentions it as one of the estates Elizabeth visits during her tour of Derbyshire. Knowing this, it isn’t a surprise that in the 2005 film adaptation of the book, the producers actually used the house to represent Pemberley.
When I saw the house in which Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfayden) lived, I was awestruck (just as Elizabeth was). It was a huge, magnificent structure and seeing the interiors only made me more amazed (of course I also had a massive crush on Mr. Darcy and so I really appreciated his home a lot).
It is quite hard to pinpoint what period style the house belongs to because through the ages, it has gone under numerous renovations and changes. At the very least, one could describe Chatsworth as of the Classical style. The first owners of the estates, Sir William Cavendish and his third wife Bess of Hardwick had Chatsworth constructed in the 16th century in the Elizabethan style, also known as the Early Renaissance style in England), although it had touches of the Medieval style as well (as known because of the layout and placement of certain rooms such as the great hall). Sir William had died before the construction was done, but Bess had the house finished. It had a central courtyard and corner towers facing the hillside but those are all gone. A lot of the interiors are still in Elizabethan style though.
Chatsworth House was next greatly changed during the 17th century by the first Duke. The renovation of Chatsworth was done in the English Baroque style. It was worked on by first by William Talman then by Thomas Archer. Each front is different.
It was during this time that Chatsworth really started to look like what it does today. The south has a dramatic façade with its pilasters, balustrade and entablature while the east front is fairly simple. The west front is quite a sight to see. It’s larger than the other sides of the house because of its slope and with its central pediment, pilasters and columns it certainly seems bigger than life. It’s also a much decorated front, with stone carvings and gold trims on the windows. The north front of the house was the last and most challenging front to be built. The north end of the west front projected 3m further than that of the east front and so they had to build the north front in a curve, as to trick the eye.
In the 19th century, the 6th Duke hired Jeffry Wyatville to make some changes around Chatsworth and make it more ‘modern’ and less formal. They added corridors on the inside courtyard, making the courtyard smaller but the rooms more accessible. Not a lot of changes to the Baroque interiors have been done except for a few details and the changing of some staircases. The 6th Duke had a new north wing constructed and it doubled the size of the house. It was done in the Italianate style which doesn’t take away from the Baroque style but in fact, even complements it.
In Pride and Prejudice, all the exterior shots of Pemberley are of Chatsworth but not all the interiors are.
The sculpture gallery and painted hall are two interiors that were actually shot in Chatsworth. It’s in these rooms that Lizzy first goes into while at Pemberley.
Although we briefly talked about Chatsworth in ID14 and even watched Pride and Prejudice in class, I still decided to write about this place because it really intrigued me and I wanted to learn more about it. When I re-read Pride and Prejudice again, I no longer just imagined them in some random old mansion. The movie version of the book showed me what Pemberley could be (which is more than what my imagination ever came up with). I used to say I preferred books over movies because I liked the freedom to create my own ideas about the characters, events and places mentioned in the book. For books like Pride and Prejudice though, it’s quite nice to have something concrete to base your ideas on.
If I thought Pemberley was amazing and breathtaking with what I saw on my TV, the real Chatsworth is probably ten times grander than what they portrayed. It’s not just a manor house but a sprawling estate with large gardens, ponds and even other structures.
Chatsworth House doesn’t just have a nice structure – the furnishings and finishes of the rooms are remarkable. Notably, in the music room there is an trompe l’oeil of a violin by the artist Jan van der Vaart.
To my great delight, Pride and Prejudice has an alternate ending which was shown to American audiences. If I thought I loved Pemberley before, this scene definitely sealed the deal.
Chatsworth House made for such a magical backdrop, did it not?
I would definitely love to be able to visit it someday, don’t you?
Watch this video to see more of Chatsworth House: