The Real Pemberley

It is widely believed that Pemberley from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was based on Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. The architecture, landscaping and vistas are simply breathtaking and as the House is approached it’s easy to see why this could be Pemberley:

“They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills;—and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place where nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in her admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!” Jane Austen (1813)

The original house dates to the 16th Century and the gardens the landscaping designed by Lancelot “Capability” Brown. On this occasion we didn’t tour the house but concentrated on the gardens and landscapes. Chatsworth manages to blend both grand and informal design beautifully and throughout the gardens there are various sculptures which I believe only enhance the space. I’m not sure what Capability Brown would have made of the sculptured hares… but I loved them!

Chatsworth has a lovely gift shop partly set in the old stables which is filled with unusual gifts and books. We bought a Christmas reindeer (nicer than it sounds) a rustic heart (because a girl can never have too many hearts in the home) and lots of pretty ribbon. It’s always nice to bring home ideas so this trip was no different!

1. Plant some box hedging and keep it clipped.

2. Buy a sculpture for the garden (it doesn’t have to be a hare!).

3. Continue with the house renovations (Chatsworth was probably built in less time than it will take us to renovate!!).

4. Read Pride & Prejudice again (and again, and again…).

5. Get my own Mr Darcy to help me with some digging this weekend to put the garden to bed!

44 thoughts on “The Real Pemberley

  1. Is it possible to pay for entry to the gardens only? (Last time I went round the house but not the gardens, so would like to see these alone sometime.)
    My sister and I once drove through the grounds on an early summer evening and it was marvellous watching the sheep with their lambs coming (streaming) down the hill as we went along the road :)

    • You can visit the gardens separately – £11 for adults which sounds quite steep but there is a lot to explore and if you take a picnic with you it keeps the price down. All the profits go back to the Chatsworth Charity which maintains the property so it’s all for a good cause.

      • Thanks for the info. I think we’ll take a trip to Chatworth the next spring, so we can take full advantage of the gardens :)

    • It had a major facelift a couple of years ago – the stonework was cleaned and the windows were decorated with gold leaf. The grounds are well maintained and even if you don’t visit the house and formal gardens the surrounding estate is well worth a walk. It really is inspirational.

  2. I am enamored with Jane Austin. I have read P&P so many times. Wouldn’t it be something if you found the dreamy Colin Firth digging holes in your garden. :) The house, grounds and views are really very impressive! On my bucket list!

    • My photos don’t do it justice – it really is stunning and worthy to be on a bucket list. I imagine Mr Darcy would be riding past on his stallion to oversee the gardeners!! I love Austen too x

  3. I have great memories if visiting Chatsworth as a child and always admired the Paxton glasshouses. Whilst CB may not have approved, gardens change and evolve otherwise they die.
    If you can find a garden centre (has to be mail-order) that stocks Mr Darcys please let me know.
    You can not possibly be serious about Box can you?

    • I think the Devonshires have managed to preserve the sense of the gardens whilst introducing new plants and themes that work well. The catalogues are all out of Darcys at the moment but hope to have some back in stock for Christmas (delivery excludes the Outer Hebrides unfortunately).
      I have a yearning for a very small, neat miniature box hedge to surround a small patch of herbs… I could probably use lavender but I’m never very good with that!

    • It’s funny that we never seem to visit those places on our doorstep! We’re so lucky in this country that we never have to travel too far to have a great day out! They had started to put the Christmas decorations up around the stables… we’ve been before at Christmas and it’s truly magical x

  4. *sigh* You’re photos leave me sappy and nostalgic. Which is precisely the reason I need your blog. It softens my edges.
    Have you seen Lost in Austen? A true giggle fest if you need it.
    Such a beautiful post. Again.

    • Ha ha ha… you always make me smile :-)
      I love Lost in Austen and I’m still looking for the secret panel in my bathroom that will lead me to the Bennett’s house!
      Thank you for your lovely comment – you’re sweet as well as sappy!!

  5. Lovely photos – as always! I was dragged to Chatsworth many years ago by a friend who wanted to go to the horse trials. It was before the gardening obsession kicked in, so I never even reaised there were gardens to visit – looks like I’ll have to go back!

  6. What timing! I just finished watching the original BBC production of P&P Monday night while grading papers! I was given the movie set as a gift. Colin Firth makes me swoon. :o) What a beautiful place! I’d love to visit someday.

    • I think that the BBC series is the best too… the costumes are heavenly and the characters portrayed are closest to what I imagine when I read Jane Austen. In the 2005 film adaption (Keira Knightly) they used Chatsworth as Pemberley.
      Colin Firth was excellent but I thought you reserved swooning for James Bond :-)

      • Colin Firth and James Bond share the top spot. On miserable winter days I put in my favorite Colin Firth movies and have a Firthival (Firth Festival). Bridget Jones, Love Actually, and Mamma Mia are all Firth favorites. :)

  7. What a lovely post, PJ. These photos are brilliant. I think the hares are quite clever. I’m also fascinated by what appears to be a basket weave sculpture around the tree. I hope you’ll work your new “reindeer” into a future post.

    • The willow sculptures are by an artist who works with natural materials and they look as if they have grown out of the ground. I will certainly photograph the reindeer for a Christmas post… which will be here sooner than we think!

      • Yes it will! It’s coming up fast.

        I look forward to those pics.

        I love those willow sculptures. They are serene and funky and fun. Truly artistic.

    • There were several large hare sculptures and a couple of whimsical looking elephants which I loved but haven’t put on the post. It really is a beautiful place x

  8. I’ve been a couple of times to Chatsworth and its lovely but its been a while now so your post has encouraged me to go and have another visit. The sculptures look amazing.
    I used to live down the road from the other Pemberley (the one used as Pemberley in the BBC adaptation with CF as Mr Darcy – still my favourite version) that is Lyme Park. Its not too far from Chatsworth and well worth a visit though not quite as grand but rugged and charming. I did some voluntary gardening there for a while and loved it, I’ll always have a soft spot for that place.

    • What a great experience to do gardening at a beautiful old house like that! I totally agree that the BBC adaptation is the best. I would have loved to have lived in those times but it must have been very difficult too.

  9. Thanks for the visit, I could spend months in the English countryside just relishing all there is to see. I’m glad you included and excerpt form P&P, I really must read it again. I can’t imagine the cost of maintaining these homes and gardens, it must be staggering but so worth the effort. The formal gardens evoke all kinds of romantic daydreams..maybe Mr Firth will make an appearance too. I’m sure Christmas would be fantastic…oh, maybe one day I hope!

    • It’s a very grand greenhouse called a glass house. I didn’t go in (although I could have) because it was really humid and my camera would have gone into meltdown! The Victorians were amazing and all the elite houses had these large glass houses to grow exotica such as pineapples and melons… which you can probably grow like weeds over there! For cool, wet England though it was quite a talking point!!

      • Thanks for going into detail. I wonder what humid is like there compared to here. It’s AWFUL here.

    • Bonjour Jocelyne! Thank you so much for visiting my blog… I’ve just visited yours too and I’m already a fan!!
      Chatsworth is beautiful and well worth a visit if you are ever in England.

      • My favorite book of all time! Even though I am an American, early exposure to Austen, The Secret Garden have given me very English sensibilities about what a garden should look like and Chatsworth is just as I imagined Pemberley! Thanks for posting!

  10. Hello Pajama Girl,

    Just got around to reading your posts of the last month or so. Great post on Chatsworth House! One of the topics I discuss with my Design students is garden themes – English Landscape Style as practiced by Capability Brown, William Kent, Humphry Repton etc. is still one of my favourites. And yet I’ve never been to England!

    My grandmother was English and her garden was very much styled in this fashion – I spent many a Sunday afternoon exploring her gardens so it’s very nostalgic for me.

    Anyways, the next time I teach a class on this theme maybe I’ll ask to use a photo or two from your post.

    Cheers,
    Sue

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