For this movie discussion, I decided to visit some of my favorite places in the UK for filming. The places below were all used in Pride and Prejudice 2005. I have also included some of the history. If you know additional facts, please chime in. Most of these facts came from http://www.infobritain.co.uk.
Groombridge Place and Enchanted Forest, Kent (Longbourn)
In 1662 by architect Philip Packer, with the help of his friend, Christopher Wren, the seventeenth century’s premier architect, built Groombridge Place. Packer’s house was built on the site of a series of former manor houses owned by wealthy nobles, including Richard Waller, who famously kept Charles Duke of Orleans at Groombridge after capturing him at the Battle of Agincourt. Completing his new house in 1662 Packer then started thinking about his garden. Beginning in 1674, Packer began designing the gardens surrounding Groombridge House He was assisted by John Evelyn, a horticulturist and famous diarist. Evelyn was a multi-talented man who showed an unusually modern concern with the problems of urban living, and a reverence for gardens as an escape from them. Evelyn conceived a series of formal gardens arranged as “outside rooms” of the house. Although Evelyn was generally formal in his gardening ideas, the sense of blurring the boundary between indoors and outdoors was actually a theme that would emerge once again in the 20th Century. Some of Evelyn’s garden rooms at Groombridge also preempted modern design in creating an artfully “natural” landscape. The Secret Garden is the best example. It is suggested that this was Packer’s favourite garden. He is supposed to have died here in 1686 while reading a book.
Basildon Park, Berkshire (Netherfield Park)
Building of Basildon Park began in 1776 under Francis Sykes’ tutelage. A farmer’s son, who joined the British East India Company to make his fortune to support his political career, Sykes became governor of Kazimbazar. Returning to England in 1771 a rich man, Sykes bought the Basildon estate. Although facing financial difficulties, he managed to win a baronetcy and to become an MP. Sykes struggled on with the building of his grand house, in a palladian style, which was already going out of fashion. When Sykes died in London in 1804, Basildon Park remained unfinished. Sykes’ son inherited the property, but he too died within a few weeks, and the new owner, Sykes’ grandson, Francis Sykes the third baronet, was only five years old. With little money, ownership somehow remained with the boy, who at age 14 started entertaining Prince George at the house. Prince George was famously dissolute, and Sykes’ association with him only drained the family fortune further. With the family in a state of financial turmoil, Basildon Park was offered for sale. Just for good measure, personal turmoil was also thrown into the mix, when Sykes’ wife Henrietta started having an affair with future Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Henrietta also had an affair with the painter Daniel Maclise. When her husband denounced Maclise he broke the unwritten rule that such goings on in high society should be kept discreet. As a result, Charles Dickens, a friend of Maclise, decided to use the name Bill Sykes for a villainous character in a new book he was writing. Oliver Twist, complete with Bill Sykes, was published in 1838, and Francis Sykes was humiliated. He finally sold Basildon Park that year.
Burghley, Lincolnshire (Rosings Park)
Burghley is perhaps the grandest of all England’s sixteenth century Elizabethan houses, capturing the drama and other-worldly spirit of that time. Lord Burghley, William Cecil, Treasurer to Elizabeth I, and her most influential advisor, directed its structure. His grand house is like others of the period, Longleat or Wollaton Hall for example, except Burghley just had more of everything. In fact it may claim to be the definitive grand house of late Tudor England. Burghley, like most great properties, housed lavish collections of art and valuable objects. The Heaven Room became Lady Catherine’s drawing room in the 2005 film. The fifth Earl, Lord Exeter, commissioned the Italian artist Verrio to paint the murals on the wall and ceiling. There is a Hell Staircase leading to this room. Owned by a family trust, Lady Victoria Leatham, daughter of the Marquis of Exeter, the medal-winning Olympic runner portrayed in Chariots of Fire, manages the estate. (As footnote,s the late Ian Charleson, who played Exeter in the film, has a RSC Award named after him. Matthew Macfadyen previously was nominated for the award. Also, Lady Victoria appears regularly on Antiques Roadshow.) Burghley has been used as a location for a number of films including Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth, the Golden Age, and The DaVinci Code.
Chatsworth is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Since Chatsworth was first built in the early sixteenth century, it has been closely involved with religious disputes that have shaped Britain into modern times. Elizabeth Hardwick, and her husband Sir William Cavendish, treasurer to Henry VIII, built Chatsworth. When the king decided to marry Anne Boleyn, he needed to escape the influence of the pope who refused to grant Henry a divorce from his first wife Catherine of Aragon. In the upheaval of the Reformation that followed, huge amounts of money were taken from dissolved Catholic monasteries. From 1532 onwards a significant amount of this appropriated money went to Sir William Cavendish. He was made First Earl of Devonshire, and Chatsworth benefited from William’s newfound wealth. The Earls of Devonshire remained Protestant champions thereafter. Protestant Elizabeth I held the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots prisoner at Chatsworth on a number of occasions between 1569 and 1584.
Wilton House, Wiltshire (Mr. Darcy’s music room at Pemberley, where Elizabeth first meets Georgiana)
Wilton has been linked to royalty since early Anglo Saxon times. A nunnery was founded here, which figures quite frequently in Anglo Saxon royal history. The twelfth century saw the nunnery at Wilton being replaced by a Benedictine abbey, which was disbanded during Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. In 1542 Henry VIII granted the abbey and its lands to William Herbert, whose descendents, the Earls of Pembroke, still own Wilton. A year after acquiring his new property William Herbert began creating a Tudor house, incorporating parts of the old abbey. This house was famous during Tudor times as the residence of Mary Sidney, sister of Elizabethan poet Sir Philip Sidney. In the 1630s the 4th Earl of Pembroke commissioned Inigo Jones to re-model Wilton House in a Palladian style. The Double Cube Room used in the film is an example of the style. Many films have used Wilton House as a location including The Young Victoria, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, The Madness of King George, Mrs Brown, and The Bounty.
Haddon Hall, Derbyshire (the inn at Lambton)
Originally built as a fortified manor house in the eleventh century, Haddon Hall belonged to the Vernon family, and then passed by marriage to the powerful Manners family. In 1703 John Manners, 9th Earl of Rutland left Haddon Hall, and went to live at the Manners family seat at Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire. A long period of neglect followed for Haddon Hall. For over two hundred years it lay in a kind of suspended animation in an almost unaltered sixteenth century condition. A lesser house would have fallen down, but this was a strong stone built, fortified manor house. The empty house endured through the centuries until the 1920s when the 9th Duke of Rutland visited his long forgotten family property and realised how important it was. With the help of a restoration expert named Harold Brakspear the building was restored, not as a building representing a single time period, but more as a building that had accreted layers like sedimentary rock over long periods of time. There are small sections that date to the eleventh century, but there are also parts of the building which date to rebuilding between the thirteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
With Haddon Hall illustrating a long period in history it is fitting that the house is often used as a film location for historical film and drama. Haddon Hall has been used for The Princess Bride(1986), Jane Eyre (1996), Elizabeth (1998), and Pride and Prejudice (2005).
Stourhead, Wiltshire (location of The Temple of Apollo used for the first proposal scene)
Henry Hoare, whose father, Sir Richard Hoare had made his fortune in banking, built Stourhead between 1717 and 1725. Stourhead and the banking fortune, which created it, date from a financial revolution that accompanied the Glorious Revolution of 1688. After 1688, British monarchs were obliged to work within the constitution set out by Parliament. Now debt run up by the country became the “national debt.” Debt became increasingly accepted, and this new attitude was one of the reasons Britain became such a powerful country in the 18th century. The gardens at Stourhead illustrate the worldwide power that Britain began to enjoy following the financial revolution. It became increasingly fashionable to have exotic foreign plants in gardens, brought back from countries under British influence. The estate is huge, and includes King Alfred’s Tower, a folly of monumental proportions. This fifty meter high building lies at the end of a long coach track leading away from the house. It commemorates King Alfred’s victory over the Danes in 878 A.D. Stourhead remained with the Hoare family until 1946. Henry Hoare, the Sixth Baronet lost his only son during World War One, and a year before his own death in 1947, he gave Stourhead to the National Trust.
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. don’t I wish I could see those some day or at least a couple of them. Such amazing architecture. I have no education in it, but I love looking at it.
I have not experienced all of these, but I have visited several. Under Thatcher, the British government made a move to save so many of these older homes. I wish the US government was as attentive.
I’m lucky enough to know most of these spots and although my real favourite is Chatsworth I do also love Haddon especially the trees that edge the banks of the river running through the grounds. The roots have grown into the river searching for the water source and they look like something out of Tolkien’s Old Forest.
Alex, you are blessed if you have seen these up close. They take my breath away.