Day Five: Lyme Park and Sudbury Hall
Tuesday was an early start - we had to be on the coach by 8 am for our trip to Lyme Park (used as the exterior of Pemberley in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice) in Cheshire. Because it was to be a long day, we had two drivers. Unfortunately, having two did not help ensure that we arrived at our destination in a timely manner. When it began to take longer to arrive at Lyme Park than we had planned, and when the routes chosen by the drivers did not seem at all familiar, Julie and the other two English members of our group began to get concerned. They were right to be so, for instead of bringing us to Lyme Park in Cheshire, they brought us to the Lyme Street Car Park in Chester. Though we are all assured Chester is a very fine city in its own right, it was not at all where we intended to be. Julie got the drivers straightened out, and it is to be hoped that the coach company will no longer rely solely on satellite navigation in the future. Sheesh. She also made a quick call to the staff at Lyme Park, who assured us that our very late arrival there would not cause a problem at all. Indeed, the property manager and head gardener, Gary Raynford, kindly met us at the gate, calmed our frazzled nerves and welcomed us very genially to Lyme Park.
A delicious lunch was served to us in the old servants dining hall, after which Gary gave us a fabulous and funny guided tour of the gardens. He was an exceptional guide, allowing us the special treat of roaming in the private gardens, just as Lizzy and the Gardiners did in Pride and Prejudice, then he showed us all the spots used in all the exterior shots of the house. Gary wondered aloud why we had not brought a Mr Darcy look alike with us to pose at certain points in the grounds: one of our number (Laraine) suggested he would do the job very adequately…and so when we arrived at the spot where Darcy watches Lizzy and the Gardiners drive away, Gary very sportingly posed for us in that very spot where Darcy stood. What a kindred spirit and good sport.

We were then free to view the house and the rest of the grounds. Even though the interior was not used in the adaptation (the interior not being in good condition at the time of the filming), we enjoyed seeing the rooms and artwork. It was nice to be able to examine the rooms without waiting for a tour guide, and the folks stationed in each room were very knowledgeable about the house and its contents. The gift shops, too, were glad to see us come and empty their shelves, and in one staffed by the friendly Micelle Smith, they were playing the sound track of P&P2 to welcome us.

After leaving Lyme Park, waving goodbye to Gary who now continued the Darcy and Bingley impersonation by standing at the gate to wish us Godspeed, we traveled about an hour and a half through beautiful non-CGI Derbyshire scenery to Sudbury Hall, the house used for the interior filming of Pemberley for a private evening tour. Barry Jackson, who had worked at the house while they were filming the mini-series, welcomed us. He treated us to a very informative talk about the filming process (which was full of delicious gossip about certain performers). Once again we split into two groups for the tour of the house, and it was so interesting to see the spots used as Pemberley. Indeed, when we first entered the house, we could see through the entrance hall into the stairway - the yellow stairway with the carved staircase. We all oohed and aahed, and the guides chuckled at us. We were not the first people to get excited upon seeing those yellow walls. The wood carving in the staircase was incredible, and the saloon, used as the drawing/music room in the miniseries, though beautiful, was much smaller than many of us imagined. Much speculation as to camera angles was done in that room.

The Gallery upstairs was a favorite, and many of us replayed in our heads the scene of Lizzy and the Gardiners as we walked down the room to view the point where Mr. Darcy's portrait hung (the portrait is now owned by Mrs Firth, Colin's mother, we were given to understand). The Queen's Bedroom, used as Mr. Darcy's bedchamber, was another room filled with the sound of many Oohs and Ahhhs. Ladies.

We ended our tour with a tasty and warm dinner in the restaurant (including a portion of the sublime Queen of Puddings) and, naturally, some shopping at the gift shop which the staff kindly kept open for us.

We drove back to Hothorpe, watching the scenes in P&P2 which were filmed at Lyme and Sudbury, tired but sated.


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