Miss Dashwood and Miss Marianne are very pleased to present to you today Mr. Hannu Heino, a "middle-aged gent from Northern Europe" and new member of the P&P95 Forever Club. Mr. Heino was kind enough to share with us some of his experiences in traveling England and seeing the locations at which P&P was filmed, and we asked if he'd be willing to write up a guest post for the Club, as we thought our other readers might enjoy his writing as well. Without further ado...
I was simply thrilled when Miss Dashwood suggested that I wrote a guest post about my recent adventures into the world of Jane Austen. Thank you for this opportunity.
If you are reading this you must be fond of the book and the excellent 1995 adaptation. You are probably also deeper into Austen than I am. As a Janeite I'm really a noob, but a passionate one, and that is something I wish to share.
You might be surprised to hear that the books of Jane Austen were not read at school at the time I was there. I don't think they do even now. We had to read some American literature like Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and J.D. Salinger, but not any English and definitely not Austen. I've read quite a lot of science fiction and fantasy in my youth, but been more into memoirs than fiction later on. Up to this spring I never had any interest in Austen's books as I considered them "ladies only". I did have quite a prejudice, didn't I?
I know better now.
Learning about Jane Austen's masterpieces as a mature adult has given me an opportunity to really enjoy them; to understand the multiple layers of the stories and to find out how delightful they are. As a teenage boy I surely wouldn't have appreciated them.
I'm actually pleased that I hadn't read Pride and Prejudice as a youngster. This newly-founded enthusiasm of mine prompted me to visit the filming locations in England. It was a pilgrimage for 20th anniversary of the filming and 200th anniversary of the book (yes, yes, that anniversary was in 2013 already).
We (my dear wife and me) managed to visit quite a few of the important locations in June.
The Hunsford Parsonage (Teigh Old Rectory) was our starting point. We stayed three nights where the staircase is "neither too steep nor too shallow" and where there are "shelves in the closet". Lizzy's bedroom is located upstairs on the second floor exactly where you see it in the film; still the same colour of paint, but no shelves in that closet (too inconvenient for the guests). The first floor parlour has still got the same wallpaper and it felt like Mr. Darcy had just proposed to Lizzy Bennet there. The proprietor, Mrs Owen was kind enough to light up the fireplace in the parlour for us. Her two cats prefer sitting there, just like Charlotte did; we had some wine and cheese.
Rosings Park (Belton House) is further away from Hunsford than mere a lane, about 20 min drive. While admiring the grandeur of the park you can "mark the windows, there are sixty-four in all. Sixty-four!". The green dining room of Lady Catherine is actually quite unique, there is nothing like that in the rest of the house. You recall Mr. Darcy running up the stairs to the second floor to write that important letter, but his room really is on the first floor (which you can also observe in the film). Darcy's bedroom is truly decorated like that; there is the writing desk and that magnificent canopy bed.
On the way to the Peak District we revisited Chatsworth (we had been there before), because "there was no awkwardness there." Make sure you won't miss it if you ever go to Derbyshire. While exploring the narrow pathways of the Peaks (thanks to gps sat nav) we reached the Roaches and climbed onto the Ramshaw Rocks, famous for the "victory sign" shape of the rock formation. P&P is the only film I've seen them in, however: "Elizabeth, be careful. How could I face your father if you trip and fall?"
Right between Chatsworth and the Ramshaw Rocks there is the charming village of Lambton (Longnor) where "there is two gentlemen and a lady waiting upon you in the parlour."
There is actually no inn on Chapel Street, but you'll find one on High Street. We had supper there.
Pemberley (Lyme Park) is no more than 20 miles from Lambton. We did enjoy the beautiful grounds and I agree that "I don't think I've ever seen a place so happily situated. I like it very well, indeed." Seems like nothing has changed there. I was expecting to see Lizzy and the Gardiners strolling on the lawn and Mr. Darcy appearing behind the bushes at any moment. You can dress up in 1910's clothes during your visit there, but there didn't seem to be any Regency (1810's) apparel available. I don't think Mr. Darcy would have swam in any of the murky ponds, particularly not the one on the northern edge of the grounds.
Naturally we also applied to the housekeeper to see the inside of the place and sighed "of all this I might have been mistress!" The interior of Sudbury Hall fits very well to the book and is much more appropriate a location than Lyme Park would have been (Lyme and Belton are quite pompous). The grand staircase is really grand, as well as the gallery upstairs which displays portraits of wives and mistresses (which you can spot by the depth of their décolleté). The portrait of Mr. Darcy is missing. The furniture of the music room is also missing; a couple of chairs do not a music room make!
You'll find some more pictures of the Pride & Prejudice sights we just visited in my site: https://plus.google.com/photos/103708968441393416987/albums/6030700986465054161?authkey=CLugj676yPSs2wE
There are short captions and location coordinates in each of those pictures, just click on the first one to start the show.
I'd like to recommend buying "The Making of Pride and Prejudice" by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin. It is an absolute must for all P&P95 fans (and it is very cheap).
You might also like to learn that Victoria Owen, the proprietor of Teigh Old Rectory, has got an album of the pictures she took during the filming in their house in June 1994. There are nice off-stage pics of Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth, David Bamber, Lucy Davis, Lucy Scott and Nadia Chambers. That album alone makes it worth your while to stay overnight in there. Not to mention the warm hospitality of Mrs. Owen.
So, what got me finally interested in the Pride and Prejudice?
Well, there are few movies or TV series which I consider worth watching. The original Brideshead Revisited and the Band of Brothers were such. The wonderful BBC miniseries had of course been aired on our TV several times during the past 18 years and I had seen some episodes occasionally, but not all of the series. Ever. Until I watched it on DVD one Saturday night in January and got absolutely hooked. I had to watch the 5 hours of the miniseries in one straight run; I just couldn't stop. Talk about excitement!
You could say I got infatuated with Pride and Prejudice. I fell in love with the book and with the BBC adaptation, the faithful script and the marvellous acting. I also fell in love with Lizzy, her fine eyes and pert opinions.
Having watched the remastered miniseries on blu-ray almost incessantly this spring and having also read the book a few times I just had to make this tour to fulfil the desires of the romantic heart of mine. Believe me, it was worth it. We didn't manage to visit Netherfield (Brocket Hall), Longbourn (Luckington Court) nor Weston-Super-Mare this summer. We must make another trip...
Thanks for sharing the details of your wonderful trip with us, Hannu! To all our other readers-- if you've ever visited the P&P filming locations and would like to tell us about them, please send an email to shelvesinthecloset95[at]gmail[dot]com. We'd love to have you write a guest post, too!