‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Applying to the Housekeeper, Country House Tourism in Jane Austen’s Era

“what delight! what felicity! You give me fresh life and vigour. Adieu to disappointment and spleen. What are men to rocks and mountains?” Elizabeth Bennet, Chapter 27

Gentle Readers: in celebration of the ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’ event over the next month, I have asked several of my fellow Jane Austen bloggers to share their knowledge and interest in Austen’s most popular novel. Today, please welcome guest blogger Julie from Austenonly, a Regency history buff and Jane Austen aficionado of the first order.  Her first of two contributions during the event takes us on a similar journey that Elizabeth Bennet and her aunt and uncle Gardiner might have experienced on their tour through Derbyshire touring grand country houses.

Tourism in the United Kingdom, visiting grand country houses and the untamed countryside, developed apace in the 18th century. The diaries of the period reflect this trend containing as they do many, many accounts of visiting differing parts of the country, and of course, the trip that the Gardiners and Elizabeth Bennet make to Derbyshire in Pride and Prejudice is an example of the typical tour that those who could afford to would want to make. Their original destination, The Lakes of Cumberland, Westmoreland and Lancashire, were terribly popular.

The Gardiner’s second choice, Derbyshire, was almost as celebrated.

Why this growth in domestic tourism? First, because of the developments in travel: if you couldn’t “get” to a country house/pleasant vale easily you simply couldn’t visit it. Improved roads-both routes and road surfaces- and the system of posting horse and carriages for hire, made travel easier for those who could afford it.  Secondly, The Grand Tour of Europe, as undertaken by Edward Knight, Jane Austen’s brother, was tourism on a grand lavishly expensive and foreign scale, but it became impossible to complete. The wars with Napoleon curtailed safe travel to Europe to a large extent, and so people turned to touring England and Wales for leisure and educational purposes.

Continue reading on Austenonly

Further reading

Upcoming event posts

Day 09  June 26     Group Read: Chapters 22 – 28
Day 10  June 28     Dancing at the Netherfield Ball
Day 11  June 30      Group Read: Chapters 29 – 35

7 thoughts on “‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: Applying to the Housekeeper, Country House Tourism in Jane Austen’s Era

  1. This post and the link to Julie’s blog are chock full of interesting tidbits. I didn’t know about tickets, but it does make sense. Of course, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on the Continent, this was the one of the few ways for people to view the great art housed in these mansions. Thanks.

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  2. I love all the historical information. It really is a joy to read some detailed information now and then and not just the fluffy stuff. (tho’ I enjoy both). I have always wondered more about visiting the grand homes of the time. What an enjoyable time they must have had.

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  3. Lovely, lovely post! Thanks Laurel Ann and Julie!

    It’s a good thing Mr. Darcy had extremely good aesthetic taste. I don’t think Elizabeth would have fallen for him if she had found the Pemberley grounds gaudy or sorely neglected… even with the sheer size and wealth that the grounds obviously symbolized.

    Fine mind for fine eyes… good match, indeed! =)

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  4. Pingback: ‘Pride and Prejudice without Zombies’: “Enamoured of the Picturesque at a Very Early Age”: William Gilpin and Jane Austen « Austenprose

  5. Thanks so much, Julie, for your insightful posting. If owners of these estates did not charge for tours, what did they get out of it?

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