The 1995 BBC/A&E miniseries of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jenniffer Ehle as Jane Austen’s most famous couple Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet is renowned for its period accuracy, sumptuous costuming and stunning locations. Please welcome guest blogger Helen Wilkinson today as she takes us on a tour of the two locations, Lyme Park and Sudbury Hall, used to stand in for Mr. Darcy’s palatial estate Pemberley in the 1995 production.
“Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!” The Narrator, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 43
When location researchers were scouting the British countryside for the perfect house to use as Pemberley in the 1995 Pride & Prejudice film production, they knew this was the house they had to get right.
“Houses on the scale of Pemberley are few and far between. It is supposed to be in Derbyshire which would give it a distinctive northern look, and it has to be very big and set in stunning scenery. Some people think Jane Austen was thinking of Chatsworth as Pemberley, but in fact Chatsworth was referred to in its own right in the novel.” Sam Breckman, P&P 1995 Location Manager
Once the BBC had settled on Lyme Park near Manchester everything looked set to fall into place. But a change of management at Lyme meant that shortly before filming began, the interior was no longer available. So a last-minute search began for an interior that would match Lyme – it had to be a house of the same look, age and feel which wouldn’t jar with viewers. The interior they settled on was miles away at Sudbury Hall, a house that looks very different to Lyme Park from the outside, but had just the elegant interior that Sam Breckman and the production team were looking for. The flow of rooms at Sudbury and the exquisite long gallery provided the marvelous scenes where the house-keeper leads Lizzy and the Gardiners through Mr. Darcy’s home. As the camera follows Lizzy through one elegant room to the next, her heart is melting towards its owner.
“I still haven’t been inside Lyme Park – it would spoil the illusion in my head. Whenever we take people to Lyme I like to believe that the interior is the same as the screen version. In our minds we think we have seen Jennifer Ehle looking out of the windows and seeing the lake – but in fact it’s all down to skilful editing.” Maddy Hall, Production expert & tour guide
For many people, the moment when Lizzy sees Pemberley and its lake is a highlight of the entire series. She is only half-joking when she tells Jane that she fell in love with Darcy when she first saw ‘his beautiful grounds at Pemberley’.
Helen Wilkinson, P and P Tours
P&P Tours visit both locations for Pemberley as part of their tours. Visit their P and P Tours website for further information and booking details.