GROOMBRIDGE PLACE (Longbourn, the Bennet family home)
Groombridge Place, near Tunbridge Wells on the border of Kent and East Sussex in Southern England, is anchored by a tranquil moated brick house, set within acres of gardens. Although a dwelling was first built on the site around the year 1200, the present house dates from the 1660s, when the first formal gardens were planned with the help of the celebrated horticulturist John Evelyn. Over the years, additions and alterations have been made to the gardens – the unique White Rose garden, the Drunken Garden, and the Knot Garden, among others. The Apostle Walk is now commonly known as the Draughtsman’s Garden, after being used as the key location for Peter Greenaway’s The Draughtsman’s Contract. While the house is a private home, the gardens are open to the public throughout the summer, and as such are visited by 200,000 people annually.
The Pride & Prejudice production was fortunate to request use of the house to stand in as the Bennet family home at a time when the property had changed hands – for only the second time in 400 years. The new owner was persuaded to delay his own plans for interior redecoration until after the Bennets and the film crew had moved on and out. Production designer Sarah Greenwood and her art department were able to transform the house’s interior to late 18th-Century “shabby chic,” and it became the Bennets’ house, Longbourn. Exteriors were also transformed, as Lizzie’s duckboard bridge was built across the moat; windows were changed to match the period portrayed; and a tidy courtyard became a manure-rich refuge for the various farmyard creatures that would eventually find their way to the Bennet family dining table.
BASILDON PARK (Netherfield Park, rented by Mr. Bingley)
Netherfield, the temporary home (near the Bennets’, Longbourn) of the dashing and wealthy Mr. Bingley, is in reality Basildon Park (near Reading, Berks), a magnificent 18th Century Palladian mansion, set in 400 acres of parkland and overlooking the River Thames in Berkshire.
Built between 1776 and 1783, Basildon Park fell into disrepair in the early part of the 20th Century. It was rescued and restored by Lord and Lady Iliffe in the 1950s. The couple restored the house and filled it with important paintings, textiles, and furniture. In 1978, the Iliffes presented the property to the National Trust, along with a large endowment and the collections they had assembled inside. The house and gardens are now open to the public from spring through autumn.
Pride & Prejudice audiences will see the west front and loggia of Basildon Park, as well as the dining room and the Octagon Drawing Room, which overlooks the East Park and has an Italianate ceiling and frieze; however, they will not see the Sutherland Room, named not for Pride & Prejudice actor Donald Sutherland but rather for Graham Sutherland, an artist whose studies were bought by Lord Iliffe and presented to the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, Coventry. Those studies currently in the Sutherland Room are on loan from the Gallery.
BURGHLEY HOUSE (Rosings, the home of Mr. Darcy’s aunt Lady Catherine de Bourg)
For both the exterior and interior of Rosings, the imposing home of the equally imposing Lady Catherine (dowager aunt of Darcy and patron of Mr Collins), the Pride & Prejudice production journeyed to Burghley House, one of the largest homes in England. The house remains in the family whose ancestor, William Cecil Lord Burghley (Chancellor and favorite of Queen Elizabeth I), built it in the mid-16th Century. The main building has not been much altered over the centuries. Many of the Cecil descendants have acquired major works of art and employed artists and craftsmen from Europe to enhance their surroundings. The Heaven Room, used in the film as Lady Catherine’s drawing room, is a stellar example. The 5th Earl, Lord Exeter, commissioned the Italian artist Verrio to paint the wall and ceilings, in addition to the magnificent murals on the walls and ceilings of the staircase (the Hell Staircase) leading to the Heaven Room. Verrio worked at the house for many years, but took to spending his earnings in the George Hotel in nearby Stamford, where the Pride & Prejudice cast stayed during filming. Verrio eventually left Burghley House in disgrace – and in debt to many of the villagers.
Burghley House is now owned by a family trust, and the property is managed by Lady Victoria Leatham (daughter of the Marquis of Exeter, the medal-winning Olympic runner portrayed in the Academy Award-winning film Chariots of Fire by the late actor Ian Charleson, who has an RSC Award named after him which Pride & Prejudice leading man Matthew Macfadyen was nominated for). Lady Victoria appears regularly on the long-running Antiques Roadshow, advising members of the public on the provenance and value of articles that they have brought from their homes.
CHATSWORTH HOUSE (Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s family home)
The largest private country house in England and the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth House is the house used in Pride & Prejudice as the exterior of Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s family home. Jane Austen made mention of Chatsworth in Pride and Prejudice, and the Duchess believes that the author was thinking of Chatsworth (which is in Derbyshire) when describing Pemberley.
Deborah, the Duchess of Devonshire, is one of the renowned “Mitford Girls” (her sisters were writers Nancy and Jessica Mitford, as well as Unity Mitford and Diana Mitford). During WWII, Chatsworth (built in the 17th Century) was occupied by a girls’ boarding school, Penrhos College. 300 pupils and teachers lived and worked there from 1939 until 1946. The house was subsequently reopened to the public, and in 1973 a farmyard and adventure playground were added on. Beginning in 2001, Chatsworth was opened to visitors for the holiday season (from early November until late December).
Within the house, the grand staircase of the Painted Hall (where charitable functions and the children’s Christmas party are held) is where, in >Pride & Prejudice, Lizzie Bennet and the Gardiners (the latter portrayed by Penelope Wilton and Peter Wight) begin their tour of Pemberley. It is within the Sculpture Gallery (so named for the 6th Duke’s having devoted the space to stone and sculpted figures) that Lizzie sees the bust of Mr Darcy – and hears of his fine qualities.
WILTON HOUSE SALISBURY ([also] Pemberley, Mr. Darcy’s family home)
Built in the 16th Century on a site occupied for nearly 800 years prior by a succession of religious communities, Wilton House Salisbury is the family home of the 18th Earl of Pembroke (whose late father, the 17th Earl, was director/producer Henry Herbert). The uniquely designed Double Cube Room is seen in Pride & Prejudice as the drawing room of Mr. Darcy’s family home, where Lizzie is introduced to Darcy’s sister Georgina.
The Double Cube Room, widely recognized as one of the finest surviving examples of 17th Century Palladianism (inspired by the architect Palladio) in England, houses and showcases a collection of family portraits by the 17th-Century artist Sir Anthony van Dyck.
HADDON HALL (The Inn at Lambton)
The Banqueting Hall at Haddon, utilized onscreen in Pride & Prejudice as the dining room at the Lambton Inn, is the essence of a medieval manor from the 14th Century, and would have – as the principal dwelling room – housed 40-50 at that time.
For over 400 years the house, built atop a limestone outcrop and located in Bakewell, Derbyshire, has belonged to the Manners family, and the house and grounds are open to the public. Other feature films that have been shot there include the Working Title production of Elizabeth and the most recent version of Jane Eyre.
TEMPLE OF APOLLO’s Stourhead Gardens (in Stourton, Wilts) were used for the Rosings Garden sequence in which Darcy proposes to Lizzie but is rejected.
ST. GEORGE’S SQUARE (in Stamford, Lincolnshire) is where the (Bennets’ local) Meryton Village scenes were shot.
HUNSFORD (of The Alms House, at the Boughton House Estate in Northamptonshire) was used for scenes of Mr. Collins’ parsonage (adjacent to the film’s Rosings house).
HUNSFORD CHURCH (at St. Peter Brooke, in Rutland) is the church whose interior doubled as Mr. Collins’ church in the film.
PEAK DISTRICT (at Stanage Edge, in Hathersage Moor, Derbyshire) is where Lizzie and the Gardiners tour Derbyshire.