Search for Mr Darcy at Chatsworth House

Nikki ParkinsonTravel 40 Comments

I blame Jane Austen.

I blame Mr Darcy.

But mostly I blame Colin Firth.

In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.

My one (touristy) wish when visiting my parents in the UK (they live on the outskirts of Sheffield, just over the border in Derbyshire) was to see Chatsworth House.

I’d love to tell you it was because of its rich heritage dating back to the mid 1600s when one of King Henry VIII’s commissioners in the Reformation, Sir William Cavendish, and his wife Elizabeth (Bess of Hardwick) bought the land to be closer to Bess’ childhood home but I’d be telling a big, fat porkie pie.

See, it’s believed that Chatsworth House was the place on which Jane Austen based her idea of Mr Darcy’s Pemberley residence in Pride and Prejudice. She wrote the novel while staying at nearby Bakewell.

The eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of the valley into which the road into some abruptness wound.”

It was a large, handsome, stone building standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned.

That immediate thought takes me to Colin Firth. And a white shirt. And a drenched Colin Firth emerging from a cold lake with said white shirt very much encasing his chest in a manner that was indeed pleasing on the eye.

Oh, all right. Colin Firth is NOT Mr Darcy.

And the original BBC series in which he starred as Mr Darcy was not filmed at Chatsworth House … but the 2005 movie starring Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley was.

So, it’s a very long bow that brought me here but please allow me to indulge in my imaginary historical romance bubble.


To Chatsworth House we went. It’s about an hour’s drive from Sheffield through part of the beautiful Derbyshire Peak District.

My heart skipped a beat as we drove down the road leading to the house. Chatsworth does indeed hold a commanding position in this lush valley near Baslow.

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

We arrived towards the end of the day – a good move as the crowds had thinned and the sun had come out.

The current Duke and Duchess of Devonshire have continued to bring Chatsworth House to life, building on the work the 11th Duke did when first opening up many of the beautiful and historic rooms on the inside – and the expansive gardens – to the public.

Your ticket price goes to keeping Chatsworth restored and history preserved for many more generations to come. The $28million restoration project started in 2008 and has enabled visitors to experience the estate in a way never seen before.

The Duke and Duchess have a passion for collecting contemporary art and sculpture and as you move through the house, these pieces have been included alongside artefacts dating back centuries. It seems like a strange juxtaposition but it really does work as a way to connect the current with the past.

Let’s start my little photographic tour, shall we … there may even be a Mr Darcy sighting.

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

Inside the house, you might recognise the Painted Hall where Lizzie Bennett and the Gardiners start their tour of Pemberley in the 2005 movie.

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

The detail and level of preservation of the rooms is stunning throughout. History has seemingly been frozen, from the art to the light fixtures, to the textures of fabrics and ornamentation.

Even the primitive beauty tools …

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

It really was like walking around a movie set. I kept having to remind myself to look up – some of the most impressive work was found on the ceiling.

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

The final room was the Sculpture Gallery, as also seen in the movie. Lizzie sees the bust of Mr Darcy and his housekeeper describes his many good qualities. The most stunning piece just as you enter the gallery is the Veiled Vestal Virgin sculpture (1847, Raffaelle Monti) – this also appeared in the movie.

Yorkshire Derbyshire-0023

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

And that bust of Matthew Mcfadyen’s Mr Darcy?

The wax prop made specifically for the movie is now found in the Orangery Shop with a sign attached specifying that it’s not to be kissed.

So I did the next best thing … #selfie

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England, UK

Darcy, or no Darcy, Chatsworth House has a little bit of my heart. I’ll be back. I’d love to stay on one of the properties and spend more time exploring the beautiful gardens.

I might even time a visit to coincide with a special event … Pride and Prejudice Regency Ball, anyone?

For more information about Chatsworth House, visit here.

So tell me, have you visited Chatsworth House? Fallen for any TV or movie incarnations of Mr Darcy?

Comments 40

  1. I love that the Duke and Duchess have mixed the modern and old. The Australian designer Marc Newson’s Lockheed Lounge looks just beautiful next to that bed with the drapery. I love it. Chatsworth House was on my list and now I will make sure I definately go next year!

  2. Nikki, are your parents near Dronfield? I grew up in Dronfield and visited Chatsworth many times. We even camped in the grounds overlooking the house when I was in Girl Guides. Such a lovely Stately Home

  3. Oh I LOVE the BBC mini series. I had it on video and then bought it on DVD. In fact I knew it almost off by heart so when I finally read the book I realised it was mostly word-for-word!

    I would have been looking out for a dripping-wet Colin as well I’m afraid.

    1. Glad you’re with me Deborah … that mini series was very much a firm fave of mine too. I think my parents had the DVD set but not sure they kept them when they moved. Might have to find and re-watch.

  4. Five or six years ago the bust of Mathew Mcfadyens Mr Darcy was actually in the statue gallery in the main house, (as in the movie), it was a wonderful surprise to come across it when doing a Christmas tour of the house!

  5. sounds and looks ab/fab nikki!
    hellooo! but I’m going berserk squealing! looking at PARIS photos! …
    j’a dore! <3
    we stayed not far from there, boulevade de Strasbourg with similar wrought iron work! … gorgeous!
    what's not to love in the city of LOVE! … we walked that city for 4 days!
    I'm sure you have your list of places to see! if you love to eat moules et frites Leon de Bruxelles 63 AVENUE DE CHAMPS ELYSEES so warm and friendly atmosphere for a family! a lovely experience when one is away! everyone was talking to everyone! also hope you can visit the POMPIDOU centre! and just sit at a corner café! a must!
    lots of love m:)X

  6. Thank you Nikki ,all the photos are truly stunning.I love old historical buildings,they are so beautiful,I like the pic of the straightening irons,we can now see how GHDs came about.
    Thank you so very much for sharing with us Nikki Xx

  7. Chatsworth House is high on my wishlist for the links to Pride & Prejudice as well as its own divine beauty. I especially loved references to Bess of Hardwick building and extending it in one of Philippa Gregory’s novels. Bess was a woman before her time. The combination of exquisite architecture, art and stunning countryside looks amazing. How incredible is that veiled sculpture! The skill to make hard marble look so soft and delicate takes my breath away. Loving following your trip x

  8. Beautiful. Imagine if those walls could talk. I love a bit of history! Looks like you are having an amazing holiday, can’t wait to see your Paris photos! 🙂

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