And of this place, I might have been Mistress

"And of this place," thought she, "I might have been mistress."

This was the musing of one Miss Elizabeth Bennet as she toured the grand house of Pemberley. Words in italics are direct quotes from Pride and Prejudice.

Pemberley is the ancestral home of the Darcy Family and includes a great house and large estate in Derbyshire. Based on Darcy’s and Mrs. Gardiner’s recollections, Pemberley’s closest town is Lambton. However, it must also be close to Bakewell as that’s where Lizzy and the Gardiners vacationed immediately prior.

Not really Pemberley, but we can pretend

 Architecture and Decor

There is a great hall, where the tour begins and has at least one door that leads to the river. As Elizabeth tours the house, we’re told of the dining room “It was a large, well-proportioned room, handsomely fitted up. Elizabeth, after slightly surveying it, went to a window to enjoy its prospect"

Somewhere on the first floor is a room with miniatures over the mantle, one of which features a young George Wickham. In the next room is Georgiana’s new instrument. 

 When Elizabeth returns with her aunt as a caller to Pemberley, they are shown into the “saloon, whose northern aspect rendered it delightful for summer. Its windows opening to the ground, admitted a most refreshing view of the high woody hills behind the house, and of the beautiful oaks and Spanish chestnuts which were scattered over the intermediate lawn.”

 During the tour, the housekeeper, Mrs. Reynolds, takes Elizabeth and the Gardiners up the "great staircase" which leads to a "spacious lobby" above. From that area, they proceed into "a very pretty sitting room, lately fitted up with greater elegance and lightness than the apartments below; and were informed that it was but just done to give pleasure to Miss Darcy, who had taken a liking to the room when last at Pemberley."

Of importance to the novel is the Pemberley portrait gallery, where we are told there were many family portraits, but they could have little to fix the attention of a stranger. Elizabeth walked in quest of the only face whose features would be known to her. At last, it arrested her—and she beheld a striking resemblance to Mr. Darcy, with such a smile over the face as she remembered to have sometimes seen when he looked at her.

 Mrs. Reynolds goes on to explain that the portrait was taken during his father's lifetime, telling us that sitting for one’s portrait is likely a rite of passage for young people in the Darcy household.

 The narrator does tell us that "two or three of the principal bedrooms" are a part of the public tour, and seen by Elizabeth and the Gardiners. Given the period, it's likely that these rooms are guest bedrooms, noteworthy for visits by royalty or similar.

 In a more general sense, the narrator, speaking from Elizabeth's point-of-view, says "The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of its proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less of splendor, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings.”


Park, Gardens, and Land

Coming from Lambton and on approach to the house, travelers drive through Pemberley Woods and turn at the lodge. We’re told that as Elizabeth and the Gardiners approached, they gradually ascended for half a mile and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with 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. 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.

 We know the road to the stables wraps behind the house. 

They entered the woods, and bidding adieu to the river for a while, ascended some of the higher grounds; when, in spots where the opening of the trees gave the eye power to wander, were many charming views of the valley, the opposite hills, with the long range of woods overspreading many, and occasionally part of the stream. Mr. Gardiner wished to go around the whole park but feared it might be beyond a walk. With a triumphant smile, they were told that it was ten miles around. It settled the matter, and they pursued the accustomed circuit; which brought them again, after some time, in a descent among hanging woods, to the edge of the water, and one of its narrowest parts. They crossed it by a simple bridge, in character with the general air of the scene; it was a spot less adorned than any they had yet visited; and the valley, here contracted into a glen, allowed room only for the stream, and a narrow walk amidst the rough coppice-wood which bordered it. Elizabeth longed to explore its windings; but when they had crossed the bridge, and perceived their distance from the house, Mrs. Gardiner, who was not a great walker, could go no farther, and thought only of returning to the carriage as quickly as possible. Her niece was, therefore, obliged to submit, and they took their way towards the house on the opposite side of the river, in the nearest direction. Still, their progress was slow, for Mr. Gardiner, though seldom able to indulge the taste, was very fond of fishing. He was so much engaged in watching the occasional appearance of some trout in the water and talking to the man about them, that he advanced but little.

 Elizabeth spends quite a bit of time admiring the estate from the inside of the house, suggesting that it is beautiful and that the windows are ample.


Well... Pemberley was quite the manor. Too bad it is a fictional house. I would love to tour Pemberley, which I can, if only in my dreams and through the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice...

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