Christmas at Lyme Park

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Elizabeth, as they drove along, watched for the first appearance of Pemberley Woods with some perturbation; and when at length they turned in at the lodge, her spirits were in a high flutter.

The park was very large, and contained great variety of ground. They entered it in one of its lowest points, and drove for some time through a beautiful wood stretching over a wide extent.

Elizabeth's mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and admired every remarkable spot and point of view. 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. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

Christmas is and always has been a time for family for me, and while this year is no exception, I’m adding a little bit of adventure to the mix! Done with my first semester as a PhD student and ready to have a bit of fun, my friend Anna and I partook road trip, winding through the Scottish countryside and, eventually, and the English fog. Traveling for two days straight (on my birthday nonetheless!), we made our way down to Winderemere and then, on the next day, stopped at Lyme Park, aka Pemberley in the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice. It was my favourite and definitely most Christmassy part of the trip!

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As is the norm at country houses that are open to the public throughout England, some rooms were sadly closed because of maintenance, but what was open was stunning and as the house was decorated in a very English manner, the festive air could really be felt. It was nice to feel like I was stepping out of the pages of an Austen novel after spending weeks and weeks reading about very different topics!

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Even before entering the main courtyard, a lovely gate gives way to an entry space in which a Christmas tree has been placed and decorated. Once you reached the entrance of the house you are welcomed by a beautiful Christmas scene with an even bigger tree and toys and a roaring fire! Then there were carollers, performing in the beautiful drawing room (which at that point is really packed!). The library was a dream, with dimmed lights and candles (fake ones, thankfully, to avoid a library fire!). 

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Outside, the grounds were foggy and the atmosphere quite gothic – a shocking break from the otherwise Austen atmosphere. Making matters more exciting, the lake from which a very wet Darcy emerges to greet Elizabeth could barely be seen, and the façade looked out of a shot from a historical thriller. It was, however, an interesting change to consider, tying our bleaker reality to our fairy tale love of Austen!

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I was there only a couple of hours but it was enough to enjoy the literary and romantic atmosphere of this wonderful stately home. 

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