Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Notes from [Another] Country - Jane and Jane

It is now June. June inspires summer thoughts. Summer thoughts encourage me to dream of lush old fashioned flower gardens. These gardens remind me of England. And England, among other things hails thoughts of Shakespeare, Austen and Bronte. In this case, Jane and Jane. Let me illustrate - Cashmere and Chicken Coops style.

 We stayed at this hotel for a week. It was home base to branch out and see the sights in the surrounding areas. This is the oldest Marriott in the world! It's actually the Breadsall Priory that Marriott owns presently.  In the town of Breadsall, in the district of Derbyshire. This has been around since the 13th century. It was the perfect place to take jaunts to see some of manors and gardens on my list. 

This is a better picture. Not bad, eh?

In our room every afternoon were ingredients for afternoon tea in true British style. We chose a room in the oldest part of the hotel. You could only take the elevator so far. The remainder of the trek was remote back stairways and narrow doors up to a step down room overlooking an ancient bell tower.

Included on the grounds was a pond complete with fountain,

And  a more intimate lily pond ...

surrounded by a small private forest

This was all secretly important to me because it nurtured my vision of living like Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte's characters. Namely Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. I've read the books as well as seeing nearly every version of both films and miniseries. The ones I know of anyway. So my plan, knowing I was going to be in this part of the country was to visit the filming locations of two of my favorite. Staying in this medieval castle-like environment was conducive to immersing myself and my daughters in  a little literary diversion. So - I made us read. Yes I do that. (I haven't told you about my family book club I created that included Key West and The Old Man and The Sea by Hemmingway...I know I'm weird)
We stopped at a cozy ancient looking book store in London and chose some books. I picked Jane Eyre, and my daughters chose Mansfield Park and Pride and Prejudice. We would take daily walks down to the forest after a substantial traditional English breakfast and read a little. You see my plan was to read the books watch some of the movies and go see the film locations. And we did that. We would watch a few scenes from Jane Eyre and the next day we were in the very rooms where they filmed. That was special.

 My two choices were the Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen, because it was filmed nearby at Chatsworth manor and Haddon Hall, and one of my favorite versions,

and the 2006 BBC miniseries version of Jane Eyre because it was filmed at Haddon Hall and happens to be one of my current favorite versions. 
And here's where my Cashmere and Chicken Coops perspective comes in. So you know Cashmere is the city me and Chicken Coops is the country me. I thought this little "Jane and Jane" jaunt fit this perfectly because Jane Austen's P and P highlights wonderfully the difference between city living and country living. More to the point, in those days the difference between well to do families and mere country folk, and the lifestyles and homes of the two. Jane Eyre does the same in a somewhat darker, more stark fashion. Moving forward. On two of our days we did venture out onto the narrow, twisting, turning, Disneylandish roads of the English Countryside...and to carry us on on journey??

Ha. I wish. Definitely the Chicken Coops version. 

These being modern times, we had the Cashmere version. Off we went. 

This was me when I first came upon the grounds of Chatsworth and realized I was seeing my first English manor.

 I cried here while ducks and ducklings paddled by.

The grounds were spectacular

The gardens - vegetable, rose, lupin, perennial, mazes, etc - astounding

Everything was perfectly manicured

I recognized many of the rooms from "Pemberley" as this was the home of Darcy in the movie.

Lizzy descended these stairs while touring Darcy's manor house

And wandered around the statuary room. Which was quite amazing. I wish I had a room like this. 

Oh and of course she admired the statue of Mr Darcy himself . Don't ask who those tourists are trying to get a little too close. ;)

Definitely a manor worthy of Darcy and Elizabeth and worth visiting. It was magical. Definitely falls into the Cashmere category.

For the Jane Eyre part of the trip we visited Haddon Hall. This was the home of Mr Rochester in the 2006 mini series. Haddon Hall was definitely the Chicken Coops version to Chatsworth's Cashmere. 

Where as Chatsworth was opulent, pristine, and oozing wealth, Haddon Hall was - well country. It was medieval, stark, cold, and, in my opinion, absolutely beautiful. I was drawn to it.

The entry courtyard

Haddon Hall from the distance

The kitchen. In a kitchen like this a little vase of flowers mean so much more, don't you think? (My husband admiring a non - cluttered kitchen)

The Banqueting  Hall. A good many scenes from Jane Eyre were filmed in this room. And - bonus! The scene in Pride and Prejudice where Lizzy and her aunt and uncle meet Darcy at Lambton inn? Well this was the room it was filmed in. This room is said to be the one of the finest examples of a medieval hall in England. That's me dreamily trying to absorb the ghosts of all that has transpired in that room since the 12th century... That's a lot to absorb. 

As for the grounds...unpretentious in comparison to Chatsworth, yet one stone wall covered with roses and bordered by 6 foot tall delphiniums and companion plants was worth going to England for. 

The lower back gardens

In the mini series many scenes took place out here, but most of the time the garden was barren to match the mood of most of the story. I preferred the June garden.

Even though it rained some. But hey, we were in England. In June. 

I remember Rochester tearing off across this bridge on his horse.

This was the chapel where Jane and Mr Rochester [almost] said their wedding vows. I tried to make my daughters recreate the scene. Teenagers are so not game to play along...

That sums up movie time and manors for today. These are my favorite versions of two English classics:

Jane Eyre: There are so many versions - earlier and more recent

1. 2006 Masterpiece Theater miniseries version with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens (Most romantic version?)
2. 1983 miniseries version with Timothy Dalton and ...whoever. Come on. It's Timothy Dalton!
3. 1997 tv movie with Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton (I liked her version of Jane Eyre)
4.1996 movie version with William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsbourg (Again two great actors)

As for Pride and Predjudice goes

1. Colin Firth - need I say more???
2. 1940 version with Sir Lawrence Olivier and Greer Garson. (It doesn't get any better than this. Oh wait...COLIN FIRTH!!!)
3.2005 version with Keira Knightly and Matthew MacFadyen (sigh)

And now for some fun modern takes:

4. 2005 Bride and Prejudice with Aishwarya Rai and Martin Henderson (Bollywood - ish version - love it!!!)
5. 2003 Pride and Prejudice with Orlando Seale and Kam Heskin (Cute modern variation about an aspiring writer)
6. 2008 Lost in Austen mini series with Jemima Rooper and Elliot Cowan (about a modern girl in London who walks through a door in the attic and right into the lives of all the characters from P and P. Tell me that's not classic fun times.) Oh here's a bonus pic
Is there a Darcy who doesn't look outstanding emerging from a lake in a white shirt?

And last for now...
7. 2012/2013 Youtube series - yes P and P has gone viral - The Lizzy Bennet Diaries.
Here's a link:The Lizzy Bennet Diaries (This is highly addictive, very creative, well acted, a very modern, different take on P and P. Loved it)

8. Bridget Jones Diaries of course with Rene Zellweger, Hugh Grant, and hmmmm let me think there was another actor who played the Darcy character...ummm.. oh wait COLIN FIRTH!!

I always advise watching any version of Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre with tea and a scone (s) ;)

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” 
― Jane AustenPride and Prejudice

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