Last Saturday, two friends and I visited Lyme Hall, about 15 miles away from where I live. It’s what we call a ‘stately home’, dating originally from the 16th century, but added to at various times since then.
It gained a certain kind of notoriety nearly 20 years ago because it was used for the exterior shots of ‘Pemberley’ in the BBC ‘Pride and Prejudice’ series, and especially because this was where Mr. Darcy aka Colin Firth took his plunge into the lake and emerged with the iconic ‘wet shirt’ clinging to his chest that had women everywhere drooling over him!
If you haven’t seen this scene, here it is:
To commemorate this auspicious event, the lake at Lyme now boasts (temporarily) a 12 foot sculpture/statue of Mr. Darcy in the lake – which has received all kinds of criticism. Believe me, it is truly horrendous, but we couldn’t resist having our photo taken with Mr. Darcy in the background!
It was too cold and windy to follow the ‘Pride and Prejudice’ trail through the gardens to see where Darcy met Elizabeth after his swim in the lake, but we did see the courtyard and retraced his steps down the stone stairs, across the courtyard and through the archway. You can see these in the YouTube video above.
There was also a special exhibition about the TV series – and yes, the actual white shirt was there, as well as other costumes worn by Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett, and other members of the cast (sorry, wasn’t allowed to take any photos of these)
We also listened to a 15 minute talk by the woman who had been the manager of the house at the time. She gave a fascinating insight into the negotiations beforehand with the BBC, and then some of the experiences when the film crew and cast were there for seven days, followed by the huge public interest after the Lyme Hall scenes were shown on TV. They had absolutely no idea at the time what the effect would be, let alone that nearly 20 years after the series was first shown on TV, they would still be celebrating the role of the Hall in ‘Pride and Prejudice’.
At the end of our visit (and after we had almost been blown over by the strong winds outside!) we visited the gift shop, and I picked up a book called ‘The Making of Pride and Prejudice’.
I can honestly say it is the best £12.99 (or $23) I have spent in a long time! Not just because it tells the story of the making of the series, which was interesting enough in itself, but also because it gives a wealth of detail about the making of any TV series, with everything from casting and rehearsals, to lighting, sound, properties, and camera work.
Why am I raving about it? Because my current heroine is an actress, who is making a TV series!
I’ve searched online for details about the production process, but never found anything as informative as this. It details everything I could ever want to know about all the people involved in a big production, and even an hour by hour account of one day at a location shoot.
I could not have bought a better book to give me the information I need to add some ‘authentic’ details to my current novel.
So my visit to ‘Pemberley’ was a success in more ways than one – and not least because of all the chat and laughter with my two writer friends, Awen and Carol, of course!
P.S. More about Lyme Hall and 'Pemberley' here, in case you're interested - including the fact that Colin Firth did not actually dive into the lake - and my new 'bible' tells me he had buckets of water thrown over him to provide that 'wet shirt' effect!