Visit to Lyme Park – the ‘home’ of Mr Darcy!

Written by Claire Messenger, Manager, International Training Programme

Lyme Park, home to the Legh family and now owned and managed by the National Trust, sits on the edge of the Peak District National Park.

The 1,400-acre estate consists of a beautiful house, formal gardens and ancient woodland, home to a herd of red deer.  The first record of a house on the site dates back to 1465 but what you see today, started in 16th century, has been adapted and developed over the years as generations of the Legh family have made changes to modernise the house and make their mark.

The beautiful orangery (conservatory) that sits to the side of the house, had a former brewhouse and laundry attached which created the warmth needed for the array of ‘tropical’ plants that would have been housed there.

Exterior photograph of the Orangery

For fans of Jane Austen, English novelist, the exterior of the hall was used as Pemberley, the home of Mr Darcy, in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice and is where Mr Darcy met Miss Bennet following a swim in the lake!!

Photograph of the exterior of Lyme House, trough trees.

As with all National Trust properties, there are so many projects happening and so many things to do and see around the house and gardens.  From trails around the gardens to a lovely play space in the Long Gallery, the ‘things to do’ change with the seasons and help visitors learn more about the stories of the history of the estate.

Photograph of a brick bridge over a stream

I was delighted to learn about the project to restore the Cadmus Tapestries at Lyme. This 17th century tapestry, part of a larger series, three of which are displayed at Lyme, is being restored to its full glory Together these tapestries, tell the mythological story of Prince Cadmus, the founder of the city of Thebes and you can read more about this here

And, as always, the wonderful, knowledgeable volunteers who work through-out the National Trust properties, provided the highlights of the visit.  The stories they shared on Lyme Park, it’s history and it’s collections, were fascinating.

Photograph of the Italian Gardens at Lyme Park

You can view online some of the items that Lyme has in its collection through its catalogue that holds information on approximately three-quarters of a million National Trust objects with more being added daily.

The Sarum Missal

The Sarum Missal at Lyme is the only surviving, largely intact, book of its kind. Printed by William Caxton in Paris 1487, the book is unique in having belonged to one family for over five centuries and represents the changing religious views of the country during that period. The book was in the Legh family’s possession from at least 1503 until the National Trust purchased it in 2008. The Missal has been on display ever since.