The Peak District National Park is gorgeous and requires way more than one day to explore. I would have liked to spend at least a few days there, but was only able to see one part of it.
Among the places on my “to be visited next time” list are Matlock Bath and the Heights of Abraham, a steep cable car ride over an engineered waterway to a height of 1,111 feet with what must be a gorgeous view of the entire area. I first read about Matlock Bath in Loretta Chase‘s Miss Wonderful and it made me want to visit the area.
The best way to get around is by car, so I rented a small manual transmission car and drove on the “wrong side of the road.” Driving was really fun and a great way to see the countryside at my own pace. I didn’t have the freedom to take a ton of photos as I drove, but it really was a highlight of my trip.
I rented a car in Stoke-on-Trent because I liked the name, because the trains get there regularly, and because it’s large enough to have a car rental agency. I didn’t know at the time, but Stoke-on-Trent is the center of the ceramics industry and home to Wedgwood. I have a delicate blue and white Wedgwood Jasperware ceramic dresser box that my father gave me after a business trip to the UK. Now I know where it was made.
The drive to Chatsworth took about an hour of easy driving from Stoke-on-Trent. There was little traffic and the weather was cold but clear. The scenery got to gorgeous level once we entered the national park boundaries. Unlike national parks in the United States, there are towns and communities within the national park. Still, it gives the feeling of remote, untouched countryside.
Chatsworth House was the setting for Pemberley in Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice. It’s easily one of my most favorite movies. I can’t decide if it’s because of the marvelous cinematography, the beautiful score or the magnetic chemistry between Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen. I think I need to watch it again. For research, of course.
I was very excited to see the real thing. It did not disappoint, although my poor photos don’t capture the full force of its beauty.
My favorite (or should I say favourite?) part was the architecture, like the unexpected cupola above one of the many staircases (the featured photo for this post). The library also looked very cozy, from what I saw. It was not open to the public, so I just got a quick glimpse and this snapshot. Definitely a good place to curl up with a good book.
The house has a large art collection featuring sculpture, paintings, antiquities and ceramics. A large painting of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, as the Faerie Queene from Edmund Spenser‘s poem, is hard to miss in the upstairs hallway.
Also? Someone had a great sense of humor. There is a painting of a horse’s hindquarters hanging in a hallway. I love that someone actually painted this, that it was given to someone, and that they actually displayed it on the wall.
Maybe it was part of a bet. Or maybe a duke behaved like a horse’s ass and it almost lost him the love of his life and he hung the painting to remind himself to never behave like an ass again.
I don’t know the real story, but it’s a great source of inspiration.