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Holiday Hotspots: DARCY COUNTY; Derbyshire helps bring Pride & Prejudice to life.


PRIDE And Prejudice hits cinema screens this week - and audiences are likely to be packed in tighter than Mr Darcy's breeches.

Keira Knightley's figure-hugging frocks and Matthew Macfadyen's huge sideburns may get most of the attention, but the film has another star which is no less romantic - the county of Derbyshire.

The stately homes of Chatsworth and Haddon Hall in the north-east of the county provide much of the backdrop for the latest adaptation of Jane Austen's masterpiece.

Hopefully tourists will soon be flocking to the area which was formerly seen as the Gateway to the Peak District, but in which few bothered to stop. My partner Caroline and I spent a wonderful few days in the area where we found the people had a warmth so rarely encountered in London.

Fans of the film will first want to head for Chatsworth, home of the Duke of Devonshire and one of England's greatest stately homes.

In Pride and Prejudice it was Mr Darcy's family home, Pemberley.And as all lovers of Jane Austen know, it is here that the turning point in the plot takes place when Elizabeth Bennett, played by Keira, has a surprise meeting with Darcy (Macfadyen).

Elizabeth says that she fell in love with Darcy on "first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley" - and visiting Chatsworth's 105 acres of garden it is easy to see why.

Among the priceless works of art displayed in the 17th century house, visitors will be amused to see a cheap resin bust of Matthew Macfadyen as Darcy - a film prop rescued when the Pride And Prejudice crew departed. The Duke obviously has a sense of humour.

The lesser-known Haddon Hall, also used extensively in filming, has survived intact since the 1500s.

Its banqueting hall, with a tapestry that belonged to Henry VIII, transforms into the inn at Lambton in the movie, while its dining hall is Elizabeth's bedroom.

But if literary romance is too twee for your taste, the county has plenty of other attractions.

Just a short drive away is the market town of Chesterfield - a vibrant place, full of history and far prettier than I expected.

I was lucky enough to be given a guided tour of its most famous landmark, the crooked spire of St Mary and All Saints Church.

It leans more than nine feet from its centre, and one story claims it is the result of all the best workmen being killed by the plague - leaving only cowboy builders to do a botch job.

Whether or not this is true, the views from the top are fantastic and span four counties on a clear day.

Chesterfield is also home to the man voted among the top three chefs in the world. Nick Buckingham's restaurant has just ONE table - you all share the same dinner that he decides to cook. But it is a wonderful experience well worth forking out for. Also worth a visit is the world-famous Northern Tea Merchants, which has some of the world's rarest and most exotic blends.

The nearby town of Bakewell is the most scenic of those in the White Peak.

A visit to the Bakewell Pudding shop is a must here - folklore says they were created by accident, and they are delicious and make a wonderful gift. (But don't mix up your tarts and puddings - tarts have icing, puddings don't.) And some of the climbs in the nearby hills provide the perfect chance to walk off the calories.

Bolsover also provided a rewarding trip. Its Castle, dating back to the 12th century and rebuilt after the English Civil War, is steeped in history.

The town is also home to Jaquest - a family run food specialist which has won 23 different awards and smokes all its meat and fish on the premises. The smoked salmon was the best I've ever tasted. We returned from Derbyshire refreshed and with wonderful memories of warm welcomes, great food and awe-inspiring walks.

As Austen herself said: "There is no finer county in England than Derbyshire". And if that isn't being prejudiced, what is?

FACTFILE: For more details contact Chesterfield Tourist Information Centre on 01246 345777/8, email or log on to


MAKE the most of the area's culinary delights with a trip to Buckingham's or by bringing back foodie treats from local shop Jaquest for yourself or as gifts.

EXPLORE Chesterfield - its Tourist Information Centre has just been voted the best in Britain so start there. You can't miss it - it's a stone's throw from the Crooked Spire, which is another absolute must.

TAKE your walking boots. Some of the most spectacular walking and hiking territory in Britain is on your doorstep.


AUSTEN TOWERS: Chatsworth doubles as Pemberley in Pride And Prejudice; A FINE ROMANCE: Keira as Elizabeth and Matthew as Darcy; BODICE-SKIPPER: Keira Knightley as Elizabeth; BACKDROP: Haddon Hall was Elizabeth's inn; INSPIRING: Chesterfield's St Mary and All Saints Church
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Sep 11, 2005
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