I've wanted to visit Lyme for many years. Last week we had to drive right past the gate on our way to somewhere else, so we grabbed the opportunity! Hopefully, we'll be able to return very soon, because unfortunately we didn't have the time to walk around the gardens, or recreate that iconic photo of the house from the other side of the lake.
Whenever I go into an old house, I always ensure I look up at the ceilings! This time I was struck by the strange symbol that occurred over and over again - of what appeared to be a severed arm holding a pennant! According to legend, prior to the Battle of Crécy in 1346, the English sacked Caen and a French nobleman managed to seize the standard of the Black Prince.
To have lost your standard, before a battle had begun, would have been hugely humiliating for the Prince, but fortunately it was retrieved by Sir Thomas Danyers, who was given the lands where Lyme now stands as a reward. The land was inherited by his granddaughter, Margaret, who married Sir Piers Legh. The land and, later, the house, was then in the Legh family until passed to the National Trust in 1946.
|The Entrance Hall|
The first building on the site was a 15th century hunting lodge. It wasn't until 1570 that a grand Elizabethan house was built. Although that ancient core still exists, in 1725, the house was remodelled in the Italian Renaissance style.
My favourite room was the library. After the family left in 1946, it fell into disrepair and has now been restored. The family's books are stamped with a ram's head crest on their spines.
Wouldn't this bay make a terrific book nook?
|The Library Bay|
The Caxton or Sarum Missal is one of the earliest known printed books that bears the stamp of William Caxton, the father of British printing. It was used for daily prayers, weddings, baptisms and funerals. It survived, largely intact, because it was hidden when King Henry VIII banned it. It wasn't rediscovered until 1874.
|The Caxton or Sarum Missal|
Before we left Lyme, we quickly popped into the garden. There wasn't much time to explore (hopefully, one day we'll come back) but were were able to visit the Orangery, which I loved. In a huge coincidence, the book I'm working on at the moment, has a glass house which looks very similar to this!
|The orangery (right) and the Wyatt Garden|
|Inside the Orangery|
You may recognise Lyme as Mr Darcy's 'Pemberley' from the BBC's adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice! The exterior scenes were filmed here, while the interior scenes were shot at Sudbury Hall.
The BBC's Pride and Prejudice inspired my book, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, which is about the filming of a costume drama, another reason I was keen to visit Lyme!
So I couldn't resist picking up this mug in the giftshop, to much eye-rolling from my husband.
Lyme: National Trust Guidebook
The Making of Price and Prejudice, Sue Birtwistle & Susie Conklin