The weeks leading up to my surgery I was determined to spend as much time outside as possible, making the most of what little ‘proper’ summer I actually had. Long walks, friends visiting, lots of shopping and galleries. The one thing I desperately did want to do though (and have done for a long time), was visit Chatsworth in Derbyshire. Why? Easy. It’s the house and grounds they used as Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice. I was, and am, utterly set on going there, hiking my way through the Peak District and recreating as many scenes as possible. I visualised myself with flowing hair, standing on cliff edges with eyes half closed as the wind whipped my face. Etc. All images were certainly without a cast, airboot or crutches involved. But it was not to be. Instead, I returned to a trusty Buzzfeed article of ways to escape London, and the National Trust website.
Syon Park. I’d seen this Buzzfeed article shortly after it had come out, and Syon Park quickly made it to my #1 must-visit list — mostly because of its idyllic looking conservatory, I have to say. I knew next to nothing about it, aside from that Queen Victoria had once stayed there as a girl. And so, with my long-suffering boyfriend in tow, we set off for the house.
Unfortunately, as my luck would have it, the conservatory was actually closed due to a wedding reception taking place that afternoon, but I did get to a have a good look at the outside of it, and basked in the wild flowers out the front. The house itself, however, almost made up for the disappointment of the conservatory being closed. I have never seen so many portraits in a stately home before, never. It quite honestly rivaled the National Portrait Gallery. The people who worked in the home were absolutely full of information – historical, and on the current duke and his three grown-up children.
The gardens are open seven days a week, 10.30AM-5PM, and the house is open Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, 10AM-5PM. For more information and price lists, their website is here.