Sunday, 8 March 2009

A step back in time

There are times when I think I was born in the wrong era, and most definitely in the wrong class. It's all very well reading about people with big houses, holding wonderful soirees, having my portrait painted by John Singer Sargent or Joshua Reynolds. There are some wonderful houses in literature - Jane Austen has some fantastic examples, as do the Brontes, Henry James, Edwith Wharton and not forgetting some of our more recent authors, Agatha Christie, Evelyn Waugh, Daphne du Maurier and Kazuo Ishiguro - however, none of these compare to those in reality, and sometimes the stories that issue forth from places like Chatsworth are far more intriguing than anything an author could dream up.

Such a place is Cliveden - home of Waldorf and Nancy Astor, and the place where the infamous Profumo affair started. I went to lunch there yesterday (it's now a hotel) and feel that I can only belong in a place like Cliveden.

This is the entrance hall - not your usual setting for hanging your hats - and with Nancy Astor overseeing your every move, in the left hand corner, you wouldn't be cavorting too much.

A view from the upper terrace
This is Nancy Astor's butler - theirs was a volatile relationship, and on one occasion of his giving his notice (a regular occurrence) Nancy replied 'Where are you going to, for I shall follow you there.' Needless to state, he didn't go anywhere.

We sat in the middle window - a wonderful view ...
As can be seen below ....

One day - all this shall be yours*

It is, I think you will agree, beautiful and completely beyond most of our grasps. So it's back to the novels to give us what we want. Which literary mansion would you wish to live in? For my part, I think Dartington Hall, from 'The Remains of the Day' would be perfect!

*What, the curtains? (ten points for telling me where that's from!)


Anna said...

The curtains took me a minute, actually. But now I've got it, I could just sing, sing, sing!!!

Genki said...

I went here two years ago for lunch, and it was beautiful. I also love Chatsworth, what with the Mitford connection, and Georgiana, the Duchess.

galant said...

I don't recall Dartington Hall appearing in The Remains of the Day (and I think I'd recognise it as I live only 5 or 6 miles from Dartington Hall.) The place in Remains of the Day (for external shots) was Dyrham Park, and the internals shots were mainly on Powderham Castle (Devon.) Of course, Dartington Hall might've been in the film ... I just might have blinked and missed it.
Margaret Powling

oxford-reader said...

Anna -- Well done!
Genki -- I Adore Chatsworth - the library there is a bookaholic's dream!
Galant -- Yes, you're right, it's not the real Dartington hall, but I think that's what it's called in the book.

Becca said...

A remarkable place ... I can only imagine how much work it would be to keep it up! Even with dozens of servants! Still, probably worth it. Lovely photos.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

OOh, great question! I think I might choose Manderley. Minus Mrs. Danvers, of course.

Or maybe Mr. Mole's cozy little place.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Oh, and I forgot about the curtains. Monty Python?

oxford-reader said...

Becca -- yes you'd probably need a lot of money just to keep it up, never mind having a good time in it!
Pamela -- oh, I don't know, I quite fancy the idea of a Mrs Danvers about the place! And yes, it was Monty Python!