Bonnets and Mr Darcy’s Pantaloons: Reflecting on Spirit of Place

Here at the National Trust one of our missions is to put the relationship between people and place at the heart of what we do.

Wishing I was an 18th-Century lady

For me, there is no doubting the inspiration that I have taken from places. My love of seeing historic locations brought to life through good interpretation, re-enactment and fascinating collections led me to study History at a degree level. My decision to volunteer as a House Guide at the stunning Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire was spurred on by a want to immerse myself in the life of a place that had always been special to me, and furthermore, to inspire that same imagination in others.

You would think working for the National Trust might make me impassive towards places of beauty – I do deal with them on some level most days. But since starting my internship almost three months ago I seem to have made the decision to visit a National Trust place most weekends. One visit that particularly stood out was to Stourhead in Wiltshire.

Stourhead  ©Simon Knight

Stourhead ©Simon Knight

Being originally from Suffolk, the National Trust South West is a new discovery, so I had little idea what to expect from Stourhead. But as we walked down the long, zigzag pathway two signposts were revealed, one to the house, one to the gardens, both were still out of sight. I was immediately filled with a childish excitement and a want to explore everything all at once.

We started by heading to the gardens. This meant meandering past the cluster of quaint shops and a National Trust pub – I was sold. As we got closer to the garden entrance I could see the beginnings of an amazing view. And suddenly there it was. Bright, golden autumn leaves and Georgian monuments all placed around a glistening lake.

As we walked around the breathtaking grounds you got the sense that nobody else was there (despite the fact that the whole of Wiltshire was there).

Rambling up a mysterious trail with snippets of poetry scattered along the way we reached an eighteenth-century palladium. Here we met a lovely estate guide who informed us that we were on the exact spot Mr Darcy proposed to Lizzie in Pride and Prejudice; the film version, obviously.

That was all the information I needed. The spirit of Stourhead had unquestionably captured every inch of my imagination. I was, for that moment at least, Lizzie Bennett, living a dream I have had since I first ever saw Colin Firth in that wet, clingy shirt and pantaloons. Just someone please hand me a bonnet!

 By Katie Canning, Media and External Affairs Intern

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One thought on “Bonnets and Mr Darcy’s Pantaloons: Reflecting on Spirit of Place

  1. All the great houses are brought to life if as well as the authentic furnishing the are displays of costumes relevant to the property. I think Stourhead is superb, especially in the autumn. We called in at Anglesey Abbey en-route to the Broads, well worth a visit

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