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My October Travels; Nostell Priory

Nostell Priory

After a very bumpy start, and a trip to the Emergency Dept. we finally managed to set off on our short break to Doncaster in the late afternoon. (Click link if you want to know what happened, http://facebook.com/martineroberts50 )

For this trip, we were staying at a hotel we have often used in the past. But before I share a few picture of that with you, I want to tell you about where we visited.

Although it was a blustery, and sometimes wet day, we decided to go to Nostell Priory. It is a beautiful old house with flagstone floors, high ceilings and plenty of genuine antiques. The site has a history dating back to the 11th century, although it was then priory and not a house.

Now, my pictures may seem a little dark, but so is the house. The shutter and curtains are closed everywhere you go in an effort to preserve these beautiful objects, but if you want to see enhanced ones, just put Nostell Priory into your search engine. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there and would encourage anyone in the area to pay Nostell a visit. If you are a National Trust member it is free.

Nostell Priory is a Palladian house located in Nostell, near Crofton close to Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England. It dates from 1733, and was built for the Winn family on the site of a medieval priory. The Priory and its contents were given to the National Trust in 1953 by the trustees of the estate and Rowland Winn, 3rd Baron St Oswald.

The property was owned by the Gargrave family after being purchased in 1567 by Sir Thomas Gargrave, Speaker of the House of Commons from James Blount, 6th Baron Mountjoy, for £3,560.

           

The estate was purchased in 1654 by the London alderman, Sir Rowland Winn, after the owner was declared bankrupt in 1650. Construction of the present house started in 1733, and the furniture, furnishings and decorations made for the house remain in situ. The Winns were textile merchants in London, George Wynne of Gwydir was appointed Draper to Elizabeth I, his grandson, Sir George Winn was created 1st Baronet of Nostell in 1660 and the family subsequently owed its wealth to the coal under the estate, and later from leasing land in Lincolnshire for the mining of iron ore during the Industrial Revolution.

  Portrait hangs on solid stone walls

The house was built by James Paine for Sir Rowland Winn 4th Bart on the site of a 12th-century priory dedicated to Saint Oswald.  Robert Adam was commissioned to design additional wings, only one of which was completed, and complete the state rooms. Adam added a double staircase to the front of the house, and designed buildings on the estate, including the stable block.

           

On the left is an original photo of the dinning room, while on the right is one I have lightened so you can appreciate the beauty of the room.

Nostell Priory occupies 121 hectares (300 acres) of parkland. Within the grounds and gardens are lakeside walks. The main façade of the house faces east towards a grass vista. Leading to the lake on the west side of the house is the west lawn. The parkland has lakeside and woodland walks, views of the druid’s bridge and walks to the restored Obelisk Lodge through wildflower meadows. The park was purchased from Lord St Oswald by the National Trust with funding from the Heritage Lottery fund. This grant enabled the trust to acquire pictures, books, and furniture from the family.

MONASTIC HISTORY

The priory was a 12th-century Augustinian foundation, dedicated to St Oswald, supported initially by Robert de Lacy of Pontefract, and Thurstan of York. By about 1114, Aldulf, confessor to Henry I of England, was prior of a group of regular canons at Nostell.

Sir John Field, the first Copernican Astronomer of note in England, is believed to have studied at Nostell in his youth under the tutelage of Prior Alured Comwn.

As part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the priory was closed in 1540. After the dissolution the lands of the priory came into the possession of Sir Thomas Gargrave, a High Sheriff of Yorkshire, Speaker of the House of Commons and president of the Council of the North.

 

The sink is made out of wood! The beautiful tiers of the grand staircase.

                 

Drawing room, with one of the pictures lightened.

          

My favourite room in  any old house is the library.

What a delightful library you have at Pemberley, Mr. Darcy!” said Miss Bingley.

“It ought to be good,” he replied, “it has been the work of many generations.”

Hotel

The hotel we stayed at is The Best Western Plus, Mount Pleasant, Doncaster.

It has a mix of rooms, some standard, some executive and some luxury spa rooms. As a semi claustrophobic, we go for one of the middle rate rooms.

       

With and without the added extra of Mr R

        

First, I love this desk and chair. Would it be wrong of me to say I would love one? Secondly, I don’t usually comment on the size of a bathroom, after all they are usually functional whatever the size. But in this picture, I am standing in the double shower. Pretty big, huh!

                

You can clearly see the extra room for lugging your suitcase, but also, behind Mr R is one of a set of doors that block out any noise, even if there is a wedding reception or party going on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corridor furniture is rustic yet functional.

One of the rooms set out for a wedding reception.

We enjoyed a lovely roast pork dinner, followed by an excellent cheese board.

Mr R with what he likes to call his Klingon cheese knife.

And after all that, we spent a quiet hour chatting in one of the private snugs, where we had our coffee and mints.

  

 

Till next time,

Martine x

 

September Giveaway Winner!

Hello everyone,

Just a quick note to say that the winner of my Subscribers September Giveaway has been chosen.

The winner is;

Michele, from Virginia.

Michele has won all these items.

The answer to the question, was Lydia.

Thank you to everyone who entered and better luck next time in the Christmas Subscribers Giveaway.

Till next time

Martine x

 

*~SUBSCRIBERS SEPTEMBER GIVEAWAY~*

Hello everyone,

In celebration of the glorious summer we have had, and as promised to all my loyal followers, it is time to do my;

                                                    Subscribers September Giveaway.

This is what is included;

 

1 x Jane Austen Pen in gift box.

 

These are really hard to get hold of. I replied to 3 email alerts before I was lucky enough to get one.

 1 x Jane Austen £2 coin.   

The coin is legal tender in the UK, but my guess is you will want to keep it. It is new and in mint condition in a protective case.

    1 x Pemberley fridge magnet.

 

1 x Mr Darcy & Elizabeth Bennet Christmas tree ornaments.

 

1 x National Trust lunch bag.

I am also throwing in a postcard from Pemberley and Rosings, (Lyme Park and Belton Woods, P & P 1995)

And for lovers of the 2005 film, I have also included a pin badge of Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. Considering he only smiles a couple of times In the whole entire film, this is a special thing to own.

Plus, hidden in your package will also be a couple of little surprises not in the picture below, (wouldn’t be a surprise otherwise) but I know you will like them.

So, how to enter.

  1. You must be a subscriber to my site.
  2. Answer 1 easy question correctly.
  3. Email me your answer.

Simple!

So, I given the question a lot of thought and have decided to base it on one of my books I think you will have all read, (especially if you came over with me from FanFiction)

It will be from, Mr Darcy’s Proposal. Chapter 16.

Question; What did Miss Bingley find in the blanket box?

So, don’t waste any time. You have a week to get your answer to me.

Please read the T & C below. They are just the normal jargon but by entering I will take it you have read & agreed to them.

Good Luck!

Till next week,

Martine xx

 

Terms & Conditions

  • You must be a subscriber to my site. Giveaway is for subscribers only.
  • No purchase is necessary.
  • The answer MUST be correct.
  • Only ONE entry per person.
  • Only ONE giveaway bundle is on offer.
  • The answer MUST be sent to my email address. (martinejaneroberts.author@gmail.com)
  • Do not post the answer in the comment section, as this will void the giveaway.
  • Email answer must be received by midnight GMT (UK time) Friday 5th October. Any entries received after this date will not be count.
  • One subscriber will be selected at random from all the entries received by an impartial third party.
  • Winner will be notified one day after closing date by email and must confirm their address for delivery of giveaway goodies.
  • Winner must agree to their first name and county/state being published on my sites. Actual address and last name will, of course, be kept strictly private.
  • The items are non-transferable, and there are no cash alternatives to the items mentioned, either in whole or in part.
  • By entering, all eligible entrants agree to abide by each and all these terms and conditions.

 

 

 

 

MY VISIT TO WIMPOLE HALL

 

If you have read any of my previous posts, you would be right in thinking that I have a passion for our grand British buildings. The history, the architecture, the furnishings, the people and of course if there are any secrets to discover, so much the better.

Many of the grand houses around  Britain have become too costly for the families to maintain, and so are gifted to the National Trust. So I guess its no surprise either to know that I am a member of the afore mentioned NT.

Now, on my latest jaunt, I paid a visit to the magnificent Wimpole Hall, (pictured above).

I was impressed by the grand staircase, the number of superb portraits,  the silver centre piece on the dinning table, and how elegant, yet intimate the drawing room looked.

        

 

           Situated 8.1/2 miles from Cambridge, sits on the outskirts of the village of Wimpole. Although the first house was built here in 1540, the village of Wimpole is actually mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1089. At that time, there was a much smaller manor house of only 200 acres and a small deer park to the estate. Close to the great Roman Road, Ermine Street, which has been in use in one form or another for almost 2,000 years.

In 1767 the famous Landscape Architect, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown worked on the grounds, giving it the natural look we see today. However, they have retained a small area that is still laid out as formal flower beds. I like this mix, as you get the best of both worlds.

        

Charles Bridgeman, who had formerly worked on the ground design in the 1720’s, is best known for constructing the formal grand avenue, that sweeps away from the south front of the house for almost two and a half miles.

If you look really, really hard, you may just about make out Wimpole Hall standing in the distance.

Now, of course my very favourite rooms were the library’s. Yes, not one, but two beautiful rooms full of books, from floor to ceiling.

          

On 27 October 1843, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited the hall. They listened to speeches by local politicians including the Earl of Hardwicke, and dinner was served for 26 people. A grand ball was held in the evening to celebrate the occasion.

On 28 October 1843, Her Majesty visited the farm in the morning before departing for London. A portrait of the young queen was commissioned in honour of this visit.

      

Now, as a person of faith, I could not help but be impressed by Wimpole Hall’s private chapel. It is quite possibly, besides the Sistine chapel which I have visited several times while in Vatican City, the best I have seen. The stunning artwork is worth a visit alone. Another unusual feature is the balcony.

I love it when you discover something you were not expecting, some little secret, and Wimpole Hall does not disappoint. Tucked away is what you could only describe an splendid plunge pool. Plunge pools were first seen in Britain with the Roman conquest, but here we have a fully tiled room with a wonderful large plunge pool. Lovely!

      

Another fashion that we see at Wimpole Hall is the growing trend for recording your artwork, hopefully by some of the old masters.  You would have an artist come into your home, and paint a picture of you sitting amongst your gathered treasures. This is exactly what we see here.

The entrance hall, grand salon, bedrooms are equally sumptuous, decorated and furnished to the highest standard of the day.

       

      

And of course, no wealthy family could have lived in their grand house without the hard working, faithful, and loyal servants that made everything run perfectly smooth. Here is a few pictures of below stairs. I have to say that I was surptised that the housekeepers room was larger than the butlers room. Girl Power maybe?

                               

Although the house has seen many owners over the years, the last family to occupy it was Captain George Bambridge and his wife Elsie, who incidentally was the daughter of Rudyard Kipling.

Elsie on her wedding day, (left) and her father, Rudyard Kipling.

 

They began renting the estate in 1932 and finally managed to purchase it in 1938 after Elsie’s father died and she came into her inheritance, along with all the royalties from his books.

They used some of the inheritance money to complete the long-needed refurbishment to the house and grounds.

The final chapter of Wimpole as an owner-occupied residence was closed in 1976 when Elsie died, leaving the property to the National Trust

It is a Grade I listed building as are several other structures and buildings on the estate.

I hope you have enjoyed sharing my tour of  Wimpole Hall, and it will inspire you to pay it a visit for yourself.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wimpole-estate

Till next time,

Martine x

A Love Most Ardent: Conclusion.

A.N.

Here is the last chapter and the Epilogue from, A Love Most Ardent.

I was going to post these next week but unforeseen circumstances will see me out of action for a few days.

So, I hope you have enjoyed reading, A Love Most Ardent, and if so, please leave me a comment.

Martine xx

 

Chapter Thirty

 

Darcy anxiously tore open the missive he had just received from Mr Bennet. It was brief and to the point.

Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy,

Netherfield Park.

Sir,

I would be obliged if you could call on me

at your earliest convenience.

Your,

Thomas Bennet

There was no clue in the few short lines to tell Darcy if it was to be good news or the very worst of news.

Nevertheless, as soon as he had finished breakfast, he called for his horse to be saddled and rode to Longbourn, both eager and dreading to learn of his fate.

“Come,” Mr Bennet shouted in reply to Darcy’s firm knock.

This time, Darcy had decided, he would not leave for a second day without speaking to Elizabeth. Regardless of her father’s opinion of him, or the decision he had made, at this moment in time he was still officially engaged to Miss Elizabeth.

It was a different picture this morning as he entered the study, for Mr Bennet was sitting at his desk and appeared to be in a more cordial mood.

“Come in, Darcy, sit with me, there is a lot to discuss,” said Mr Bennet, as he waited for the wary young man to sit in the chair opposite him.

“Now,” Mr Bennet stated as he clasped his hands together and rested them on the pile of paperwork laying on his desk. “I cannot deny that your total disregard for the proprieties, or for Elizabeth’s reputation, did not shock me to the core, because it did. However, your apology, along with your willingness to shoulder all the blame, cannot be ignored. Therefore, if you still wish to marry my daughter, I will not object.”

Mr Darcy was shocked at this unexpected declaration by Elizabeth’s father and sat wide-eyed and motionless for a minute or two. As the realisation sank in, that Mr Bennet would still permit him to marry Elizabeth, and with his blessing, he began to effuse.

“I can assure you, sir, you will never have cause to regret your decision today. I will take your concerns to heart and…”

“Mr Darcy,” interrupted Mr Bennet, “I have not yet finished. I am sure you can comprehend my trepidation at the prospect of a long engagement. Clearly, you and Elizabeth have become as close as a man, and a woman can be without the benefit of a minister. As her father, it is a great concern to me.” Mr Bennet paused to study his would-be son-in-law, then said, “Now, I understand you are in possession of a special marriage license?”

Baffled as to how Mr Bennet knew about the license, Darcy merely nodded in the affirmative.

“Good, good,” said a visibly relieved Mr Bennet. “Then I must insist that you use it as soon as the arrangements can be made.”

Mr Bennet gave a little chuckle. Not only was he relieved that there was a solution to this predicament, but also by the shocked expression on Mr Darcy’s face.

“But, sir, what changed your mind? I do not…”

“Honestly,” Mr Bennet said as he rested back in his chair, “I was fighting a losing battle. You see, Elizabeth is determined to have you and you are obviously very much in love with her. You wear your love for Lizzy like a badge, sir. And once Lizzy has set her mind to something, there is no dissuading her.” Darcy felt the heat of his blood rush to stain his cheeks.

Mr Bennet gave a knowing smile and shrugged his shoulders.

“Who am I to shatter young love’s dream? I am not so old that I cannot remember what it is like to feel the heat of passion course through a young man’s veins, sir,” he said with a rueful smile. “Now, get along with you, I am sure somewhere about the house Elizabeth is waiting for you.”

Darcy felt in need of some fresh air and walked out of the house in a daze. When he managed to clear his thoughts and stir himself, he found he was still walking in the garden. Heading towards the back parlour, he thought aloud, “It is done, as simple as that, it is done.” He was to marry Elizabeth as soon as her mother and the Reverend Muir could arrange it. No Banns, no fanfare. A small family wedding in the church adjoining Longbourn, probably followed by a small wedding breakfast.

“What is Mr Darcy doing creeping about the garden Lizzy? He is acting most peculiarly.” Kitty said as she watched her sister’s fiancé slowly walk towards the room they were sitting in. “He appeared to be talking to himself.”

Elizabeth knew he must have been to see her father and stepped through the open French doors and hurried outside to meet him.

“You have spoken to, Papa?” she asked with some urgency.

“I have,” he replied, his mind still unable to take in all that had been said.

“Then Father has told you that we may marry? Are you not happy, Fitzwilliam?”

“I am, of course, I am, but I was convinced, right up to the moment I entered Mr Bennet’s study, that he would refuse his consent. I had even contemplated us eloping!”

“Though I understand your sentiments, I could not have been the second daughter of my parents to elope, sir, not after Lydia. But that is all extraneous now, we are engaged and soon to be married!”

Finally, the reality of the moment roused Darcy from his confused state.

He was to marry Elizabeth!

“We have been fortunate indeed, Elizabeth. But I cannot fathom what changed your father’s mind. Do you know the reason behind his change of heart?”

“Indeed, I do,” Elizabeth said with a smile. “It was all Jane’s doing.”

Elizabeth linked arms with him and gently guided him further around the house.

Eventually, they came to a more substantial part of Longbourn’s gardens, where the manicured lawns were interrupted only by the odd rose or lavender bush and a few scattered trees for shade.

There, standing beside a large patch of lavender, was Jane, looking every inch the gentleman’s daughter. With her wicker trug hanging from one arm and her scissors in the other hand, Jane was cutting some of the lavender stems and placing them in her basket. Her straw bonnet, trimmed with lilac ribbon shielded her face from the morning sun, while the sprigs of purple flowers on her white muslin dress complimented her occupation perfectly.

As they approached, Jane looked up and greeted them warmly.

“Mr Darcy, I see you have found Lizzy.”

“Good Morning, Miss Bennet, I fear Miss Elizabeth found me.”

They exchanged salutes, and then Elizabeth turned to Jane.

“Jane, dearest, explain to Mr Darcy your conversation with father last evening; how you persuaded him to change his mind.”

“Oh, Lizzy, as if I have any control over father’s decision making,” Jane laughed softly.

Placing her scissors and basket on the grass, Jane joined her sister and Mr Darcy as they took a turn around the garden.

“I really would be most interested to discover what convinced Mr Bennet to look favourably upon our union, Miss Bennet?”

Jane did not want thanks or praise for what she had done. Lizzy’s happiness was reward enough. If anything, she was repaying Mr Darcy for reuniting her with her own beau, Mr Bingley.

With her usual modesty, Jane recalled the events of the night before.

She had found her father sitting in his usual chair by the fire, rubbing a hand over his brow. He looked tired.

Jane pulled up the paisley covered poufy, and sat at his side, resting her hands on the leather arm of his chair.

“May I speak with you, Papa?”

“I have worries enough child, do not add to my burden for goodness sake,” he said a little unkindly.

Jane was undeterred so spoke first on another matter.

“I thought you should know that I am of the same opinion as Mr Bingley, father, about moving north to Derbyshire when we marry. I fear Mamma did not take Charles seriously when he said we would not be living at Netherfield Park.”

Mr Bennet patted Jane’s hand.

“Very sensible, my dear. Now, if that is all, I have a lot on my mind at present.”

Jane knew her father was indicating for her to leave, but if she was able to relieve him of at least one of his burdens, then she must stay and try.

“Papa, I have just come from speaking with Lizzy.”

“Have you, now? Then you know the predicament that lies before me?”

“Yes, Papa.”

Jane paused. She must approach the situation with tact and diplomacy.

“Papa, Lizzy loves Mr Darcy, and he clearly adores her.”

“Oh, of that I have no doubt, Jane, but they almost pre-empted, their marriage vows, and that is unforgivable.”

Again, Jane paused. She knew she must not condone what happened between Lizzy and Mr Darcy, for though she was older than her sister, she was just as innocent of the physical side of marriage as any maiden should be. Though Jane did not think Lizzy would have let things go that far without the benefit of a preacher first.

“Is it, Papa?” she asked softly, “Is it really unforgivable to love someone so much that you let your heart rule your head for one, brief, moment?”

He showed no sign that he had heard her question.

Was he even listening to her?

“Forgive me if I speak plainly, father,” she said a little louder, “but if you forbid Lizzy from marrying Mr Darcy, she will only do so when she comes of age in a few months’ time.” Her voice softened again, “You could not bear to be estranged from Lizzy, father. You know it would break your heart.”

Mr Bennet looked at his eldest child. Jane, who saw only the good in everyone, and had come to plead her sister’s case. He smiled ruefully, before saying, “You are quite right, Jane, but what else can I do? I fear I must separate them for now, or at least until the banns have been read. I cannot risk another scandal in the family so soon on the heels of Lydia’s thrown together marriage.”

“But Papa, you do not have too. They can marry within the week if you will give your consent. Mr Darcy has a special license!” she said with quiet enthusiasm.

“No, no, my dear, you are getting confused with Anne De Bourgh. It was Anne who had the special license,” said Mr Bennet in a well-meant yet patronising tone.

“No, Papa,” Jane said firmly, “Mr Darcy has one for him and Lizzy too.”

“Are you sure, Jane?” asked Mr Bennet, now fully alert and staring at her intently.

“Quite sure, Papa,” Jane replied with a small amount of hesitation.

“Did Mr Darcy tell you this?”

“Well, no. But, Fletcher, Mr Darcy’s valet told Mr Hill, and Mr Hill told Mrs Hill who told Cissy. It was Cissy who told me.”

“Oh, Jane,” Mr Bennet said as he began to rub his brow again, “you cannot always believe the servant’s gossip. This man Fletcher was very likely confused with Mrs Galbraith’s license too.”

Jane did not consider herself to be gullible and hoped that she could tell the difference between gossip and fact.

“Will you at least ask Mr Hill, Papa?”

Mr Bennet turned to Jane with a warm smile.

“If it will please you, my dear. First thing tomorrow I will speak to Hill.”

Jane could ask no more of her father, so she gave him a kiss on his tired brow and returned to her room. She had done all that she could, but in her prayers, she would ask that it was enough.

Darcy smiled as Jane finished her narration. Fletcher had always maintained that he was above the other servants in Mr Darcy’s employment, purely because he did not indulge in below stairs gossip and tittle-tattle. Darcy made a mental note to remind Fletcher of this lack of discretion the next time Fletcher scolded one of his fellow servants for gossiping. Though his tease would be a good-natured one. Servants of Fletcher’s calibre were few and far between.

“I cannot thank you enough, Miss Bennet, for your intervention on our behalf,” Darcy said with heartfelt sincerity.

Jane blushed, as she usually did when paid a compliment, but the rosy hue of her cheeks merely enhanced her already beautiful face.

“I thought only to bring you as much joy, Mr Darcy, as you have Mr Bingley and me.”

“You give me too much credit, Miss Bennet. I only speeded up Charles’ return. I am quite convinced, given enough time, he would have come to the same conclusion had I not intervened.”

“Oh, goodness,” said Elizabeth in good humour, “enough of the mutual admiration you have for one another,” Moving between them, she linked arms with them both, saying, “I am getting married, and there is much to do.”

Together, they made their way back to Longbourn and immediately sought out Mrs Bennet, who was more than happy to hear there was to be another wedding after all. Only this time, it would be different. This time, it was one of her daughter’s that was getting married. Not the marriage of two stranger.

Though passable in Mrs Bennet eyes, Lizzy did not have the classic beauty of Jane, and she feared she might end up an old maid after refusing her cousin’s proposal. Yet here she was, engaged to Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley who had ten thousand pounds a year. Good fortune had indeed been kind to smile upon her family so, and Mrs Bennet had never been happier.

 

Epilogue

 

Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy, Elizabeth thought to herself as she lay curled up in the arms of her sleeping husband.

They had been married one whole day and yet so much in her life had changed already.

It had taken her mamma and the Reverend Muir just three days to organise her wedding, and though it was almost a duplicate of Miss De Bourgh and Mr Galbraith’s, she had not minded in the least.

Mrs Bennet and the staff at Longbourn had been a force to reckon with as they assembled a second wedding in a fortnight. The mistress of the house took sole charge of organising the bride’s dress, the bridesmaid’s dresses, the ladies to arrange the floral decoration for the church, the guest list, and finally, the entire wedding breakfast. There was nothing that she did not oversee or approve of personally.

Mr Darcy had put his servants at Darcy House at her disposal, calling on them to ferry supplies from the capital that the local retailers had sold out of, and the kitchens at Netherfield Park had helped prepare the cold food, for their ice house was much bigger than the one at Longbourn.

It seemed that all the invited guests, as well as some uninvited ones, wanted to be present for Elizabeth’s wedding. The opinion of the town was that Elizabeth was by far, the most likeable and friendly of the Bennet sisters.

Colonel Fitzwilliam had arrived back at Netherfield Park with Miss Darcy only the day before the marriage, with Georgiana professing to be more than happy to be a bridesmaid, along with Elizabeth’s sisters.

“It will be such a change to have sisters, Elizabeth,” Georgiana exclaimed.

“Indeed, and now you shall have five,” Elizabeth replied with a warm smile.

Lydia had, of course, made a fuss, insisting that she should be the matron of honour, but as Charlotte had arrived at Lucas Lodge two days before the nuptials, Elizabeth had overridden Lydia and her mamma objections and asked Charlotte to be her matron of honour instead.

“Perhaps, if you are very nice and do as our parents bid you, Jane will ask you to be her matron of honour at her wedding,” Elizabeth had advised her.

Mr Collins had thought it prudent to leave Hunsford as soon as possible after accepting Colonel Fitzwilliam’s kind offer. Lady Catherine had made her displeasure felt quite keenly and ordered him to vacate the parsonage as soon as he could make the necessary arrangements. Though truthfully, Charlotte was feeling homesick and a trifle delicate. She had been unwell almost every morning since discovering she was with child. And, though he was a preacher and ministering to the sick was part of his parochial duties, he had always felt decidedly uncomfortable around people that were unwell, especially when their sickness was violent and unpredictable.

Mr Bingley had been astonished that Darcy should ask him to stand up with him as best man, instead of his cousin Richard. However, he was a proud as a peacock to be at his friend’s side as he married the sister of the woman he loved. And as for Mr Bingley’s sisters and Mr Hurst, they would only know the wedding had taken place when they read the announcement in the London newspapers.

Jane had given herself the job of separating Elizabeth and her mother whenever she deemed it necessary. Every time Mrs Bennet clapped eyes on Elizabeth she went into raptures about how clever Lizzy was to catch a man of Mr Darcy’s calibre, and him with ten thousand pounds a year. She also effused at how Mr Darcy could introduce Elizabeth’s unmarried sisters to other rich gentlemen. Thankfully though, when in the presence of Jane, Mrs Bennet remembered to curb her tongue sufficiently enough for Lizzy to remain calm.

Mr Bennet, now wholly reconciled with losing Lizzy to Mr Darcy, took every opportunity to spend some time alone with Elizabeth. He knew that all too soon, another would become the most important man in her life, and though it was the way of the world, he did not relish life at Longbourn without at least one of his sensible daughters to talk to.

Colonel Fitzwilliam had been happy to take a backwards step and let Bingley stand up with Darcy. Knowing how vengeful his aunt could be when thwarted, Richard had discreetly dispatched two of his best surveillance officers to keep an eye on Lady Catherine’s movements. If she intended to try and disrupt Darcy’s wedding as she had Anne’s, he had no intention of being caught unprepared. Though having received word from his men that she appeared to remain at Rosings, Richard was taking no chances. He stationed himself at the church door, vigilantly checking all who entered.

Elizabeth looked beautiful as she walked up the aisle on her father’s arm, from her white gown embroidered with satin knots of pink, to the red rosebuds woven into her perfectly dressed hair. No-one would think the wedding had not taken months to plan. Everything was perfect.

Darcy, resplendent in his cream trousers, navy tailcoat, and silver embroidered waistcoat, could not help but turn and watch as his bride walked up the aisle. So often he had imagined this day would never come, and now that it had, he did not want to take his eyes off her for one second.

“Dearly beloved, we gathered together here in the sight of God,

and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man

and this Woman, in Holy Matrimony…”

Reverend Muir had said with trepidation as he stood in front of the congregation. Though he had conducted many marriages, he had not felt this nervous since he had been ordained. Thankfully, there were no objections, no interruptions as the couple were finally joined in holy matrimony.

From that moment, everyone in the congregation, and especially the bride and groom, breathed a sigh of relief. Before she knew it, Elizabeth was married, had partaken of a delicious wedding breakfast, and then dutifully thanked everyone for their good wishes. However, now she was in the carriage and on the way to Darcy House, her focus was on the man sitting beside; her husband.

With his arm possessively slung over Elizabeth’s hip, and his hand rested on her stomach, Darcy had slipped into a contented sleep. Only then, as he lost consciousness did his hold loosen.

Elizabeth shyly snuggled backwards, bringing their bodies closer together, but still, Fitzwilliam did not stir.

Though intimate contact was new to Elizabeth, as Darcy’s body fell slightly away from her own, she felt robbed of his touch as their bodies separated.

Raising herself up on one elbow, she plumped her pillow, trying not to wake him, but her efforts were for nought as he stirred.

“Unless you want me to ravish your delicious body again, Mrs Darcy, I suggest you cease what you are doing and come back to bed,” said his now familiar baritone voice.

Elizabeth peeped over at him.

A broad grin had spread across his mouth and his eyes, though still shut, crinkled at the corners.

Elizabeth proceeded to pound at her pillow. Once…twice…

She let out a squeal of delight as his arm tightened around her waist and he rolled her onto her back.

“You are most distracting, Mrs Darcy,” he said teasingly, “How is a man to sleep when he is sharing his bed with the most beautiful woman in all of Christendom?”

Elizabeth giggled.

Darcy now closed any remaining space between them, then raised himself up onto his elbow and gazed down at her.

Her hair was tousled and spread out over the white cotton pillowcase like a fan, while her lips were ruby in colour and slightly swollen. He must have kissed her a hundred times last night. Yet he knew, even if it were a thousand times, it would not be enough to quench his thirst for her.

“You are really here? In my house…in my bed….in my arms?” he whispered.

Elizabeth stopped laughing and reached up to cup his cheek in her palm.

“I am here, Fitzwilliam, and I am yours, yours forever my love.

Darcy caught her hand in his own and turned it over, then proceeded to place a long, lingering kiss on her upturned palm.

He lowered his head and sought her lips once more – those soft, pliant, lips that she now gave to him openly, willingly, lovingly.

Elizabeth reached up and curled her fingers into his dark locks, pulling him closer to her, seeking his lips with an urgency of her own until there was no denying her.

The moon had risen and set, and now the sun was high in the sky, but still, the lovers did not emerge from their room. Only the empty plates and the occasional squeal of laughter signalled to the servants that the master and his new wife were in residence. A pattern that they came to recognise for many years to come.

THE END

 

Till next time,

Martine xx

 

 

 

Indulging in North & South, UK style

Happy Thursday everyone.

 

Today, I am sharing with you the UK’s version of North & South. Now I know there is a US mini-series called North & South, but, this is a separate series set in the British industrial revolution.

Filmed in 2004, it stars the delectable Richard Armitage (Mr Thornton), as the mill owner, and the beautiful Daniela Denby-Ashe who plays vicars daughter, Miss Hale.

A brief outline.

Set amid the industrial revolution, an elderly vicar who is questioning his faith, moves his family from their idyllic rural vicarage in the south of England, to the industrial cotton mill town of Milton, in the north. The only employment for the majority of the townsfolk, (men, women and children) is to work in one of the dozens of cotton mills in the town, one of which Mr Thornton owns.

There is a real divide between the wealthy mill owners and the poverty and squalor the workers live in. Often more than one family sharing a house of only two rooms, where, vermin, hunger and overcrowding were a way of life.

It also covers the rise of the unions and the first strike action taken by the mill workers.

Margaret’s first impression of John Thornton is one of a brutal mill owner who treats his workers with contempt, while John sees Miss Hale as a spoilt and interfering outsider. Yet their paths often cross. Mr Thornton is trying to improve his education by reading the classics with Margaret’s father. Meanwhile, Miss Hale has befriended a worker, Nicholas Higgins, (played by Downton’s Brendan Coyle)  and his motherless children. They meet when he rescues her from a purse snatcher. Mr Higgins is heavily involved in arranging and promoting the strike action. When Higgins daughter dies, Margaret becomes more involved in the plight of the workers.

The outcome of the strike is the poor are poorer and the mill is having its loan called in by the bank.

The chemistry between them, both on screen and off, is present from their very first meeting. After many meetings at her house and the mill, Mr Thornton proposed to Miss Hale. Sadly for us, Margaret refuses him, and John takes this very badly. He assumes that Margaret thinks as a self-educated northerner, he is not good enough for her. However, this is not so, it is a catalogue of misunderstandings and a family secret that keeps them apart.

After both, Margaret’s parents die, and John is on the brink of losing his mill, fate finally smiles on our lover.

Margaret, now an orphan, moves back to London to live with her aunt again. Having inherited some money from her fathers friend, (who by the way also wanted to marry her himself but realises she loves another) Margaret decides to invest her money in Johns mill and travels to Milton to discuss the proposition with him. Meanwhile, John, thinking Margaret has gone back to her old family home, visits Helstone in the hope of seeing with her. While there, he picks one of the yellow roses he has heard Margaret speak of.

While travelling back to London from Milton, the train makes a quick stop to pick up more passenger. It is then that Margaret sees Mr Thornton sitting on a train going back up to the north. They both step out onto the platform and . . . .

the look of love

 

 

I love this series, and if you have never seen it I highly recommend that you buy the DVD, or watch it on YouTube. Richard and Daniela both give believable and entrancing performances throughout each of the four episodes.

Mr Thornton has been named as the Mr Darcy of the north, and on this performance I can truly believe it.

Elizabeth Gaskell is a later version of Jane Austen, but her novels are not only set in a different time and place, (modelled on Manchester) but almost a different world. They are grittier and sometimes thought provoking, but without her, there would be no Mr Thornton to swoon over.

Happy weekend

Martine xx

A Love Most Ardent; Chapter 29

 

A.N.

Here we are with almost the final visit to A Love Most Ardent.

I have really enjoyed sharing the last several chapter with all my blog friends and hope that when we do reach the Epilogue, you will continue to join me as I share my thoughts, books, giveaways and posts.

M x

 

 

Chapter Twenty-Nine

 

When Darcy returned to Netherfield, the young stable lad lay asleep in the corner of the tack room, so, he unsaddled his horse and brushed Nelson down himself. Having bedded down his favourite steed for the night, Darcy made his way back to the house and his room.

He was not surprised to find Fletcher had waited up for him.

“Good evening, sir. I have taken the liberty of procuring a decanter of brandy for you. Even summer excursions in the moonlight can cause one to catch a chill,” Fletcher said without any hint of sarcasm.

“Thank you, Fletcher. I can tend to myself now.”

“Of course, sir,” Fletcher replied, but he remained in the room, tidying up this and moving that. From previous experience, Fletcher knew his master needed to unburden himself, and rightly or wrongly, he looked on Mr Darcy as the son he might have had.

As Fletcher anticipated, Mr Darcy soon began to relay the details of his disastrous evening.

“I’ve made a mess of things, Fletcher, and now there is a real risk that Mr Bennet will withdraw his consent and forbid me to marry his daughter.”

“Yes, sir. There is always the risk of that.” Fletcher said without emotion. “However, if the young lady returns your affections, as you now believe, I understand she will be of age in a few months’ time and will no longer require her father’s permission to marry.”

Fletcher was right, Elizabeth would be one and twenty in four months’ time. Once she had reached her majority, she would no longer need her father’s consent, but Darcy knew Elizabeth would not get married without her father’s blessing.

“Then, sir, as I see it, you have two options,” Fletcher said, and then proceeded to give his opinion whether Darcy wanted to hear it or not. “You could profess how sincerely sorry you are for your momentary lack of control, explaining that for one mad minute, you let your heart rule your head, thus throwing yourself on the father’s mercy, or,”

“Or…” Darcy waited.

“Or you and the young lady could elope. It seems to be quite the fashion. Good night, sir.” And with his parting words still ringing in Darcy’s ears, Fletcher left the room.

“Elope!” Darcy scoffed, pouring himself a long draught of brandy. He had already been involved in two elopements in the past month, and that was quite sufficient for one lifetime!

Darcy sipped the amber liquid, pausing to give Fletcher’s remark more thought. Maybe, just maybe, it was an option.

Though Darcy had wanted to speak to Elizabeth before he saw her father, he did not look for her. If Mr Bennet was to revoke his permission for them to marry, it was best he did not see Elizabeth at present. Though that did not mean he would give up. Defiantly, Darcy thought Elizabeth would be his wife.

Standing before the study door, Darcy almost jumped when Mr Bennet barked, ‘come in’ in answer to Darcy’s knock.

Opening the door, he quickly surveyed the room and spied Mr Bennet standing by the window which looked out over the front of the house. His hands were clasped behind his back, and his shoulders were squared and firm. His overall appearance screamed of his anger and disdain towards Darcy.

This must have been from where he saw them last night.

“Sit if you will,” Mr Bennet said as he turned to face his caller.

“I prefer to stand, thank you, sir,” Darcy replied, though he did rest his hands on the back of the offered chair. He could not strike his usual pose for fear of offending Mr Bennet. It had been mentioned to him only recently that his regular stance gave him the appearance of being bored or of having an air of supercilious detachment for whomever he was conversing with.

“You can be at no loss as to why I asked you here, Darcy,” said Mr Bennet, dispensing with his usual form of formal address when conversing with Mr Darcy.

“I am not, sir.”

“Then you must also know that I am not to be trifled with. I demand an explanation and do not try to fob me off with lies and concealment.”

It had been many years since Darcy had been spoken to in such a manner. His name, wealth, reputation, and standing in society meant that he was usually treated with respect and admiration. Some might even treat him with a form of reverence; Mr Collins being a prime example.

Shifting his weight from one foot to the other, Darcy repeated the speech he had devised and rehearsed all last night and again this morning.

“Sir, I am entirely to blame for the shameful breach of propriety in the early hours of this morning. Miss Elizabeth is in no way responsible. I wrote her a short note but lacked the courage to give it to her in person. That was why I was journeyed to Longbourn at such a time. Unfortunately, Miss Elizabeth was still awake and observed me as I checked that the house was in darkness. I only intended to deliver the missive and then leave, but circumstances and emotions overtook us.”

“Overtook you!” exclaimed Mr Bennet. “You are not some greenhorn in short trousers, sir!” Mr Bennet said forcefully before resting his hands on his desk to reprimand Darcy further, “You, sir,” he hissed, “are a man of the world, a world that my Lizzy has no experience of. Do not suppose me ignorant of the wants and desires of a man in his prime.”

His words were harsh and deserved.

In response to Mr Bennet’s accusation Darcy’s pride resurfaced.

At no time was his intention to despoil Elizabeth.

“You accuse me unjustly, sir. I was in perfect control of my loins the entire time. It was merely a kiss, sir, nothing more.”

At Darcy’s reply, Mr Bennet walked around the desk that divided them and stood before him.

“I suspect my arrival was the reason for that, sir, not your self-control!”

Darcy was affronted to think Mr Bennet imagined him unable to control himself. As lovely as Elizabeth was, and as much as he wanted to make love to her, he had no intention of doing so until they were in their marital bed. Only Fletcher’s advice saw him tone down his reply.

“I can only offer you, and Miss Elizabeth my sincere apologies, sir and assure you, most fervently, that it will never happen again.”

Mr Bennet walked back to the window and stared out at the entrance to his property. He had scarcely been able to believe his eyes as he watched the events of last night unfold.

When Lizzy had left him the previous evening, and the house was finally silent, he stayed in his study to enjoy a quiet drink in peace; something that was often in short supply in this house of females. Sitting in his favourite armchair beside the empty hearth, he had picked up a book and began to read. A full stomach coupled with a glass or two of alcohol soon saw him fall asleep.

At first, he wasn’t sure what had roused him from his slumber, but he was soon to find out. Peering out of his study door, he detected a breeze and an unknown source of light dancing along the corridor, illuminating the floor and walls. Setting out to discover what was afoot, he made his way along the hallway, where he came upon the open front door. He realised it must have been the unbolting of the front door that woke him. Cautiously, he stepped outside to investigate. It was then that he witnessed Elizabeth and Darcy amidst a clandestine rendezvous.

“Mr Bennet, sir?” Darcy said, concerned by the older man’s silence.

“I accept your apology, Mr Darcy, but must ask that you do not speak to Elizabeth until you hear from me.” Mr Bennet’s tone was flat yet commanding.

“But, sir, my apology…” Darcy protested.

“My mind is made up. I will send word to you at Netherfield of my decision. Good day, sir.”

Mr Bennet’s words and dismissal pained Darcy more than anything he could remember, overtaking even the death of his parents. Mr Bennet clearly did not believe him, bringing into doubt his honesty, integrity, and honour. How was he to convince Elizabeth’s father when his opinion of him was so low?

Darcy straightened, turned, and then opened the door. Waiting on the other side, was Elizabeth, her face etched with grief and her eyes damp from crying.

She took a single step forward, fraught at the prospect that he would leave without speaking to her, only for her belief to be true.

Darcy kept his arms rigid by his side as he struggled with his instinct to pull her close and offer her comfort. He would give Mr Bennet no further reason to doubt or distrust him. He pursed his lips together into a thin line, turned, and strode out the front door with not even a backwards glance.

Mr Bennet watched until the angry young man had left Longbourn atop his huge black stallion. Only then did he allow his shoulders to slump. Thomas Bennet felt his age descend upon him like a lead collar. Wearily, he moved from the window and once more sat in his well-worn armchair. He had thought long and hard about the repercussions he could inflict upon Mr Darcy, but it was not in his nature to be a vindictive man. Of course, they must marry, there was no question of it. If he withdrew his consent, they would merely wait the few months until Elizabeth came of age. But he would be estranged from his Lizzy, and that was one step he was not willing to take. If only Darcy could be like Bingley. Now there was a congenial man, a man he could bear with equanimity.

Elizabeth had waited outside her father’s study for almost an hour before finally giving up and returning to her room. He had not sent her, he did not want to see her, and she had neither the stamina nor the inclination to speak to her sisters or mother on the subject, especially not her mother.

Only Jane tried to seek her out, but even she was turned away.

Elizabeth had spent her day wishing and hoping, and regretting and crying, but as evening came, nothing had changed.

The house became silent as its occupants retired for another evening, and still, no-one had seen Elizabeth all day.

Jane had never known her sister to be so downhearted that she remained in her room for an entire day. It pained her to know that Elizabeth was for some reason, so unhappy. All efforts to speak to her had been met with either silence or crying. Unable to settle herself until she had spoken with her sister, Jane crept along the hallway and tapped gently on her door.

“Lizzy, may I come in?” Jane waited some minutes for a reply, but all she heard was the creaking of the house and the occasional hoot of an owl.

Jane turned the door handle and looked in.

Elizabeth was curled up in the window seat, with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. She was still in her day dress, and where some of the pins had fallen out her hair, it was a terrible mess. Her slippers and stockings had been removed and lay discarded in a heap on the floor.

Slowly, Jane approached Elizabeth, careful not to startle her, until eventually she had made it across the room and now stood at Elizabeth’s side.

“Lizzy, I have come to help you get ready for bed,” Jane said softly.

She carefully began to remove the remaining pins from Lizzy’s hair, one at a time. As she tugged the final one out, Elizabeth’s hair cascaded down, covering her shoulders and tumbling down her back.

Jane picked up the hairbrush and gently teased a few strands of hair through the bristles of the brush.

Only now, with the gentle tugging on her scalp, did Elizabeth realise she was no longer alone.

“Jane? How long have you been here?” she asked, turning away from the window. “It’s dark already. What time is it?”

“It’s after eleven, Lizzy. You have been in your room the entire day.”

“Yes,” Elizabeth replied with little emotion.

Jane squeezed herself onto the end of the window seat and spoke with candour.

“What happened last night, Lizzy? I thought I heard you speaking to father, and now you have not ventured out all day, and Father has not moved from his study since breakfast. He has had no dinner or supper, not even a cup of tea.”

Lizzy was grateful that her hair was unpinned. She had an abominable headache from fretting and crying all day. She was exhausted, her eyes were sore, and she just wanted to go to sleep and not wake up until her father had made his decision.

Elizabeth took hold of both her hands in her own, and said, “Oh, Jane, I did the most foolish thing. I’ve ruined everything.”

“Why, Lizzy? What did you do?”

Elizabeth narrated the entire tale to her sister, leaving nothing out.

At first, Jane had been shocked. Meeting a man that was not yet your husband in the dead of night was unthinkable, but to do so in your night clothes was the most shocking thing she had ever heard. Perhaps she would have been less shocked if it had been Lydia, as she considered her something of a wild child. Though Lydia no longer surprised anyone, anymore. But it wasn’t Lydia, it was Elizabeth, and her actions seemed so out of character.

As the minutes ticked by and still Jane said nothing, Elizabeth could bear the suspense no longer.

“You are disappointed in me Jane, do not deny it, it is written on your face.”

“No…well, yes, but it is not an unalterable situation, not yet.”

“I fear it is Jane. Papa has made his opinion of both Mr Darcy and me quite clear. I apologised, Mr Darcy apologised, but father was resolute. We are not to see each other until he has made his final decision.”

“But he had not withdrawn his consent?”

“No, but I am convinced it is only a matter of time…”

“Time?” Jane repeated, more to herself than to Elizabeth. “It’s all a matter of time!” Jane jumped off the bed and headed for the door

“Lizzy, would you mind if I spoke of this to Papa?”

“No, but what is it that you…” Jane had gone, and Elizabeth’s words trailed away as she now sat alone.

Elizabeth could not help thinking Jane’s effort would be in vain. Father was in no mood to listen to reason, or explanations.

Jane made her way downstairs, and though the hour was late, she was not surprised to see a shaft of light coming from under the study door. She gave it a gentle tap and then slipped inside.

“Papa, may I speak with you?”

 

p.s. Only one more chapter and the epilogue to go. But never fear, I have already started on Mr Darcy and Elizabeth’s next adventure. If you have any ideas or want a character or storyline considered, leave me a comment.

Also, please spread the word about my website. Maybe you know a friend or family member who would enjoy a little light entertainment.

Till next time,

Martine xx