I've wanted to visit Lyme Park for years and finally made it there this weekend. The largest house in Cheshire, it's probably best known for its appearance as Mr Darcy's Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice. The gift shop is full of Mr Darcy memorabilia but - how shall I put this? - it was all a little tacky, even for me. And I own a heart-shaped, glittery Pope John Paul II keyring. Instead, I came away with a National Trust membership (is this how middle age starts?) and some yummy homemade fudge.
I am totally in love with Lyme Park. I've been to Tatton Hall and Chatsworth several times but I think Lyme's my new favourite. Photography is prohibited inside the house due to the delicate items on show but it's a beautiful, slightly quirky house. The home of the Legh family for many generations until 1946, it's still got a real lived-in feel despite its grandeur and size. There aren't many roped-off areas or displays contained behind glass so even if you can't actually touch anything, you're very aware that you could and it feels much more hands-on and accessible than other stately homes.
The solitary structure of the Cage up on the top of the hill behind the house, previously used as a hunting lodge, is a definite highlight and affords amazing views over the Cheshire Plain and the mountains of the Peak District. It's only open 14 weekends a year and , luckily, was open for our visit. If you don't mind narrow, winding staircases, it's definitely worth climbing to the top for the spectacular views and a small display on the history of the Cage.
The house is surrounded by beautiful parkland and the landscape seems a little more rugged than other stately home grounds. There are miles and miles of walking trails through woods, meadows, gardens and parkland and I'll definitely be back this summer.
and of course, just time for a smoldering Darcy pic...