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Walk in Mr Darcy's footsteps
Sudbury Hall (Sudbury, Derbyshire)
Member Name: lellagrace
Sudbury Hall (Sudbury, Derbyshire)
Advantages: A magnificent house with something for everyone
Disadvantages: It is not my house!
SUDBURY HALL in Sudbury, Derbyshire is open from March until October and since 1967, after the death of the 9th Lord Vernon, has been owned by the National Trust.
The house is built in red brick and on the roof is a dome, topped with a golden ball, restored by the NT which as you approach the hall is something of a landmark.
Dating from the late 17th century, Sudbury Hall was built for George Vernon and, as he did not use an architect, its design is somewhat of a mixture of architectural styles. Predominantly Jacobean, but with Classical carvings and plasterwork.
Visitors to the house can wander through the rooms, taking in the Drawing Room, the library, sitting room, dining room, billiard room and kitchen, and walk up the Great Staircase, a very elaborate feature of the house. It is amazing to see how people used to live in such luxury all those years ago, and oh what joy it would be to be able to sit down in the tranquil library and spend an afternoon reading those books!
In the film Pride and Prejudice Mr Darcy was featured walking along the Long Gallery in Sudbury Hall. This gallery extends the entire length of the house and features lots of interesting plasterwork, which has to be seen to be believed.
To appreciate the plasterwork and paintings, the NT recommend visitors not to visit on dull days and photography is not usually allowed in NT properties, so do bear these factors in mind if your sole purpose of the visit is to admire these features.
Sudbury Hall was home to the Vernon family for many years until they moved to Italy in 1839 and rented the house out. It was during this period that Queen Adelaide, the widow of William IV, lived there for about three years. Today her bedroom is known as “The Queen’s Room” and is open to visitors.
Lord and Lady Vernon returned to the house in the 1920’s and undertook a programme of restoration and refurbishment.
The peaceful gardens are set out with terraces and a lake and a castellated Gothic deercote built in 1751 is an elaborate feature. Wildlife have made their homes in the grounds and you may witness this as you stroll around at a leisurely pace. Listen to the birds singing and the gentle rustle of leaves on the trees as you walk around, it is so peaceful, even on a busy afternoon when there are lots of other visitors. Everyone seems to respect the tranquillity.
Sudbury Hall is now also licensed for Civil Wedding ceremonies, an ideal venue for those romantics! The ceremonies take place on certain days in the Saloon and photographs may be taken in other rooms and in the grounds. All of this is not cheap I don’t suppose, but why not splash out if you fancy yourself as Lord and Lady of the Manor on the happiest day of your life!
Children are not forgotten either, and Sudbury Hall is not just another stately home which they may find boring and tedious, because attached to the Hall, in what used to be the Service Wing, is the Museum of Childhood. In here there are toys, dolls, games and books from the 18th century onwards, such as would be found in the nursery of wealthy families. It is very much an interactive hands-on kind of place, not just a museum.
Children can amuse themselves by finding out about Victorian chimney sweeps or how school lessons were taught. The schoolroom is set out with rows of old fashioned desks and those of us old enough to remember the days when children were “seen but not heard” will almost quake at the memories of schooldays when we dared not misbehave! The schoolroom manages to recreate this atmosphere and when we have visited I have often heard children whispering to their parents in hushed tones, that it seems a scary place!
At Sudbury there are lots of activities held at various times, which are suitable for children on family visits or for educational purposes. It is possible to hire the schoolroom for educational parties and experience a Victorian lesson.
There is a gift shop where you can buy postcards, guidebooks etc about Sudbury Hall and other National Trust souvenirs. In the Coach House there is a teashop where you can sip afternoon tea and the children can choose from the children’s menu. The food is good, especially the cakes!
Sudbury Hall has baby changing facilities and you can also hire indoor buggies, slings etc.
Parking is adequate, there is disabled parking and also space for coaches.
This is one of my favourite stately homes, it is situated about half an hour from Derby and Nottingham.
Unfortunately, like so many National Trust properties, it is closed now until Spring or, as NT say “the house is put to bed for the winter.” But do make the effort to visit next year if you get the chance, it is really worth a visit. You can wander round the house, taking in the luxurious furnishings and decoration, then spend some time reminiscing in the Museum of Childhood, before finishing off with a leisurely stroll through the grounds and I guarantee you will enjoy yourselves, especially if the sun is shining and you can sit for a while in the gardens.
I have not mentioned admission prices as they may have changed when the house re-opens in 2007.
Summary: Spend an afternoon seeing how the other half used to live
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