Tuesday, January 10, 2012

An intimate view of Lyme Park

Lyme Park, in Cheshire


Lyme Park is one of England's most famous country houses, a popularity no doubt enhanced by the 1995 television production of Pride and Prejudice. That above is, after all, the very pond that co-starred with a half-naked Colin Firth. Don't pretend you don't remember. 

Over the years I've read a fair amount about the history of the house (even visited the grounds long ago) but I've only just learned of Dulcibella Jane Legh, a daughter of the family who owned the house for some 400 years, until it was given to the National Trust in the 1940s. There's not much written of Dulcibella (who went by Sybil), but she was born in 1859 and died in 1960. Quite an accomplishment, yet one outdone by her sister Mabel Maud, who lived to an extraordinary 102.

It seems Sybil never married, but she lived at Lyme for much of her life, and took quite an interest in the arts. She even helped organize several painting exhibitions in London. Her watercolors of Lyme's interiors date to 1898—the year her father died—and are a tender, impressionistic study of the rooms. One can't help but wonder if, at that difficult time, she somehow anticipated the changes ahead and saw a very different future for her family home.


View from the Drawing Room to the Bright Gallery North
The Grand Staircase
Window Bay in the Library
Plant Stand in the Entrance Hall
























The Yellow Bedroom

Reproductions of Sybil's watercolors are available through the National Trust's site (click here) and can be ordered as prints, or even note cards. Now if we could just have more of her story, and perhaps a portrait, too. My curiosity is absolutely piqued.