This Loving Mr. Darcy book tour blog was for Fresh Fiction – I will be guest blogging there again on January 7 for My Dearest Mr. Darcy – and I wrote about my “travels” through Derbyshire with the Darcys. Come along with us and learn a bit of history while you are at it….
Oh how I wish I could share with you all my personal adventures walking and driving over the pastoral hills and valleys of Derbyshire, England. But, alas, that is not the case. Among the many challenges I faced in writing my sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice was the fact that this American girl has never stepped foot in the United Kingdom. Research in all its myriad facets became a way of life as I undertook the task of revealing life as it would have been lived 200 hundred years ago in Regency England. On the top of the list was the necessity to know as much about Derbyshire as I possibly could. This, after all, is where Pemberley is located and the county that the Darcys would have called home for uncounted decades prior. I needed to visualize the landscape, smell the indigenous flowers, hear the rumble of the River Derwent, feel the breeze on my skin, etc.
Thank goodness for the internet with its wealth of maps, photographs, tourist websites, and historical articles. As I examined endless pages, I not only got a firm grip on what the land would have been like two centuries ago, I fell in love with the history. It was then that I decided Darcy was going to take his new wife on a tour of his ancestral shire. While Lizzy and Darcy explore old churches, ruined castles, bustling villages, and grand Manors, the reader goes along for the ride. I endeavored to make it fun and romantic as well as informative.
Derbyshire is located in the east Midlands of England nestled between five other Shires smack in the middle of the island kingdom. Lizzy and Darcy travel through the southern districts surrounding Derby and to the eastern environs in a quartet of chapters that explores the history and landscape of this beautiful shire. In Darcy’s time the county would have been largely pastoral with immense spaces of green emptiness between tiny hamlets. Imagine the beauty and serenity of sedately riding through such a picturesque terrain! Rivers are numerous, cutting through the undulating farmland to the south and rocky mountains to the north. Equally known for her extensive agriculture and mineral quarries, Derbyshire is wildly diverse. Great fun to plot adventures for our loving couple!
A brief historical backdrop: The town Derby, first built as a Roman fort named Derventio, was renamed Northworthy by the Saxons and was part of the Kingdom of Mercia. Somewhere in the 9th century it was changed to Derby. According to the Domesday Book commissioned by William the Norman Conqueror in 1066, Derbyshire already existed by that name and has since. There is some debate as to the origin of Derby, but the general consensus is that it is a derivation of the Dutch and Gaelic name Djura-by, or Deoraby in the Anglo-Saxon, which translated as “Village of the Deer,” so named for the wild red deer that inhabit the region.
Thus you can imagine that the influences of Roman, Saxon, and Norman cultures are plenteous. My love of history inspired me to instill that same passion into William and Elizabeth. Beginning in Derby, the Darcys spend a week leisurely sightseeing and shopping. After nearly depleting a toy store and infant paraphernalia shop, they visit such historic places as Wollaton Hall, Swarkestone Bridge, Calke Abbey, Repton school for boys, Tutbury Castle, Hardwick Hall, Bolsover Castle, and several Saxon-age churches. Along the way they laugh, love, socialize, and experience a few dramatic encounters. Never a dull moment!