Jessie Lewis's Darcy House - London
Darcy House is a mid-eighteenth century mansion, built in the late Palladian style in the fashionable district of Mayfair. It was purchased by Fitzwilliam Darcy’s great grandfather, Tobias Darcy, and shares its place on one of the busiest roads in London with several other prestigious homes, including Devonshire and Burlington Houses. Though smaller than those vast mansions, Darcy House wants for neither elegance nor grandeur, having more than enough of both to make an impression on the notoriously difficult-to-impress Elizabeth Bennet of Hertfordshire.
When their conveyance pulled into a gated courtyard mere minutes after leaving Bond Street, Elizabeth was rather too busy teasing Darcy for insisting they ride in it at all to straight away notice the house. It was only as he handed her down from the carriage and whispered ‘welcome home’ in her ear that the magnitude of the moment crashed upon her. This was henceforth to be her home! Tardily appreciating the significance of the house being large enough to warrant its own gated courtyard, she looked up.
Oh, my word!
Elizabeth by no means considered herself mercenary, yet she challenged any person to be unmoved by the prospect of living in such a place. Set back from the main thoroughfare, the edifice rose three floors from the ground with additional attic rooms just visible above the parapet and was no less than seven bays wide.
She had, of course, been told the house was situated on Piccadilly, but had thought little of it, other than to ponder what would be her proximity to Jane, whose London home was in a newer part of Town. She had also admired, as they passed it, the palatial splendour of Devonshire House and had assumed Darcy House would appear modest by comparison—and indeed, so it did. Nevertheless, she had not expected it to be larger than Longbourn.
She inhaled sharply, teetering precariously on the brink of trepidation, but a sideways glance at Darcy was all she required to restore her courage. Never would bricks and mortar intimidate her whilst she inhabited them with this dear man.
“It is an exceedingly handsome house,” she told him. “I like it very well indeed.” She fancied she could guess the reason he stifled his smile, observably attempting not to appear too pleased. She stepped closer and placed a hand on his arm. “You have every reason to be proud of it.”
Nothing he showed her of the house thereafter pleased her half so well as the delight that overspread his countenance as he did so.
- A small ruin abuts the back wall of the house, overlooking the garden. The knee-height, moss-encrusted walls are the remains of an orangery, which burned down in a small fire and was never rebuilt. Darcy’s grandmother (mistress of the house at the time) arranged for the area to be transformed into a quaint seating area, ornamented with potted plants and seasonal flowers.
- There is a purpose-built fencing parlour in the west end of the basement rooms.
- There is a spy hole in a private family antechamber that looks over the ballroom.
- The house is exceptionally warm and has, as a result, been known to harbour some rather sizeable house spiders.
The fictional setting is Regency London. The actual building is also in London.
Property Name: Cambridge House. Also known at various other times as Egremont House and Cholmondeley House. During it’s time as the base for the Naval and Military Club, it was colloquially known as The In and Out Club because of the prominent signs on each of the gates to the courtyard.
Location: 94 Piccadilly, London
Built: 1756–1761 by Charles Wyndham, 2nd Earl of Egremont
Architectural Style: Late Palladian
Fun Fact: This house has been bought by the Reuben Brothers who are planning to renovate it, keeping it as a single residence with a swimming pool in the basement. Definitely a home worthy of Mr Darcy! Check out this link for a fascinating video tour of the inside of the house as it is now: http://www.reubenbrothers.com/inside-the-in-and-out-club-exclusive-unseen-footage/