J. L. Ashton's Pemberley - Southampton, NY
from A Searing Acquaintance
My Pemberley in A Searing Acquaintance is a beach house located on the so-called Billionaire’s Lane in Southampton, N.Y. Built by Daniel Fitzwilliam in 1925 as the Manhattan-based family’s summer getaway on Long Island, the shingled home sits on two across of beachfront property.
Although two hundred years and an ocean away from the scene in Pride & Prejudice, it is on Pemberley’s lawn that Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy have an unexpected encounter and renew their acquaintance.
“Be right back,” she called out, walking inside in search of a place to wash her hands. When they’d arrived an hour earlier, she hadn’t gone past the front door, and now she stood, head turning and eyes wide, taking in all the stunning, glorious square footage. Past the foyer, there was a huge kitchen, notable for its vintage white cabinetry and gleaming copper pots hanging over a vast island, but made warm and cozy by the fireplace beside the breakfast nook. She kept walking and found herself in a long, window-filled room with deeply cushioned chairs scattered about on colorful rugs, knotty pine bookcases bulging with books, and incredible views of the ocean. Forging on, she entered a powder room and took a moment to collect herself. She washed her face and hands, took a deep breath, and wandered back toward the front door to collect her bag. It was gone. Taken. She swallowed. To my room in his house.
The house features large, airy rooms, a vast kitchen stocked with every piece of cookware imaginable, and a library whose shelves are filled books, including a few written by Elizabeth Bennet Darcy.
Despite its size and large rooms, the house feels like a real and lived-in home, filled with things that have been collected over the years rather than feeling “decorated.” Black-and-white family photos, for example, are not relegated to private rooms. Overall, there is a sense of modern life, with a cozy mix of personal taste and classic design. There are contrasts of light and dark in the house, perhaps a metaphor for Darcy’s family history. The rooms are sophisticated, with neutral colors and furnishings providing a light casualness against the dark elegance of the paintings and art. The furniture too is elegant, but the use of slipcovers conveys a beachy, lived-in feel.
There is whimsy as well. Darcy’s great-grandfather Fitzwilliam was a little eccentric. A big baseball fan, he put nine bedrooms in the house, “one room per player.” The master bedroom features unexplained hidden doorways and a wallsafe, and includes a writing nook set in a large bay window overlooking the ocean. Two of the bedrooms in the south wing are set up dormitory style for what was anticipated to be “a slew of Fitzwilliam grandchildren.”
Darcy’s great-grandmother loved the outdoors and designed the kitchen garden and planted wildflowers and thick fields of lavender across the yards.
The fictional setting and actual setting are in Southampton, NY
About the Real House
Built: The house at 576 Meadow Lane Built was built in 1999.
Pricetag: It sold in 2014 for $41 million in a private deal.
Size: The 7,700 sq.ft. home has 11 bedrooms, 11 baths, a pool.
Land: 1.91 acres of beachfront property on Long Island.
Neighborhood: The Hamptons, on eastern Long Island's South Fork, is a string of seaside communities known as a summer destination for affluent New York City residents. It’s marked by long stretches of beach and an interior of farmland, towns and villages with 18th-century shingle buildings and estates hidden behind tall boxwood hedges.
About My Pemberley
Anne Fitzwilliam inherited the house from her father; her brother and sister were left separate properties in East Hampton and in Manhattan. Anne preferred Pemberley to her husband’s home in London, and during her summers there became friendly with Jerome Wickham. The vast beachfront yard is where Darcy and Elizabeth reunite, and later marry.
Every time they arrived at Pemberley and Elizabeth caught her first glimpse of the gazebo strung with fairy lights and a mostly ineffective bug zapper, she would remember her wedding day. The gazebo didn’t look the same. It was a bit more weather beaten, and instead of buckets of flowers inside, there was always a sand pail or a dump truck, a lost sandal, or an abandoned shell collection waiting to greet her.
Those were the little pieces that fit now, fit the life she and her family lived here at the beach during long, lazy summers. On her first visit to Pemberley, she’d encountered a man she’d met before but hadn’t recognized. On her second visit, she’d been introduced to the very essence of that man, to his goodness and his pain, to his passion and his love. It was like the sand that seemed to settle into every crevice of the house, to collect in her shoes or on the windowsills. Rocks worn down to their essence, to the fine, delicate, soft sand that clung to her as fiercely as her family’s love.