Linda Beutler's Pemberley - Devonshire Garden
from Mr Darcy's Gardener (WIP)
Situated in the parish of Buckland Monachorum, the original vicarage on The Garden House property was ordered built in 1305. In 1581, through a series of secret dealings, Sir Francis Drake bought Buckland Abbey (an unusual church in that the manor house was built directly onto it), and the hillside vicarage was enlarged to three stories. All that remains of that first building is the tower with its spiral staircase overlooking the foundation, which serves as the structure for the romantic and rather secret sunken garden.
The current home on the site was built in the 1920s and was purchased by Lionel and Katherine Fortescue just after WWII. They had immediate ambitious plans for the garden, and by 1961 had established The Fortescue Garden Trust. The Fortescues are responsible for the extensive plant collections found throughout the garden and the design and restoration of the Sunken Garden.
My History with The Garden House
From the time some I joined the Royal Horticulture Society over 15 years ago (that sounds very grand, but membership is open to anyone, anywhere), I was fascinated by every description and image and article about The Garden House. In 2014, when I began work on Mr Darcy’s Gardener—the only modern JAFF I am ever likely to write—the setting of The Garden House flitted through my mind as the Pemberley garden. After spending the better part of a day there in 2015, it is firmly fixed as I rewrite the manuscript for eventual publication. It has the ideal features, from majestic meadows overlooking Buckland Abbey, to the whimsical Hillside Swirl. No inch of ground is wasted or without purpose.
Mr Darcy’s Gardener
Liz Bennet has been hired by Fitzwilliam Darcy’s head gardener for a special task: whipping into shape and curating the renowned honeysuckle collection started by Darcy’s parents. The goal is to build a new section of the gardens at Pemberley to make the private plant collection public and to attain National Plant Collection status.
The head gardener and his wife treat Liz as a surrogate daughter and believe her to be a perfect fit for Pemberley’s gardens. Unfortunately, to say Darcy and Liz get off on the wrong foot is a rather stupendous understatement. Off on the wrong foot and then constantly underfoot, whether visiting at the head gardener’s cottage on the edge of the Pemberley grounds, or hanging with the locals at the Lambton pub, Liz and Darcy can’t avoid each other.
Why The Garden House?
- Exceptional selection of plants.
- Sweeping vistas combined with intimate garden rooms.
- Historic setting and district.
- Established by a devoted couple with an eye toward posterity.
- Support by a private foundation rather than public funds means stability of the garden program and staffing.
All of these concepts come into play, to say nothing of a reluctant romance, in Mr Darcy’s Gardener. Currently the novel is undergoing revision to address copyright issues with songs mentioned therein, as well as the general fluffing and buffing of the story authors like to do before submitting a manuscript.
Another book? Goodness, what a treat. I do look forward to adding this to my collection as I have read and enjoyed all your others. And inspired by a garden?? Who would have thought? 😂
I love the photos in this post, thank you.
As I said, the only modern I am ever likely to write. I think moderns are much harder to make plausible, but here the points of conflict are Elizabeth being an American, and the thick skin she has developed trying to make it in a predominantly male profession, at least in England. The story is set in 2013, and takes place almost entirely at Pemberley.
Sheila L. Majczan
I remember your book as a WIP and enjoyed reading it. I will look forward to the finished product. The photos are lovely. Love the winding paths and walls.
Sheila, Mr Darcy’s Gardener was posted as a PIP at AHA. I have never yet tried posting a WIP. I think it was posted in 2014. I was supposed to be working on A Will of Iron when this story blind-sided me and poured out first.
What an interesting premise for a story, Linda, and perfect for you! The pictures are beautiful. I’d love to visit this garden.
Thanks, Jan! Yes, there is a lot here drawn from life! Maybe too much? 😉
I’ll take the Cornwall cottage!
I know, right? The tour bus was unmoving, backed up in traffic and there was this cottage, just sitting looking perfect. Had there been a For Sale sign, I’d have been off the bus making inquiries like a shot!
Mr. Darcy’s Gardener makes all of us imagine such a Pemberley, and this set of photos brings it to life. Thanks, Linda!
Thank you, Susan! Lift the whole thing and set it into Derbyshire, and Bob’s your uncle!