Jane Austen Territory

I have one week left of this trip, and it is being spent in a cottage in England’s Peak District. In the village of Bradwell, with horses riding up our street, the area looks like something out of a Jane Austen adaptation.

We had lunch next to Chatsworth today, and then stopped in Bakewell, where Austen allegedly wrote Pride and Prejudice.

This is one part of England I haven’t visited before, and so far it is even prettier than I expected.

Our cottage:

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The view from my bedroom:

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Historical Romance Fans!

When we arrived in England two days ago we were too early to get into our accommodation in York, so – naturally! – time had to be spent visiting the nearest stately home to Leeds airport: Harewood House.

This is not the first stately home I have visited, and not the first I have visited on this trip.

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However, personally, when I read historical fiction I tend to forget just HOW grand the lives of these characters were. Harewood is not the biggest, but it’s the one with royal connections, and the Georgian influences are gorgeous.

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Downhill Demesne

I read and review plenty of books about 18th/19th century aristocrats and their estates (and scandals) on this blog, and yesterday we visited Downhill (or what’s left of it!), which is in County Londonderry in Northern Ireland.

Built by the bizarre English aristocrat Frederick, 4th Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry – yes, he was both – the house is now a ruin, but the Mussenden Temple perched on the cliff at the edge of the estate survives. It is said he kept his mistress there.

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Dunluce Castle

I visited Dunluce Castle yesterday afternoon (and it was free because of a European heritage weekend!). That’s me in the last picture, rushing back to the car when it started pouring rain!

I’ve been to the castle before, but forgot how enormous it is, on the edge of a windy cliff. A few centuries ago some of the castle actually fell into the sea.

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Northern Ireland

We left Belfast yesterday morning, and are now staying in the Antrim coast town of Ballycastle for a few nights. The town is famous for being the place the world’s first telegraph was sent. Robert the Bruce also went into hiding on the island just off the mainland.

We have a three-storey house all to ourselves, overlooking the harbour! You can see Scotland from here.

The view from my bedroom this morning:

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The famous, heritage listed Victorian pub The Crown in Belfast on our last afternoon there:

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Carrickfergus Castle north of Belfast, which is a big fortress with an important history:

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The Antrim Coast route:

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And Ballycastle Harbour:

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Thursday in Belfast

The first full day in Northern Ireland’s capital city. I have been through Belfast a number of times before, but always on the way to somewhere. This is my first proper visit. It is so different to Dublin, but so fascinating.

First: the gorgeous Victorian Catholic church of St Malachy, which was very nearly destroyed by the Nazis in World War Two.

Next: the Titanic museum and the SS Nomadic, which is the only White Star Line vessel that still exists. Titanic was built in Belfast, and was a pride and joy of the city. The museum has won international awards.

Next: the poor historical Primark building, which burnt down last week. There are still major disruptions in the city because the structure might not be sound, and you can still smell the fire in the air.

And then: the oldest tavern in Belfast, where we had lunch today. It is from 1630.

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