Stately Homes for Photographers – Part One

First published on my original blog – October 2013

This is the first in a series of posts featuring stately homes that, I think, offer great potential for photographers. Here I feature just three of my favourites, Chatsworth House, Chirk Castle and Lyme Park. I will provide details of even more historic properties where you can capture great images, in a later post.

Chatsworth House – Derbyshire

Chatworth House - South and East Fronts

Viewed from the gardens are the south and east fronts of Chatsworth House, Derbyshire. The stonework and windows of the south front have recently benefited from a restoration scheme.

Set in beautiful Peak District countryside, Chatsworth House was built between 1687 and 1707, with a north wing added in the 19th century. It must be one of the most popular stately homes in the UK and has appeared in numerous film productions, including Pride and Prejudice (as Pemberley), The Duchess and The Wolfman. Photograph Chatsworth from the gardens, whether from close to the path that skirts the property or from higher up the sloping lawn. You can also capture stunning images of the house reflected in the long Canal Pond, with the formidable Emperor Fountain in the foreground. From a greater distance photograph the house in its surrounding landscape, or include the River Derwent which is crossed by a picturesque bridge. For more photos of Chatsworth visit the Gardens A to H and Historic Buildings galleries on my main website.

Chirk Castle (National Trust), near Wrexham – North Wales

Chirk Castle - Castle, Nymph and Yews

The Marcher fortress of Chirk Castle dates back to 1310. The property’s beautiful gardens are noted for its clipped yews, pictured here.

Built in 1295, Chirk Castle was constructed as part of Edward I’s chain of fortresses that safeguarded his conquests in Wales. Today the property and its surrounding gardens exude peace and tranquillity. A great angle from which to capture an image of the formidable defences is from the path that snakes up to the castle from the car park. Here, below the towers, you can photograph the great walls as they ascend towards the sky – a daunting obstacle to attackers. More peaceful views of the castle can be found from the garden, with its statues and avenue of clipped yews. Here you see it as the stately home it has become, transformed into a genteel residence during centuries of peace. For more images visit the the Chirk Castle Gardens and Castles galleries on my main website.

Lyme Park (National Trust) – Cheshire

Lyme Park and Lake

Reflected in its peaceful lake, Lyme Park is famed as one of the locations used in the popular TV series Pride and Prejudice. It more recently played a starring role in the horror film The Awakening.

Lyme Park, near Disley, Cheshire, again is well known for its role in film and TV productions. In the 1990s it featured as Pemberley in the popular BBC series of Pride and Prejudice, starring Colin Firth. The 2011 film, The Awakening, saw the property portraying a dark and sinister boarding school, the scene of haunting and terrifying events. There’s nothing scary about Lyme Park when you visit – in fact it’s a popular family destination, particularly in the school holidays. Designed in Palladian and Baroque styles, the magnificent house, the largest in Cheshire, is a stunning sight – particularly when seen from across the huge garden pond. It is from here some of the best photographs of the stately home can be taken – whether featuring the pond in the foreground with the main emphasis being the reflections of the house; or using the surrounding trees to frame the shot. Nearer to the property there is great potential for capturing details of the house, including the statues that stand on the roof, seemingly staring down imperiously over the gardens and visitors. More images  can be found in the Lyme Park Gardens and Lyme Park Mansion galleries on my main website.

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