Death Comes to Pemberley

P.D. James wrote the novel and it was adapted for television earlier this year. The main plot is, as the title reveals, a murder. Who did it? And why? Who is that mysterious lady in Lambton? There are many comments and reviews out there, both regarding the book and the adaptation. They are very mixed. Some of you like the plot, some of you don´t. Some of you enjoyed meeting Darcy and Lizzie again, some of you, well, did not. I have not read the book but watched the two part series recently. It is undoubtedly a lavish production with magnificent Chatsworth House with its gardens as the exterior of Pemberley. The interiors were filmed at Castle Howard (also known as “Brideshead”), another stunning palace up North in Yorkshire. This post takes a look at the costumes worn by the gentlemen in the adaptation. I do not intend to comment on the actors and their performances, or the anachronisms seen here and there. The costumes were designed by Marianne Agertoft (Poldark). Many of them were created especially for DCTP, while others were recycled from earlier productions. The story is set in 1803, so we see mainly early Regency fashions and some late Georgian costumes on the older characters. (Penelope Keith as Lady Catherine de Bourgh comes to my mind. We have seen that in other Austen-adaptations.) The costumes are in muted colours and have that “lived in” look. I like that. However I feel they aren´t always grand or varied enough for people living in a place like Pemberley. They are supposed to be members of the landed aristocracy! Mrs. Darcy probably owns several gowns (very nice too) but they all look similar. Some of you out there might even think that the shades of Pemberley are polluted by shabby looking impersonators. But I think we can all agree that there is a lot more publicity shots nowadays, which is good for costume-bloggers like us.

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Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy, played by Matthew Rhys and Anna Maxwell Martin.


Death Comes to Pemberley

The mistress of Pemberley greets her dear papa and mama, the Bennets. Darcy is standing to the right, showing the back of his tailcoat. The footmen are decked out in liveries in what would be the Darcy-colours. It was important to separate family and guests from servants, so the butler and footmen of the Regency era would be dressed in ornate coats, waistcoats, and breeches but in a style that was fashionable several decades earlier. Hence the powdered wigs. Observe Mrs. B:s fancy trunk up on the carriage top.


Death Comes to Pemberley

Stunning publicity still. Georgiana Darcy (Eleanor Tomlinson) out walking with young Henry Alveston (James Norton). Sombre colours. Nice top hat and overcoat. Also nice to see some colour on a Regency lady.


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Mr. Darcy, master of Pemberley. A good example of Regency day-wear, in a “non-costumey” sort of way. Blue single-breasted tailcoat cut in a soft curve at the front. Wide lapels and tall collars. Fall front trousers and riding boots. Large overcoat and top hat. But no gloves or fob watch…


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Matthew Rhys as Mr. Darcy, in same tailcoat, trousers and boots, but different waistcoat and without the coat. Hat and gloves. Nice tailcoat. Looks very comfortable. I can see myself in it. Unpadded shoulders, wide lapels (the bubbles along the edge indicates hand stitches), narrow sleeves, selfcovered buttons. I am sure Mr. Darcy would be in possession of more than the one coat, though.


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Lydia (Jenna Coleman) and Mr. Wickham (Matthew Goode). Handsome but extremely annoying people. (Weren´t they always?) Wickham fashionable in a nice double-breasted tailcoat. Notice how the narrow sleeves are slightly gathered at the shoulders. Fall front trousers. Boots, top hat. Shouldn´t a dandy like him also carry a watch? Or perhaps it was left in a pawn shop…

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Yes, there is a death. Is it murder? I like the wigs on the doctor and the other older gents.


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Members of the cast during filming. A good picture for compairing details on coats and waistcoats. The gentlemen have a lot of hair and many layers of clothes. Must have been warm – notice crew in the background wearing t-shirts.


Mr Darcy

And finally, three versions of Mr. Darcy, all in similar outfits. Colin Firth 1995, Matthew Macfadyen 2005 and Matthew Rhys 2014. Do you have a favourite?




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Jane Seymour as Mrs. Wattlesbrook

Some time ago Mrs. E. and I decided to watch Austenland. As a true “Jane Austen afficionado” it is, in my opinion, an obligation to keep an eye on Regency-related books and films. Not all of them is a masterpiece, I might add. The film Austenland is the only one to appear on the big screen this year. It is based on a bestselling novel (“chick lit”), written by Shannon Hale. The story is sort of relevant to us with its references to the Austen-adaptations and “Darcymania”. But why be so chocked/blasé if you spend all your money on a stay in Austenland? If you are more than familiar with Miss Austen´s novels then perhaps some Regency etiquette shouldn´t come as a total surprise. I got the impression that Keri Russel´s character was looking for a way to escape rather than actually embracing the rules. But I did enjoy Jane Seymour (I admit, I had a teenage crush on her. Scarlett Pimpernel! War and Remembrance! The French Revolution!) and of course the formidable Rupert Vansittart. The film has its funny moments – and apparently the cast had a great time during filming – but in the end it is a mere trifle. What do you think?

So what about production design? The manor was stunning. Plenty of nice costumes designed by Anne Hardinge. (And plenty of costumes that took liberties with Regency fashion!) And would you know it – some of the clothes seen in Austenland were originally created for Colin Firth´s Mr. Darcy back in 1995!  J.J. Feild is seen in a banyan, a linen overcoat, and top hat, the very ones that once belonged to our dear Mr. Darcy. Compare pictures! (Apologies for many exclamation marks!) Must have helped J.J. to find his inner Regency gentleman.


J.J. Feild (with Bret McKenzie and fabulous Georgia King) in same coat and hat…



…as Mr. Darcy. (Difficult to see but he is holding the hat.)

JJ Feild Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey

Another connection: in the 1997 Northanger Abbey J.J. Feild played Henry Tilney. In similar if not same green coat as…


…seen on Mr. Darcy.


Rupert Vansittart as bon vivant Mr. Wattlesbrook caught in a moment of, ahum, ungentlemanlike behaviour. Nice waistcoat and fierce sideburns!

Rupert Vansittart

Rupert Vansittart was of course Mr. Hurst back in 1995. (And married to one of the unpleasant Bingley sisters.)