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…

Death Comes to Pemberley

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?



6 thoughts on “Death Comes to Pemberley

  1. Mr. Elton, I couldn’t open your post until I selected “Reply”. Then I couldn’t get the “Comment” button to open the comment box. So my reply is coming back to you in an odd fashion. Very interesting post. I’ve read the book (loved it) and seen 1/2 of the TV adaptation (my local Jane Austen Society, North America chapter) is showing it in installments. Liked the book better than the adaptation. Favorite Darcy attire (personal choice because it would look better on me) is Matthew MacFayden dressed in darker subdued colors with striped waistcoat. Great!

    • Have you seen all episodes by now? What do you think? Book or adaptation? Interesting that you prefer the look as seen on Macfadyen. I agree on the colours and his coats. (For me, not necessarily Darcy.) As I recall we never saw him wearing a hat, did we?

  2. Pingback: Death Comes to Pemberley – Julia Daniels

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