A Regency picnic in Sansar

Picnic at Mr. Darcy’s

Step back into Regency England and pay a visit to Mr. Darcy’s splendid manor house and grounds. Here you can picnic as you watch the croquet match (even play), waltz to a sweet melody on the vast marble terrace or just take a long walk to gather your thoughts.

So reads the invitation from Solas (SolasNaGealai in Second Life) for people to visit Picnic At Mr. Darcy’s, one of her Sansar experiences. For those seeking a relaxing, period walk and time with a friend, it could be just the ticket – albeit with a little bit of a twist in places.

As the invite states, visitors are offered the chance to visit the grounds of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s magnificent Pemberley manor house as imagined by Solas, and spend time exploring them. A visit starts on the grand lawn, with Tchaikovsky‘s waltz from Sleeping Beauty playing in the air. Behind the lawn, the façade of the house rises as a stately edifice, while immediately alongside the spawn point is the promised croquet game. Alas, play would appear to be restricted to those in VR mode (although those in Desktop mode could perhaps play a variant of the game based on tossing the balls around!).

Picnic at Mr. Darcy’s

A single oak tree grows from the lawn, shading a picnic blanket with hamper and gramophone beneath its branches. A pergola sits close by offering further edible delights – clearly, Mr. Darcy likes to entertain and keep his guests well fed! A formal garden borders the raised lawn and separates it from the manor house. Reached via stone steps which curl down from the cardinal compass points of the lawn, the gardens offer paved paths ready for visitors to stroll.

The grand house itself rises from a marble topped terrace which sits above the gardens, affording a grand view out over the gardens and lawn, the remains of an earlier building – perhaps left as a folly –   sitting between house and lawn. More pergolas sit on the terrace, and it is easy to imagine an afternoon dance being held here one fine summer’s day, with ladies and their gentlemen gliding over the tiles of the terrace, or sitting in the netted shade of the pergolas.

Picnic at Mr. Darcy’s

Unfortunately, the house is but a façade, and not a place to be itself explored. I would also suggest the sitting itself is to the rear of the house, rather than the frontage; there is no broad drive one might expect, leading up to a grand entrance designed to reinforce the status of the owner. This does not detract from the setting, however; rather the reverse, as it suggests visitors are indeed guests of Mr. Darcy, having already been formally greeted and show through the house to the gardens.

What I particularly like about this design are the little eclectic incongruities. Mr. Darcy is a Regency man, in his prime in the early 1800s – yet the choice of music comes from the opposite end of the 19th century, well outside of the Regency period (1890). Similarly, the gramophone sitting beneath the oak tree on the picnic blanket belongs more to the early 20th century, while the modern game of croquet on the lawn and the gas lamps both lean more towards the period immediately after the Regency.

Picnic at Mr. Darcy’s

But again, rather than detracting from the scene, these touches add an interesting depth. Dances, for example, were very much part of the period, and whilst from a later time, it is nevertheless easy to picture gowned ladies and tailcoated gentlemen gliding over marble of the terrace to the Sleeping Beauty waltz and quietly conversing. Similarly, the presence of gas lamps in the grounds suggest that Mr. Darcy is forward thinking, adopting the technology just as it starts to make a public appearance on the street of England, while the croquet set perhaps indicates he has an interest in the game just ahead of it being more formalised through recognised rules. Even the gramophone gives a certain “feel” to the scene – a reminder that we are perhaps travellers from another time, looking in on Darcy’s world.

I hope that as Sansar’s capabilities develop, Solas will enhance this scene; it would be a joy to return at some point in period garb and genuinely participate in a dance at Pemberley (out on the terrace or perhaps even indoors in a suitable hall!), or enjoy a game of croquet whether in VR mode or Desktop mode, or simply wander the gardens and see more flora and accompanying fauna appear.

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