You won’t find Fitzwilliam Darcy waiting to host you at Pemberley, the Full region in Second Life … Nor, to be honest, will you find any grand manor house ready to captivate your gaze from afar, or signs of the gardens and English countryside across which Elizabeth Bennet first caught sight of the house.
– This blog, December 2021
These are the words I used to open my last article concerning Pemberley, the private Full region held by Jude Mortensen, NataliaLinn and Aria Christen, and which borrows its name from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, when I visited it in late 2021.
Well, times have changed, and Pemberley recently re-opened to the public with a new look for the summer of 2023 – and I should here offer apologies to Aria, Jude and NataliaLinn for being unable to take up their invitation to visit ahead of said re-opening; time hasn’t been on my side for extensive SL explorations of late.
True, there is still no grand house nor formal gardens per se, to be found within the new design, which has been visualised by Aria, and elements might appear a little wilder in places than one might expect to find in Regency Hertfordshire; however, these matters are of trifling import. What is presented is a setting intended to encompass the romance and visual richness of Austin’s novel, and I have little doubt she or her leading character would feel at home walking the paths and gardens here.
A visit starts towards the south of the region, the landing point sitting within a folly so typical of Regency gardens, lifted above the surrounding landscape by the helpful shoulder of a hill. From here, the path gently descends into the gardens below, passing between two ranks of trees, their boughs raised up over the path like an honour guard holding aloft their swords, an ancient and bent tree at their head standing like some grizzled Sergeant-Major holding the rank to its discipline.
Descending by way of steps laid into the ground using logs cuts to size, the path slopes down to where a raise stone terrace sits atop four paved ramps, itself crowned by an octagonal fountain. This perhaps offers the first hint that the setting is designed to capture the romance embodied in Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, rather than represent it: the date carved into the door lintels sitting below the main platform suggest it may have been constructed during the Victorian era.
With three further ways down from the fountain, visitors have a choice or routes for onwards exploration. It doesn’t matter which is taken as they all offer a sense of romance and mystique as they are followed. To the east, for example, the ramp drops down to where the path immediately splits, one arm pointing north to were the outlines of a high wall might be seen through the foliage, the other pointing due east to pass through an archway formed by the split, twisted trunk of another ancient tree, and thence through a vine and clematis draped hall hinting at something waiting beyond.
That “something” is in fact the remains of a once magnificent structure dating well back prior to the Regency period. The great arches set into the remaining walls at ground level suggests this may have once been an abbey of some kind, the stonework within the arches looking as though it may once have supported stained glass.
Together with the flagstones still visible despite nature’s attempts down the centuries to reclaim the ground, the walls enclose a space with a sense of enchantment about it, dominated by a single massive wall to one hinting at its former glory. Now, wisteria weep their blossom and teardrop chandeliers around the edges of this cloister-like setting, the flagstones lying across it suggesting they are awaiting the arrival of guests for an open-air summer ball.
The other arm of the path runs past a gardener’s cart and onwards up to a gate on the wall, providing access to a summer house set within its own courtyard. Here again is the richness of dichotomy found within Pemberley. On the one hand, it’s not hard to imagine the likes of Ms. Bennet and Mr. Darcy strolling through the garden to come to this grand summer house so they might sit in genteel conversation – or which Elizabeth and her sisters might consider it a marvellous place to spend an afternoon. However, sitting within the courtyard are thoroughly modern bicycles, whilst inside is a very modern coffee house / café in terms of the overall furnishings and much of the beverage selection!
The remaining paths similarly lead to or past various locations to be found within the gardens. These include an alternate path up to the summer house, further follies and remnants of structures that might be related to the former abbey (or they might not be!), bridges which reach back and forth over the local stream and in one corner, a cosy little house where it is possible to imagine the Bennet family sitting down to a meal. The beauty here is that, whichever path you take, you will eventually find the means via intersections, bridges and steps, to find your way completely around the setting and perhaps even to the little rowing boat and its own sense of romance.
Sitting under its own environment settings – although I admit I did opt to haul the Sun a little higher into the sky for the photos herein – Pemberley is highly photogenic and makes for a rich and rewarding visit. Do make sure to have your local sounds on for the fullest experience, and if so minded, share your images in the Pemberley Flickr group (link in the region’s description.
My thanks again to NataliaLinn, Aria and Jude for their invitation, and to Shawn Shakespeare for the reminder that I really should get my rear end over to the region and explore!
- Pemberley (rated Moderate)