Hello all. So a few more words about the research I’ve carried out for ‘Intrigue At Longbourn’ (prequel to Pride & Prejudice) and ‘Menace At Pemberley’ (sequel). I found it very useful, particularly for the prequel, to use a currency converter so as to be able to work out roughly what today’s values are of amounts of money given in the novels for Georgian/Regency times. Direct comparisons are impossible, mainly because wages were so low and the well-off could get a lot more for their money, but still some idea of the value of money then is helpful.
The figures given here are from research carried out in 2022 when the multiplier I used was 140 times. Thereby, Mr Bennet’s income of two thousand pounds equates to about £280,000. Darcy’s income was famously ten thousand pounds as Mrs Bennet crowed when he first came to Meryton, therefore roughly £1.4M. Not so bad, however, many industrialists of the day had much higher incomes and I was astonished to find out that bishops had very high incomes and the incomes of Archbishops were fantastically high. According to The Christian Spectator Volume 1, in 1792 the Archbishop of Canterbury had an income of £20,000, which I’ve also read elsewhere, though Ian Mortimer’s ‘The Time Traveller’s Guide to Regency Britain’ gives it as £7,000 per annum. I wouldn’t know which is the more accurate.
In ‘Intrigue At Longbourn’, the Reverend Wilde spent various amounts of money to pay for information when helping Elizabeth discover the fate of the young kitchen maid, Alice, dismissed from Longbourn House on account of her being pregnant. I used the converter in the hope that I could work out what would have been appropriate and reasonable.
It has been said that Jane Austen may have based Pemberley on Chatsworth in Derbyshire, having possibly visited Chatsworth, and this seems to be a common supposition. For example, one of the covers of P D James’s novel ‘Death Comes To Pemberley’ and also the BBC 1995 adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ show views of Chatsworth House.
But, when Jane Austen gave Darcy an income of ten thousand a year, she would not have known that the 5th Duke of Devonshire had an income of over £35,000 when, in 1764, he inherited the title which included vast estates. Chatsworth and Haddon Hall were but two of the properties included together with property in Yorkshire and Ireland. We have visited Haddon Hall, though not Chatsworth so far. Haddon Hall is a very interesting property with lots of information and many original medieval features and tapestries.
Hence in ‘Menace At Pemberley’ I have described a large, commanding house built in the in the same Baroque style as Chatsworth but I have not attempted to draw a similarity to Chatsworth. Having said that, it’s possible that Pemberley House might have been as grand as Chatsworth House, yet with less extensive estates yielding such a high income.
As Darcy mentions to Elizabeth in ‘Menace At Pemberley’, the Duke used the profits from his copper mines to develop Buxton into a resort, including a replica of The Royal Crescent in Bath. In ‘Intrigue At Longbourn’, the Bennets, Philipses and Gardiners took a holiday to Buxton, though of course the word ‘holiday’ doesn’t appear in the book as it was not in use at that time.
The image attached is of a panoramic view of Chatsworth House and Park, early 18th century by Pieter Tillemans.