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Janes and Croquet

Thinking About My Janes

So Jane Fynderne (Findern) is the last of the Finderns, and in all the things I've read, she inherited the manor houses and lands of the Finderns in the sixteenth-century, and so they became part of her husband, Richard Harpur's estates. I've always imagined that the Findern manuscript was on a book shelf in one of those manor houses and that Jane collected up her family mementos and took it home with her. NOT SO! Today at the Records Office I found an article that explains that her brother, Thomas Findern, made out a will saying that ANY male in the family would inherit before his sister, Jane. So when he dies, it all goes to some ne'r-do-well distant relation named Michael Findern. Now Richard and Jane go to court to try to get the lands, but they never get anywhere that way. The whole time, Michael is taking out loans and running up debts. Eventually, Richard and Jane's side of the family agree to pay off £400 of his debts and they buy the manors and lands from him. The amusing bit is that in their home church at Swarkestone, Richard and Jane have a tomb which says who Richard is and then says "here lies his wife Jane Fynderene, sister and heir to Thomas Fynderne Esquire." —So essentially, they just delete the ne'r-do-well from their version of the story.

And the Other Jane

I've started rereading the Darbyshire section of Pride and Prejudice because, well, I'm in Darbyshire in the Peak District. It is indeed stunning and I am as impressed with the place as Elizabeth's aunt. Unfortunately, Erin and I have caught Shelly's summer cold, and we just pooped out today or we would have gone to Chatsworth House. That's one of the houses that Lizzy and her aunt and uncle visit, and it's thought that that is the house Jane Austen is describing when she writes about Pemberly. Ah well, we've managed to see Matlock and the Peaks, so those are the other "beauties" that Jane writes about.

Touring the Grounds with Trevor and Croquet

The hotel has been very obliging about anything we need, including providing a golf cart to get around from one side of the priory to the other without having to do all the stairs. I strongly objected to eating in one of our hot rooms this evening (the hotel is, of course, not air conditioned), so we packed up our picnic and decided to eat in the cool breezy shade on the croquet lawn. The driver who picked us up, Trevor, was a treasure.

He zoomed us past the pet cemetery and told us that Charles Darwin's uncle, Erasamus, used to own the Priory House and so when Charles's dogs died, he would bring them over to bury them here. There's quite a little graveyard, complete with carved headstones. Shelly mentioned "Munchie the Hotel Cat," and Trevor put his hand over his heart and said, "Ah now, my best friend, my best friend. Knew him for thirteen years I did. Came up one day and we couldn't find no owner so we kept him. Big black cat, stayed up at the reception. Sometimes people sat on him thinking he was a cushion. Children would pet him and want to take him home. We had to have little stuffed animal cats with red bows that said "Munchie" to give them."

This was just the start really. He encouraged us to play a game of croquet, and then came to check on us while we were playing. He told Shelly that he'd put money on her, so she needed to play hard. (Which she apparently took to heart because she skunked Erin and I.) When he came back to get us, he took us on a tour of the place on the golf cart. He said in particular, we just had to see the view from the 11th hole. So he zoomed us up a steep hill and we got out to enjoy the overlook of the Priory Hotel and the Derbyshire Dales. Then he asked which of us had a camera because we certainly needed a shot of that. Then he zoomed across the back of the golf course, stopping to pick up a few driving range balls that had gone astray and gotten out of their fence, so we could feel how heavy they were, then he saw a couple of white balls down the hill and went after those as a comparison— then we noticed the people in the distance hurrrying towards us who obviously were still playing those balls. We zoomed back the way we came, glad we hadn't picked those last balls up. When Shelly tried to give him a tip at the end he said, "No, no, Just give me a kiss love." Then he hugged her and pecked her cheek.

Really, just a priceless evening filled with beauty, kindness, and laughter.

Pretty Pics:

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger version and enter a slideshow of the larger versions.

Pond below Breadsall Priory
Pond below Breadsall Priory
Trevor, our golf cart driver
Trevor, our golf cart driver
Trevor taking the picture
Trevor taking the picture
Picnic in the shade on the Croquet Field
Picnic in the shade on the Croquet Field
Action shot of Shelly's killer putt
Action shot of Shelly's killer putt
Hitting the blue ball the wrong direction
Hitting the blue ball the wrong direction
Erin intently lining up her shot
Erin intently lining up her shot
Shelly in the Victory Pose after Winning
Shelly in the Victory Pose after Winning
Up on the 11th Green, overlooking Breadsall Priory
Up on the 11th Green, overlooking Breadsall Priory
Overlooking the Derbyshire Dales
Overlooking the Derbyshire Dales