Day One: Geography & Climate
Technically this should have gone up yesterday...
Searching for Julia is set on and around the Carsingthorpe Estate in Derbyshire, approximately equidistant from the market towns of Ashbourne and Wirksworth and a similar distance from the twin tourist towns of Matlock and Matlock Bath. On a real world 21st Century map, its location may best be judged by the position of Carsington Water, although in the novel's world, that reservoir never came into being.
The estate stretches over rolling grassland interrupted by areas of semi-cultivated woodland from the Ashbourne to Wirksworth Road down to the River Derwent and beyond. The village of Upper Pemberley is contained within the estate, while the village of Lower Pemberley is situated just outside the boundary wall.
Carsingthorpe has been the seat of the Dukes of Derwent Dale since 1471, and successive dukes have added to, and improved, Carsingthorpe Lodge to make it the rambling mix of architectural styles we see today. Of note is the Turret House (similar to the 'play castle at Bolsover pictured below) sited at what was once the corner of the outer fortified walls (long since dismantled for building materials, commonly employed as a dower house for successive widowed duchesses.
At the time of the novel, the great drought of 1976 is dragging on, with consequences for householders, farmers, and the tourist industry. It is also pivotal to the plot, as water levels in the Duke's Reach Reservoir fall ever closer to those last seen in 1955 when the ruins of two drowned farms and the packhorse bridge could be viewed from the banks; although this time the reservoir hides other secrets too.
Other tourist attractions close to the Carsingthorpe Estate include Chatsworth House (below left) and Hardwick Old Hall (below right).
Of course, the guidebook for Carsingthorpe Lodge makes the most enlightening reading material out of all the literature provided by the great houses mentioned in this post:
THE 'NEW' KITCHEN GARDEN: the formal gardens within the walls of Carsingthorpe Lodge have been reconstructed from plans found in the Muniment Room of those laid out in 1538 on the instruction of HENRY PEVERIL. During and after the war, this whole area was used for vegetables, grown to supplement those from the five-acre walled garden to the west of the Lodge. With the end of rationing, Her Grace, the current Dowager Duchess of Derwent Dale was instrumental in the construction of the paths, hedges and beds we see here today. Following a typical Elizabethan style, the beds contain many examples of plants which would have been popular in that era.
Next up, History & Politics.