JANE AUSTEN’S ENGLAND (K)


This is the eleventh illustrated essay, in a series of twelve, which describes some of the houses and places associated with Jane Austen, and her novels, as well as the film and TV adaptations, although it is not a comprehensive gazetteer.

K. FILM AND TV LOCATIONS – “MANSFIELD PARK” (1814) AND EMMA (1815)

The novel is the story of Frances (Fanny) Price, the second eldest child of a family of nine children, sent at the age of ten to live with a more well-to-do uncle and aunt in their large house, Mansfield Park. One of the themes is that of the status of “poor relations”, and how the apparent generosity of some relatives can be offset and marred by the condescending unkindness of others. With modern eyes, perhaps we see more keenly the psychological vulnerability of children separated from their natural parents.

The table below excludes radio and stage productions. For details of these, see Ref B.

Table 1 Film and TV productions of “Mansfield Park”

FANNY PRICE

EDMUND BERTRAM

PRODUCTION

Sylvestra Le Touzel Nicholas Farrell 1983, BBC TV serial,
Frances O’Connor Jonny Lee Miller 1999 , film, production directed by Patricia Rozema,
Billie Piper Blake Ritson 2007, TV film production, directed by Iain B McDonald, ,

(i) Themes within the Novel

The novel contains a number of more profound themes than that of the alienation of poor relations. Virginia Woolf and other writers identified the locations and events in the story as symbols of these themes, “For instance, the ha-ha in ‘Sotherton Court’ is a boundary which some will cross, while others will not, thus indicating the future moral transgressions of Maria Bertram and Henry Crawford. Later on in the novel, the theatricals (based upon Lovers’ Vows) in which the company is involved at the request of Tom Bertram, (with the exception of Fanny) is further indication of real life future behaviour.” (Ref B)

The “ha-ha” is an invention of eighteenth century landscape gardeners. It is a kind of “one-way” fence. As illustration 1 shows, stock like cattle or sheep, can graze right up to the wall but cannot get over it. On the opposite side of the ha-ha there is an uninterrupted view (2) from the big house, of lawns merging into meadows and pasture lands. It was part of the fashionable movement for picturesque and landscape qualities discussed in Part J of this series.

The ha-ha, in the grounds of Castle Ashby, is just discernible as a line between the darker foliage under the trees, and the mid-green of the bank sloping down towards the wall. Beyond the pale green meadow is a view of the lake, surrounded by trees.


The amateur theatricals mentioned earlier, involved an obscure German play, “Das Kind der Liebe”, by August von Kotzebue, rather euphemistically translated into English as “Lovers’ Vows”, but more accurately as, “Love Child” or “Bastard”. The English version was written by Elizabeth Inchbald, (3) who set the play in Germany. The social attitudes to sex outside marriage, and illegitimacy, represented in the play did not chime with respectable English society in the Regency Period, hence Fanny Price’s refusal to take part. Nowadays, the play’s only claim to fame is that it appears as part of the plot of “Mansfield Park”. (Ref C)


Surprisingly, in the twenty-first century “Mansfield Park” has proved to be the most controversial of Jane Austen’s novels. This is because it touches very briefly on the issue of slavery in the West Indies. Given the current propensity of some political activists to take offence at practically everything, it is perhaps no surprise that Jane Austen has been attacked in print as a racist. Many other writers have sprung to her defence. Readers can find further details of the debate in Reference B.

(ii) The 1983 TV serial

This version, directed by David Giles, starring the Jersey-French actress, Sylvestra Le Touzel (Fanny Price) and Nicholas Farrell (Edmund Bertram) is claimed to stay reasonably faithful to the plot of the novel. (Ref D). No details are given of locations.


(iii) The 1999 film

The production is described as a “romantic comedy drama based on Jane Austen‘s novel of the same name, written and directed by Patricia Rozema. The film departs from the original novel in several respects. For example, the life of Jane Austen is incorporated into the film, as well as the issues of slavery and plantation life.” (Ref E) It appears that the controversies over Jane Austen’s supposed attitudes to the slave trade proved irresistible to the Canadian director, Patricia Rozema, who created a twenty-first century veneer over the novel.

“In the novel, Fanny is very shy and timid, and not accustomed to giving her own opinion. Her physical condition is frail, making her tire easily. In the film, in contrast, Fanny is extroverted, self-confident, and outspoken, while also being physically healthier.” (Ref E) The director, who was also the writer, seems to have re-created poor Fanny Price in her own image.


It starred (5) Frances O’Connor (Fanny Price) and Jonny Lee Miller (Edmund Bertram). The main location for the film was at Kirby Hall (6), near Corby, Northamptonshire. This is a very curious choice, as the building, though magnificent, is a semi-ruin with much of it roofless, and a prey to wind and rain. It is in the care of English Heritage and open to the public. No other locations are mentioned.


(iv) The 2007 TV film

The film was directed by Iain B McDonald, and starred Billy Piper (Fanny Price) and Blake Ritson (Edmund Bertram). No critical comments on the film, or details of other locations, appear in Reference F, other than it was made at Newby Hall, near Boroughbridge, in North Yorkshire.


EMMA (1815)

The heroine of the novel, Emma Woodhouse, is shown taking pride in the process of “match-making” for other people, before she discovers the perils of such a pre-occupation. Having sworn she will never marry, by the end of the novel she realises she is in love with her childhood friend, George Knightley. Seventeen adaptations of “Emma” are listed in Reference G, for film, TV and stage, but only four are examined here, as shown in the table below.

Table 2: Film and TV productions of “Emma”

YEAR

MEDIUM

EMMA

MR KNIGHTLEY

1972

TV serial

Doran Godwin

John Carson

1996

Theatrical film

Gwyneth Paltrow

Jeremy Northam

1996

TV film

Kate Beckinsale

Mark Strong

2009

TV serial

Romola Garai

Jonny Lee Miller

(i) 1972 TV serial

This was a six-part serial, produced for BBC TV and directed by John Glenister, starring Doran Godwin as Emma Woodhouse, and John Carson as George Knightley. There are no comments on the production or details of locations in Reference H.

(ii) 1996 Theatrical film

The production was written and directed by Douglas McGrath, starring the American actress, Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma Woodhouse, and Jeremy Northam as George Knightley. There is a detailed description of the casting and production but no details on the locations.

(iii) 1996 TV film

This TV production, appearing in the same year as the film, was written by Andrew Davies and directed by Diarmuid Lawrence, starring (9) Kate Beckinsale as Emma Woodhouse, and Mark Strong as George Knightley. A detailed and critical discussion of the production appears in Reference J. There are also brief details of the locations for filming, shown in the table below.


Table 3: Locations in the 1996 TV productions of “Emma”

NOVEL LOCATION

SIGNIFICANCE

ACTUAL LOCATION

Donwell Abbey Family home of George Knightley Broughton Castle, Banbury, Oxfordshire
Donwell Abbey exteriors Family home of George Knightley Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire
Donwell Abbey interiors Family home of George Knightley Stanway House, Gloucestershire
Hartfield Family home of Emma Woodhouse Trafalgar Park, Salisbury, Wiltshire
Randalls House of Mr Weston Dorney Court, Dorney, Buckinghamshire
Highbury village(10) Home village of Emma Woodhouse Lacock village, Wiltshire
Abbey Mill Farm, Hartfield interiors Family home of Emma Woodhouse Thame Park, Oxfordshire



Details of Locations

Broughton Castle, 2m SW Banbury

Sudeley Castle, 1m SE of Winchcombe

Stanway House, 2m NE of Winchcombe, 5 m S of Evesham

Trafalgar Park, Salisbury, Wiltshire

Dorney Court, Dorney, Buckinghamshire, 2m SE of Maidenhead

Lacock village, Wiltshire, 3m S of Chippenham

Thame Park, Oxfordshire, 1m S of Thame

(iv) 2009 TV serial

“The four episodes were written by Sandy Welch, acclaimed writer of previous BBC costume-dramas Jane Eyre and North & South, and directed by Jim O’Hanlon. The serial stars (12) Romola Garai as the titular heroine Emma Woodhouse, Jonny Lee Miller as her loyal lifelong friend Mr. Knightley.” (Ref K) Much, largely irrelevant, detail like precise times and dates of filming is provided, in Reference K, but it is never clear what the various locations represent in the novel. It is nowhere as clear and specific as is Reference J for the 1996 production.

Presumably the village of Chilham, Kent (14), represents “Highbury” Emma’s home village. The parish church (15) of St Mary the Virgin in Send, Surrey was used for scenes of a wedding and a Sunday service. Whether Squerryes Court, (16) Westerham, Kent, where many interior scenes were shot, (17) represented Emma’s family home, “Hartfield” or George Knightley’s home, “Donwell Abbey” or both, we do not discover.
Emma and Harriet Smith are shown on their way to visit the poor, in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, and the church they pass along is St. Etheldreda’s (18).




Details of Locations

Chilham, Kent, 4m SW of Canterbury

Send, Surrey, 1m SE of Woking

Squerryes Court, Westerham, Kent

Hatfield, Hertfordshire


SERIES TO BE CONTINUED

REFERENCES

A. “The ha-ha” (Wikipedia article)

B. “Mansfield Park” (Wikipedia article)

C. “Lovers’ Vows” (Wikipedia article)

D. “Mansfield Park (1983 TV serial)” (Wikipedia article)

E. “Mansfield Park (film)” 1999 (Wikipedia article)

F. “Mansfield Park (2007 film)” (Wikipedia article)

G. “Emma” (Wikipedia article)

H. “Emma (1982 TV serial)” (Wikipedia article)

I. “Emma (1996 theatrical film)” (Wikipedia article)

J. “Emma (1996 TV film)” (Wikipedia article)
K. “Emma (2009 TV serial)” (Wikipedia article)

ILLUSTRATIONS

1. The “ha-ha” wall at Hopetoun House, West Lothian, Scotland (Ref A)

2. The ha-ha of Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire (Ref A)

3. The play within the novel, “Mansfield Park” (Google image)

4. Sylvestra Le Touzel and Nicholas Farrell (Google image)

5. Frances O’Connor (Fanny Price) and Jonny Lee Miller (Edmund Bertram) in the 1999 film of “Mansfield Park” (Google image)

6. The Courtyard of Kirby Hall, Northamptonshire (Keith Evans, Google image)

7. Billy Piper (Fanny Price) and Blake Ritson (Edmund Bertram) in the 2007 film of “Mansfield Park”
(Google image)

8. Newby Hall, near Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire (Google image)

9. Kate Beckinsale (Emma) and Mark Strong (George) in the 1996 TV film of “Emma”
(Google image)

10. Lacock, Wiltshire, (top) as “Highbury”, the home village and Trafalgar House as “Hartfield”, the family home of Emma Woodhouse
(Google image)

11. Broughton Castle, (top) as “Donwell Abbey”, the family home of George Knightley, and
Dorney Court, as Mr Weston’s houseRandalls(Google image)

12. Map of locations in the 1996 TV productions of “Emma” (Author)

13. Romola Garai (Emma) and Jonny Lee Miller (Mr Knightley) in the 2009 TV serial
(Google image)

14. The village of Chilham, Kent, as “Highbury” Emma’s home village (Google image)

15. The church of St Mary the Virgin, Send, near Woking, Surrey (Google image)

16. Squerryes Court, Westerham, Kent, used for interiors in “Emma”
the 2009 TV serial
(Google image)

17. Interior of Squerryes Court, during the 2009 filming of “Emma” (Google image)

18. St. Etheldreda’s, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
(Google image)

19. Map of locations in the 2009 TV serial of “Emma” (Author)

SERIES SUMMARY

CODE

MAIN SUBJECT

OTHER THEMES

A Hampshire Childhood Introduction-Reminders of the Past
B Kent Country Houses “Improvements”, and Garden Design
C City Elegance History of Bath, Neo-Classical Architecture
D Coastal Scenes Sea Drinking and Sea Bathing
E The Bristol Avon
F The Warwickshire Avon and the Cotswolds Adlestrop
G Return to Hampshire Portsmouth Point
H Winchester Days Medicine in the Early Nineteenth Century
I Locations “Sense and Sensibility” The Regency Period
J Locations –”Pride and Prejudice” The Picturesque
K Locations – “Mansfield Park” and “Emma” The Ha-Ha Boundary, “Lovers’ Vows” play
L Locations-“Northanger Abbey” and “Persuasion” The Gothic Novel, Irish History
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