Visiting the Bakewell of Nine Ladies
Unlike in Nine Ladies, you can't travel through time by standing in a stone circle during certain solar events. However, the places that modern Elizabeth visits before she goes back in time to meet Regency Darcy are real. I finished the manuscript for Nine Ladies in 2018, and in 2019 I visited Derbyshire with a dear friend. Bakewell was our home-base and it’s also where Elizabeth is staying in 2011 when Nine Ladies opens.
This is Bank House on Bath Street in Bakewell. When Darcy rode through Bakewell in 1811, it was a girls’ school, but by the time Elizabeth comes to England it was converted into 3 flats, and she’s renting the second one from Professor Gardiner.
Elizabeth’s friends from Sheffield decide that she needs some cheering up after her father’s death and they come to spend the weekend with her. They leave her flat and walk toward the town center to have breakfast. They pass the Rutland Arms–in the back of this picture–an inn built in 1804. Jane Austen is believed to have stayed here in 1811, but it's just an apocryphal rumor perpetuated by a travel bureau that has no basis in fact!
Elizabeth and her friends, Charlotte Lucas and her sister Maria, Willie Collins, and Missy King then take a bus from Bakewell to nearby Haddon Hall.
Haddon is a 900 year old manor house that is still a private residence and one of the only houses in England that has remained in one family’s ownership. It was empty throughout the Georgian and Victorian era while the family lived elsewhere. When Elizabeth visits Haddon in Nine Ladies, she’s not impressed by the Tudor and Medieval styling, but she does like the terraced walled gardens.
Later, her friends have to decide to visit either a Bronze Age stone circle or the ruins of a Georgian-era home. They decide on visiting the Pemberley ruins, but the stone circle stays in Elizabeth’s mind.
Of course, they have to finish the afternoon with a Bakewell pudding. The debate of Bakewell tarts versus pudding is endless. I ate and loved both.
After her friends leave, Elizabeth decides to see the Nine Ladies stone circle herself. She walks to Stanton Moor and sees a stone circle that’s 4,000-years old. The walk from Bakewell to Stanton Moor is doable, but we wisely chose to take a bus. Even having done that, it is very possible to get horribly lost along the way and nearly miss it!
In Nine Ladies, if you stand in the center of the stone circle at sunset on an equinox—in the 21st century—you’ll go back in time 200 years. The one-way portal opens again on a solstice, and anyone inside will move forward in time from the 19th century to the 21st. I stood in the center of that stone circle for a while, but I didn’t go anywhere. No regency men with wealth and pride issues for me. But if you read Nine Ladies you’ll find out what happens when a 21st century Elizabeth goes back in time to meet 19th century Darcy.