The house was once the home of the Leghs of Lyme, who had a family tradition of naming the male heir Peter, or Piers. So each successive head of the house gained a Roman numeral after his name. It fell to Peter X to create the Lyme Par as it is today.
The park is famous for its appearance in the BBC production of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice.
Over the centuries, it was the setting for hunting parties, plotting and royal visits.
Around the house are 17 acres of enjoyable Victorian gardens, including a sunken parterre, rose garden, ravine garden, conservatory and a deer park that existed in the medieval period. On the crest of a hill in the park, overlooking the house, is The Cage, a Gothic style hunting tower built in the 18th century.
For the last few years I’ve been making damson gin, foraging for the gorgeous, rich and mildly astringent plum subspecies towards the end of September and letting them sit in a good gin with a little muscovado sugar ‘til Christmas Eve when I’ll make up a bottle, saving the rest for Easter or maybe even the following Christmas.
Fortunately there’s a wealth of damson trees around here as it was a popular hedging tree for farmers and land owners, and one of my local stately homes, Chillington Hall (the estate has been home to the Gifford family since the 1100′s, the rather ugly red brick house is of Georgian construction), has ‘em in abundance. So it was I found m’self with 10lb of fruit this year, enough for multiple batches of gin, a few pots of jam, a couple of damson crumbles, and even enough for some homemade damson ice cream. Excellent!
The first bottling of the resulting tipple was just lovely, med-sweet, obscenely rich and fruity courtesy of the damsons, and with a lovely hit of juniper, almond, and other botanicals peeking through. Looking forward to bottling more over Easter, cheers all!