We were promised that we would see the parts of Lyme that other tours didn’t reach, and so we did. But first we were given a brief history of the place. It started as a simple hunting lodge but the Elizabethans gave it a makeover and parts of the “L-shaped” building are still in evidence today. The big changes came in the early eighteenth century when an Italian architect was brought in. It was he who built the remaining two sides to make a hollow square, he who created the cloister effect in the courtyard and he who designed the classic Palladian South Front. The end result, however, was not an English country house but an Italian palazzo on the edge of the Peak District.
A hundred years later an English architect, Lewis Wyatt, made extensive but subtle alterations, particularly to the service rooms and servant quarters, and this made the house much more practicable and convenient. Our tour looked at how the house was organised and run in the “Golden Period” – that time before the First World War when this style of living was at its apogee.