Country Houses in Jane Austen's novels - Persuasion
There are not many references to Kellynch Hall in the novel - I realised on re-reading the novel that my view of Kellynch Hall had been strongly influenced by the films.
However we do know that Kellynch Hall was the seat of Sir Walter Elliot, and was a house which had a character of hospitality and ancient dignity to support. There was a neighbouring market town, a church and a modern Lodge where Lady Russell lived, all called Kellynch, and all in the county of Somerset. It is interesting that the name Kellynch is actually Irish!
Kellynch Hall was part of a good, large property. There was a park, plus lawns, groves, gardens, shrubberies, and pleasure gardens. The actual size is not stated but since the comparatively insignificant Winthrop, which Charles Hayter in Persuasion is to inherit, is not less than 250 acres, Kellynch must have been considerably larger. The Hall would not have been built by Sir Walter, but inherited. It was probably old, considering the comment of ancient dignity to support. Any improvements made are likely to be of the furnishings for fashion.
It was the best home in the district and had drawing rooms, breakfast room, butlers room, laundry, and apartments (dressing room). The furnishings consist of pictures and books, the furniture is worth preserving and looking glasses - with which Admiral Croft deals summarily:
The family have status with their title and this house befits that status. It must have been impressive, for Anne just for a moment thinks that an association with Mr. Elliot may be good, as it would make her mistress of Kellynch Hall,
It was obviously however finally not enough for her to marry him.
The lack of details sets up the personalities of the main characters. The perceptions of Sir Walter and of Admiral Croft do more to demonstrate their characters, and are more amusing, than a detailed description of the Hall would achieve:
1. Sir Walter sees the home as the best and it is a privilege to the tenant to be allowed to rent it. His conceit does not see other homes as its equal. He initially thinks he can impose restrictions on where his tenant can go, because any tenant would see it as a great honour to rent Kellynch. He does not long see the shame in having to rent the Hall.
2. Admiral Croft is more down to earth and does not really care about the status of the home - he admits that he cannot find a better in the district but thinks his opinion would be a compliment to Sir William.
The small improvements he makes prove that Admiral Croft likes a practical home, being content with the people and places circumstances provide:
The irony in all this is that the unconceited Admiral Croft can afford Kellynch while Sir Walter cannot. It is doubtful whether Sir Walter will ever be able to live at Kellynch Hall again.
The closest I could find to my vision of Kellynch is Levens Hall in Cumbria. Levens Hall tower was built in 1303 but the main house is Elizabethan (1558-1603) and so could probably be described as ancient in the 1800s. The gardens and park around this home are one of the main attractions and have been added to over the years. The pleasure grounds of the Elizabethan era, which Kellynch is also stated to possess, are here replaced by Victorian topiary gardens.
Hall in Cumbria. The tower was built in 1303 but the main house is Elizabethan (1558
Is this your view of Kellynch?
16 August 2000