Peak District’s proud movie legacy

David James, Chief Executive of Visit Peak District & Derbyshire (third from right) and Jenni MacKenzie, General Manager of The Peacock at Rowsley (second from right) meet overseas and UK journalists during a fact-finding, film-themed weekend in the Peak District.
David James, Chief Executive of Visit Peak District & Derbyshire (third from right) and Jenni MacKenzie, General Manager of The Peacock at Rowsley (second from right) meet overseas and UK journalists during a fact-finding, film-themed weekend in the Peak District.

JOURNALISTS serving markets across the globe – including Germany, China, Japan, Canada and the USA – have been busy discovering why the Peak District is such a superstar in the high-profile world of film and television.

Official tourist board Visit Peak District & Derbyshire joined forces with VisitEngland to host a film-themed fact-finding weekend for a wide variety of media representatives from both home and abroad as the international media paused for breath between the London Olympics 2012 and the Paralympics.

The aim of the action-packed weekend (August 18 and 19) was to demonstrate that’s there’s much more to England than its capital city, and to encourage more overseas and domestic visitors to consider a holiday in the Peak District in 2013 and beyond.

The whistle-stop tour focused on the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice in 2013, the area’s extensive links with the novel, film and TV adaptations and the brand new Summer Nights Outdoor Film Festival currently being staged by QUAD, Derby’s centre for art and film.

Highlights were visits to Chatsworth (believed to be the inspiration for Mr. Darcy’s home Pemberley), Kedleston Hall (venue for last Saturday’s outdoor screening of the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley) and Haddon Hall (location for the Inn at Lambton in the 2005 and also for numerous other films and TV series, including three versions of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.

The journalists stayed overnight at the Marriott Breadsall Priory near Derby, and enjoyed Sunday lunch at The Peacock at Rowsley, where various famous actors have been guests over the years, such as Keira Knightley, Colin Firth, Eric Bana and Dame Judi Dench.

And they got a true taste of the area with a picnic of quality, locally-produced food and drink before the outdoor film screening – all donated free of charge by local suppliers. The menu included sandwiches and pork pies from Hackwood Farm, Radbourne, Derby; cheese, fruit, salad and beer from Chatsworth Farm Shop; wine from Renishaw Hall & Gardens in north east Derbyshire; Buxton Water and Bakewell Pudding-inspired chocolates hand crafted by Cocoadance of Castleton.

“While the media spotlight was understandably concentrated on London throughout the Olympic Games, our focus over the past year has been to develop ways of capitalising on Britain’s ‘moment to shine’ into 2013 and beyond,” said David James, Chief Executive of Visit Peak District & Derbyshire.

“We’ve been working closely with both VisitEngland and VisitBritain on practical strategies to boost the number of both overseas and domestic staying visitors to the Peak District – and this fact-finding weekend for journalists is one of a number of initiatives we’ve taken in a bid to achieve our goal.

“A lot has been said recently about the Olympic legacy – and we see it as a great opportunity to boost the Peak District’s profile on the world stage and hopefully bring in more business to benefit the local, regional and national economy in the future.

“We’re very grateful to all the businesses and organisations that contributed to the weekend’s success, including Derbyshire County Council’s help in putting together a picnic to showcase the area’s wide variety of delicious food and drink.

“Many visitors are fascinated by the area’s film and television links, so the forthcoming 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice is an ideal time to highlight some of our most popular assets - including superb landscapes, fabulous historic houses and quality accommodation – and to put the Peak District even more firmly on the map.”

Laura Dewar, Destination PR Manager for VisitEngland, who co-hosted the visit, said: “The forthcoming 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice was the perfect hook around which to base a trip to the Peak District, and the timing of QUAD’s Summer Nights Outdoor Film Festival was ideal.

“This two day media itinerary was a short but perfectly-formed showcase of this beautiful part of England. Visit Peak District & Derbyshire pulled out all the stops to make this a trip to remember – from private tours of Kedleston Hall and Haddon Hall to lunch at the Peacock at Rowsley and an outdoor screening of Pride & Prejudice – and it was extremely popular with the press.”