'Pride and Prejudice' estate under threat from climate change, National Trust warns

Olivia Rudgard
·2-min read
Flooding in 2019 at Lyme Park, Cheshire. - National Trust /PA
Flooding in 2019 at Lyme Park, Cheshire. - National Trust /PA

Colin Firth's Mr Darcy caused hearts to flutter when he emerged from a lake at Lyme Park, Cheshire during the BBC's Pride and Prejudice.

But the famous estate is under threat from climate change and could be irreparably damaged in just a few decades without preventative action, the National Trust has said.

The number of its sites that are at risk from a changing climate is set to more than double by 2060, the charity warned.

Among those which face irreparable damage include the Cheshire country mansion used as the setting for Pemberley in the 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen's novel.

The Grade I listed country house is already under threat from floodwater and suffered a major flood in 2019, prompting the charity to plant trees on nearby moorlands in an attempt to protect the 16th century mansion and its surrounding deer park.

The charity has mapped the climate risks faced by different sites and properties across the UK in order to more effectively protect them.

National Trust climate change
National Trust climate change

If climate change is left unchecked and global carbon emissions remain high, the number at high or medium risk of climate-related hazards could increase from 20,457 today to 47,888 in 2060, out of a total 67,426 sites.

Other threats include invasive pests and diseases, heat damage, and landslides and coastal erosion.

National Trust Director for Land and Nature Harry Bowell said: “This map is a game changer in how we face the threat climate change poses to the places we care for.

“While the data draws on a worst-case scenario, the map paints a stark picture of what we have to prepare for.

“But by acting now, and working with nature, we can adapt to many of these risks.

“One of the most exciting opportunities here is the map ensures a joined-up approach in which neighbours, landowners, charities and developers can come together to identify risks and collectively intervene to tackle issues and make large scale change.

“Planting trees, restoring peatlands, slowing the flow of water in flood prone river valleys and preparing our places and collections for the increased heat and humidity are some of the measures this map can inform."

Other properties at risk of damage from flooding include Fountains Abbey in Ripon, North Yorkshire, which the charity hopes to protect in a £2.5m project to slow the flow of the nearby River Skell.

Natural landmarks under threat from coastal erosion include Birling Gap in East Sussex and the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

Hotter, drier summers combined with milder, wetter winters are expected to lead to more pronounced soil heave and shrink as the ground expands and contracts, destabilising buildings.

More severe storms and heavy rainfall also pose a threat to historic buildings.