Today’s my eldest nephew’s 9th birthday – Happy Birthday, Logan! We’ve sent him a book that is set in my local area: Chatsworth House, a stately home dating to the 1550s which is the home of the Duke of Devonshire. Since I’ve visited Chatsworth House, I thought Logan might like to see some photos of what it looks like these days, either before or after he reads that book. Others might enjoy it, too.
We went on 30 August, 2008, so it’s a bit of a blast from the past to look at these photos, but I’m sure it hasn’t changed too much since then.
First we explored the grounds …
First we explored some of the grounds.
The sign only tells us about the grounds (Chatsworth Park), not the structure.
There wasn’t a sign anywhere describing this, so we were left wondering what it was.
This is where Chris got all nervous that I’d fall in. Silly man.
There were cars as far as the eye could see — we went on the weekend they’d chosen (unbeknownst to us) to have a Country Fair, which people came from far and wide to experience. Considering how many cars were there, and how small the area for the fair was, I’m shocked they could even walk through it.
Just ignore the cars.
The part of the house they’ve opened to the public is the part they built in anticipation of King William and Queen Mary (reigned 1689-1702) coming to visit. How the other half lives: houseguests? Time to build another wing onto the house! The visit never happened, but it does make for a good showpiece to open for tours. There weren’t any guided tours available, so I got an audio tour and listened to that.
Then we went into the house …
Seen from just inside its surrounding wall; this is one of the front gardens.
A cool gate in the garden.
Looking out from in front of the house. This was the most impressive (to me) of the front gardens.
Three US Rebel Flags, the star spangled banner, the union jack, the English flag, and the Welsh flag were all present in the Country Fair..
The courtyard. These bronze greyhound dogs were made by Nicola Hicks, and acquired by the current Duke and Duchess in 1994.
The ceiling of the Painted Hall.
The staircase of the Painted Hall.
Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefor art thou oh Romeo?
A view from the upper floor of the Painted Hall. They didn’t let us onto the Juliet balcony, alas.
Everything was incredibly ornate.
These stairs were built in the 1600s and wrap around along three walls, if memory serves. It was originally built without that railing you see, and was quite radical for its time, using a cantilevered system. It was shored up in the 1800s with the cast iron railing you see, cleverly crafted into sculptural ornament, when it was found the stairs had weakened and needed support at the outer edge of the steps.
Above those stairs.
Not everything is perfect; these things are awaiting refurbishing. It’s apparently really hard to deal with multi-century-aged tapestries. Tis why we’re here: many titled landowners have opened their fine houses to gain the revenue so as to have the money to keep their places (and things) up. I do wish they’d do away with half the furniture in this hallway, put all the tapestries on one wall, and let us actually get a good look at the tapestries (walking through the hall, roped off, of course).
The room we’re in and several that follow were constructed in anticipation of King William & Queen Mary’s arrival to visit. The Great Chamber is where they would hold court. It sits on a corner, and this is the view out of one side.
This is the ceiling of the Great Chamber, the room the king and queen would have used to hold court. The ornate paintings on the ceiling continue throughout the state rooms they expected the king and queen to use. Each one illustrates a Greek myth. It’s said they all pay homage to William and Mary in various ways.
From the other side, we can see the Emperor Fountain (more on that later), along with a sculpture in the current Duke and Duchess’ collection.
These thrones were in the State Drawing Room, where the king and queen could take care of business with select members of the Court. These chairs were used by King George III and Queen Charlotte in 1761; the 4th Duke got to keep them as a perk of his job as Lord Chamberlain.
Everything was ornate. Seriously, everything. The cabinets are done by, or in the manner of, the French cabinet maker Andre-Charles Boulle, and are veneered with turtleshell, pewter, and brass. The housekeepers daren’t take a cloth to clean these, my audio tour told me, lest a cloth accidentally dislodge a brass piece from the veneer and cause thousands of pounds’ worth of necessary restoration work. Yikes.
The State Music Room. More such cabinets. This was originally the Ante-Chamber, but was re-named by the 6th Duke, when he inserted a door into the center of the wall — not to go anywhere, but to showcase a painting of a violin that looked like a real violin was hanging behind the door. Really.
Oh yes, there’s also this harpsichord in the music room.
Some tourist probably knocked the candle off-kilter. Those tourists!
This toilet service was likely a gift to Queen Mary II in honor of her marriage to King William III, given Mary Countess of Devonshire, wife of the first Duke, in recognition of her husband’s support of William in the 1688 revolution. Toilet services were used during the morning ritual of the levee, which could last several hours, during which the lady would receive visitors.
This gorgeous chandelier was in a really small room, just beyond the State Closet, which was the only place the king and queen could go to be alone. They had to be in the closet. Not their bedroom, I note. Royalty, I’ll never understand them.
The chapel. Remaining unaltered from its original form, built between 1688 and 1693, this chapel has “Doubting Thomas” painted over the altar, and some fantastic carvings in the limewood by Samuel Watson and partners.
The altar – check out the limewood carvings. And Aunt SJ, listening to the audio tour! This chapel was used daily for a couple of centuries, if memory serves, and weekly until sometime last century, and is now used primarily for special occassions.
This room was really cool. Ironically, the family got most of its wealth (and lands) when King Henry VIII broke up the monasteries; the 6th Duke got the oak panelling and carved heads in this room at an auction; their original home was in a monastery (this one German, though). This room showcases the 6th Duke’s eclectic taste, and I much enjoyed it. From the house guide: The 6th Duke gave his own account (1845) of the various uses to which this room was put: “… and to this room I remember banishing the learned Parr, when he insisted on having a room to smoke in — a desire then (1813) considered most atrocious and derogatory…”
Diana Bathing. This is in The Grotto, a room whose sole purpose seems to be to support the Great Stairs above it. This bas-relief was bought in 1692, and looked quite nifty.
Chris was taking lots of photos while waiting for me to finish this segment of my audio tour.
The Ante-Library. I can’t believe we didn’t get pictures of the Library and Ante-Library, but we do have pics of the books on the shelves. They all look much more impressive than any book collection I’ll ever have, but then, the audio tour made sure to point out that the Dukes have been book *collectors*, not so much book *readers*. They have some 50,000 books in the entire house, some 5,000 of which are from before the printing press. Wow.
Then we looked around outside the house a bit …
The back of the house. That upper-most floor is actually open to the elements! Chris’ mum said that it was said that it’s like that so that if the family feels like getting some fresh air, they need not be down among the commoners.
Another of the sculpture collection.
A very long and skinny greenhouse.
More of the back of the house.
The Emperor Fountain is trying to attack Chris!
The side of the house.
Headed back towards the car.
The Peak District – I live just on the edge of this, England’s first National Park. Absolutely stunning scenery.
Then we were home! Hope yall enjoyed the trip. 🙂