I was around eleven years old when I saw an episode of a documentary series about great houses in Britain and the episode which I saw revolved around Chatsworth House. I feel in love. Ever since it has been high on my places to visit and it was when we were away for the week of Platty Jubes that I finally got to go there… with a bearded boyfriend in tow.
We went there on a Tuesday and quickly realised it was half-term which was not ideal but it was nowhere near as busy as I thought it was going to be. Driving up to the house was beautiful. I had completely underestimated how grand the house and its’ estate was. I don’t know why but I had always assumed that the photos and video clips I had seen of it had been taken from a certain angle or edited to look grander than what it actually is. I know, so stupid. We got a house and garden ticket so started our day in the house, which was perfect as the heavens opened just as we entered the house.
As I have mentioned, Chatsworth was far grander than I had anticipated and as such, I have far more photos and things I want to share about it than I thought I would. With that in mind, I think this will be a series of posts rather than just one so buckle up! But before I ramble on about the amazing things we saw there, let’s begin with a bit about the house and how it came to be.
The estate was originally obtained by the Cavendish family in 1549. Sir William Cavendish and his wife Elizabeth -more commonly known as Bess of Hardwick, began building a monumental house on the estate. There are few relics from this Elizabethan era that still remain but of them is the hunting tower, built in the 1580’s and the Queen Mary’s Bower which was used as a fishing platform. During this time or more precisely between 1569-1584, Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner at Chatsworth various times. There are still apartments in the house named the Scots Apartments.
Of course many who visit Chatsworth are more familiar with the 5th Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish due to his wife Lady Georgiana Spencer. Heralded the fashion icon and ‘it girl’ of the age, she was a trendsetter for all and is widely known by the masses today due to Keira Knightly’s portrayal of her in the film The Duchess. Also known for her menage et trois with her friend Lady Elizabeth Foster and her husband, some know of her and her life more intimately from the popular book by Amanda Foreman, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire. I actually have a small book review on here of that book. here are many areas of the house which showcase the 5th Duke and Duchesses life but I’ll touch on those in other posts.
All the elements and areas that I fell in love with at Chatsworth were all brought about by the 6th Duke, more commonly known as the Batchelor duke. Having made such drastic changes to the house and gardens, I do wonder how Chatsworth would look today had his influence not have been bestowed upon the place; and for that reason I find him the most notable of the previous line of Dukes. I will go into his influence a lot more in future posts but the 6th Duke commissioned the architect Sir Jeffery Wyatville to build the north wing at Chatsworth which contains his Sculpture Gallery as well as employing Joseph Paxton to completely transform the garden. Paxton was the brains behind so many beautiful features in the garden such as the Rockerie, the glass conservatory and the Emperor Fountain; which consisted of engineering a man-made reservoir high above the house for a gravity-fed jet to produce the impressive heights for the fountain.
There are so many things I could mention in this post but I will refrain and not go on a complete tangent -yes, I am capable of restraining myself! Stay tuned for more posts on this wonderful place. Trust me, there is so much more to come.
Cheerio for now!