After entering the house, one of the first rooms we came to was the Chapel and oh my, it was truly stunning. It was built in the late 1600’s, before the 4th Earl was created the 1st Duke of Devonshire and has remained pretty much unaltered ever since. Back then it would’ve been used for the family and staff to attend daily prayer and today it is still used but instead for family events such as the christenings of the Duke and Duchess’ grandchildren.
The entirety of this room is truly a piece of art. I honestly couldn’t get over how stunning it is and couldn’t help but keep craning my neck every which angle so I didn’t miss a single bit of it. The walls and ceiling were painted by Louis Laguerre – get used to that name, when they found someone they loved they stuck with them.
The 1st Duke employed the artist Antonio Verrio to paint the altarpiece entitled ‘The incredulity of St. Thomas’. The carving around it was carved by Chatsworth’s go-to guy, Samuel Watson (1662-1715), and it’s a mix of alabaster and black marble. The intricate details of this carving are just astounding! Watson also did the carving of the cedar panelling through the Chapel too. The two figures, representing Faith and Justice, were both made by Caius Gabriel Cibber (1630-1700).
The gold sculpture at the altarpiece is Saint Bartholomew, Exquisite Pain (2008) by Damien Hirst and currently on loan to Chatsworth. It is a representation of Saint Bartholomew, the christian martyr who was flayed alive for his beliefs. It is cast in gold-plated silver and the bodily details are harrowing. The ridges of each muscle and vein popping out are intense but the detail of his own skin being draped over his arm as though his skin is one body of fabric is something else. It was a really interesting piece to have in a chapel but just fit so seamlessly.
We then moved on through to the Oak Room, a space which was transformed by the 6th Duke after he bought some wood panelling at auction. It was fitted some time between 1839-1841. This room was originally used as a summer breakfast room but has since been a storehouse for the library, storing both manuscripts and records of the experiments performed by the scientist Henry Cavendish, who just so happened to be the Dukes cousin. It was also used at a time as a billiards room. Now it is used to display certain paintings while looking out to the South Lawn and the Seahorse Fountain, which is one of the oldest features of the garden. Built for the 1st Duke of Devonshire between 1688-91.
The Oak Room of course consists of a lot of wood panelling but within that are these amazing carvings throughout the room. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Dark Shadows and the carvings that come to life at the Collinwood Mansion. Within the wooden panelling are small oil paintings depicting different scenes by John Wilson Carmichael (1800-1868). This room displays many oil paintings featuring the house, the garden and even pets; both of previous and the current Duke and Duchess.
I really loved the carvings of this room. Like I said, they reminded me so much of Dark Shadows which is one of my favourite films. Going through historic places like this, you definitely start to pick out where prop designers and location scouts get certain set ideas from. I will leave that here for now, stay tuned for the next post on our time at Chatsworth.
Cheerio for now!
**If you didn’t catch my first post on Chatsworth House you can view it here.