“ Chatsworth / Bakewell / Derbyshire / DE45 1PP / Tel: +44 (0)1246 565 300 (24 hrs) / Fax: +44 (0)1246 583 536 / Email: email@example.com. „
~x~x~ Our House, In The Middle Of Our Street ~x~x~
During a recent weekend in Bakewell we decided to split up, Mark taking Charlotte go-karting while Hollie and I took a trip to Chatsworth House - a place I've wanted to visit for years but have never gotten around to it. I jumped at the chance to introduce five year old Hollie to a bit of culture, and as she'd been learning about royalty at school as part of the jubilee celebrations I knew she'd love the aristocratic slant to this day out.
I could bore you with a lengthy history of Chatsworth House, but there are more knowledgeable articles available online - what I will say is that this 16th century wonder is well worth a visit; fun, interesting and absolutely bursting with history. I knew from the grand exterior that I was going to love it, when I glanced over at Hollie to see her staring up at it with her mouth open I guessed she was going to enjoy it too!
Various admission packages are available, we opted to visit the house and gardens which cost £24 for the two of us. Concessions are available so check if you're entitled to a discount before handing your cash over, we weren't but saved £10 by virtue of incoming rain deciding us against paying to visit the farmyard and adventure playground. I then squandered most of this saving on a guide book, which I didn't refer to once during our walk but it's a lovely keepsake and we've looked at it several times since coming home. Audio tours are available, as are guided tours which take place at certain times throughout the day.
~x~x~ Who Lives In A House Like This ~x~x~
Once you've paid (and taken a moment to get your bearings) you climb a short flight of stairs and are guided to the left - and it's just a few short steps later that you enter the realm of 'gawking'. There's something to see from the moment you turn the corner; I knew it was massive from the huge scale of the exterior, but that didn't stop me being shocked at the absolute hugeness of the inside! Wow! The ceilings are so high as to induce vertigo if you look up for too long and the size of the rooms themselves is amazing - hell, there's even room for a stagecoach with life size entourage in the main hall!
Artwork is everywhere; covering every wall, the ceilings, in balconies - it's almost overwhelming. OK, so I like a nice painting as much as anyone but was surprised at how much enjoyment I got from the eclectic mix of art that's dotted on every single foot of wall space of every single room in Chatsworth House. Paintings of dogs alongside portraits of long dead previous residents of the House, some pictures I recognised even as a total art heathen and that before anything else reassured me that Chatsworth is indeed full of gems. Things are reasonably well marked, although the onus is clearly on the enjoyment of the art rather than an educational aspect - in the rooms dedicated to paintings there are 'keys' at various point where, if you want to, you can work out who painted what. I realised these keys were worth deciphering after unexpectedly finding myself in front of an oil painting of, ummm, a horses bottom by Lucian Freud - not the most exciting of our art finds but both me and Hollie found this picture incredibly amusing!
I was amazed to see a Rembrandt painting on display, a sketch too in the Old Masters Drawings Closet as well as the stunning Leda and the Swan ink drawing by none other than Leonardo da Vinci. Honestly, when I woke up that morning I hadn't imagined I'd be face to face with the works of some of our most famous historical artists - the room given over to the Old Masters is really small, but the effect is excellent and rather than being an insult it showcases the incredibly historical works beautifully. Everything in this room is exquisite, they are mainly detailed sketches but the history value to me stopped me in my tracks - Hollie was suitably impressed with the da Vinci, having talked about it at school, and even took a photo of it so she could show her teacher.
There's more than wall art though - jewellery is heavily featured at certain points around the House, ornaments such as the incredibly beautiful rose pyramids from Delftware which were large ceramic structures designed so you could pop a colourful bloom into recesses along the pyramid for a riot of colour; there are intricate incense burners, sculptures, crowns and tiaras. Wooden chests of such amazing workmanship that the uber impressive thing is that they were made by hand over a century ago (two centuries!) as the detail within the carving would need some kind of laser cutting tool these days! I pointed out Elizabeth of Hardwick's initialled pendant to Hollie and something about it appealed to her as she stared at the pretty trinket for at least two minutes, asking questions that I could only hope to answer with the help of a nearby (and wonderfully patient with an inquisitive five year old) guide who explained the Bess of Hardwick connection to her in a way she'd understand - also, picking up on her current monarchist stance he made a point of touching on Mary Queen of Scots imprisonment at Chatsworth House under the guard of Bess and one of her many husbands.
It's easy to see everything as visitors are 'herded' around by use of ropes and guiding staff, while this might sound a little stifling it actually works very well and ensures you see everything with the option of skipping areas which are of no interest to you. You have to remember also that the Duke and Duchess of Devon live here so as a paying visitor you see only the public segment of the House - just imagine how sumptuous their living quarters must be?! Hollie was completely in awe of the staircases and I would have said this was actually her favourite part of the whole house until we came across the totally amazing State Bedroom, which I'm sure she's planning to model her own bedroom at home on. I must admit this was one of my favourite rooms too, although we were both very impressed with the beautiful exhibition based around the Queen's coronation, including a showing of actual footage of the coronation as well as a display showing the connections between Chatsworth House and Her Majesty.
We looked at everything, far too much to recount in this review - but let me tell you that, providing you're a history and/or art fan, you find yourself absolutely spoilt for choice for things to look at. I think Hollie was a bit overwhelmed at times, I noticed she stayed very close and at times didn't seem to know where to look - I was thrilled by how much she enjoyed it, not once getting bored despite a crowded and pretty heavy atmosphere. I think I've finally bred a little person I can enjoy the finer things in life with! She did start getting a bit bored but by then we were pretty much at the end of the route through the house, I made the quick decision not to take her into the dressing up room as a) it was packed and b) she clearly wasn't in the mood by then and really I wanted to whizz her through the rest of the house and out into the gardens where she could let off some energy.
We lingered in the library for a few minutes, listening to the live pianist playing 'of the time' tunes - here Hollie had her photo taken standing next to an imposing portrait of one of my historical interests, King Henry VIII. This is a Hans Ewood painting dating back to circa 1560 and was a shocking surprise to see in the flesh. It's little things like that that made me fall in love with Chatsworth House, while everything is stunningly beautiful there are some real treasures within the house that stand apart from everything else. After the library we spent a while in the old orangery which is now the Chatsworth gift shop. Now, I adore gift shops and can honestly say this is an excellent one with an impressive range of gifts and souvenirs to choose from to suit all ages - it's pretty expensive I must admit, but the quality of everything available made it good value for money. I bought three fridge magnets, a thimble for my mum and a wooden jangly bell toy for Hollie and was more than a little surprised to find myself paying over £20 for these small knick-knacks - but I consoled myself by thinking it could have been worse if Hollie had insisted on the replica giant foot statue she'd spotted which cost a whopping £45!
~x~x~ The (Not So) Secret Garden ~x~x~
And then we headed for the gardens - and boy, what a garden! The first thing we planned to look for was the maze which Hollie and I had spotted on the website before our visit, this turned out to be about as far as possible as you could get from the House itself so although we went straight there we had plenty of time to look around while we were walking. The garden is very well sign posted so that you can find all the major attractions pretty easily, it covers a huge amount of land though so be prepared for a lot of walking (and maybe a little cursing when you realise you've missed a small but important sign post and ended up far away from your intended target!).
I must discuss the maze first, Hollie wouldn't want it any other way. Absolutely a-MAZE-ing! The walls are so high I was worried my claustrophobia was going to kick in, but after a few minutes I was so determined to get to the middle that I forgot all about being so hemmed in. We made it to the middle in around half an hour, but only because we happened to find a young lad who knows the maze like the back of his hand and was prepared to allow us two simpering females to follow him - unfortunately he disappeared once we actually got to the centre and it took us much longer to get back out again! It was worth it though and Hollie's excitement absolutely thrilled me as she'd been so excited to find there was an actual maze within the grounds of Chatsworth House (and thereby discovering they're not just in fairy tales) that to find her enjoying it so much was an absolute delight.
The Cascade is another point of interest which lies just beyond the House; this is an early 18th century water feature (for want of a better word) which comprises dozens of large steps to create a staircase over which water pumped from the lakes cascades down, it sounds like a waterfall and in my opinion looks much better from a distance than close up. Above the Cascade stands The Cascade Temple, a small but imposing structure which acts as a stunning fountain at the top of the watery steps - we didn't walk to the top as Hollie's legs were just about giving out by this point, but from the base of the Cascade it looked absolutely fabulous and I honestly doubt I'd have been any more impressed had I seen it up close. One last water feature I want to tell you about is the fabulous Willow Tree Fountain, or the 'squirting tree' as Princess Victoria renamed it - this is actually a water 'trick' which was surely highly impressive when it was created centuries ago and is actually just as impressive today! It's a brass-work imitation tree which literally rains water from various points within it's branches, it was stunningly beautiful despite the fact that we visited on a pretty dreary day but a guide told Hollie that sometimes in the summer you can glimpse tiny rainbows dancing around the tree as the sunlight catches the water - and this later proved to be true as a piccie in the guide book actually shows this is the case, I felt mildly cheated after seeing the photograph actually as the girly nymph in me would love to stand next to such a low down rainbow!
Water actually features very heavily in the gardens of Chatsworth House, partly due to the fact that the owners over the centuries have wanted to keep up with their continental neighbours (where water features have historically been used to great decorative effect) but also to make their small part of the world as beautifully spectacular as possible. And they done this, with bells on! I kept having to stop and think because if the various ponds, waterfalls and fountains are so stunning to me in 2012 how amazing must they have looked back in 1812 and earlier? It's superb, really. The craftsmanship that has gone into these features is absolutely stunning and despite being very much a non-nature loving city girl I couldn't help but gasp in delight at some of these incredible creations.
What I love about these gardens is that you're not restricted in the slightest - you're welcome to walk on the grass, picnic wherever you fancy (only a total idiot would litter this beautiful area) and they allow dogs on leads with the obvious proviso that owners must clean up after them. It really is wonderful to be able to wander around without worrying about being somewhere you shouldn't be; I actually found it amazing that despite the fact that Chatsworth was busy Hollie and I still managed to feel secluded and alone in certain parts of the gardens, the gorgeous Rockery being a prime example as the huge rocks (these are seriously nothing like the smashed up teapot rockeries I remember from my grandma's garden) manage to conceal every nuance of noise from other parts of the garden. This is where we decided to linger a while and eat our sandwiches and other goodies as I found it so tranquil, Hollie enjoyed clambering over the rocks and I'm certain it was here she burned off so much energy that she fell asleep within minutes of Mark arriving to pick us up!
Dotted around the garden are large and highly impressive statues, most of which are permanent features with a very few either being on loan from other aristocratic establishments or temporary collections used to showcase either the general area or the work of a specific artist. I was actually quite disappointed when we visited as I'd seen a sculpture of a gigantic baby which I was really looking forward to seeing, unfortunately I'd misread the website and found myself there a couple of years too late! My bad! This didn't stop me enjoying other statues in the garden, but I do recommend you check out what's on before your visit if there's something in particular you desperately want to see. My favourite was a huge (and rather scary looking) rabbit sculpture named 'Drummer' which is near to one of the ponds - I don't know what it is about this particular statue but it really caught my imagination and I found myself casting long and lingering glances at it as we walked around the rest of the garden, but then I suppose that's what art is all about! There are a huge amount of these statues and I'm positive we didn't manage to see them all; if outdoor art is your thing I would certainly recommend getting into all the nooks and crannies of the gardens because they really are everywhere, Hollie's favourite was a tall and very weather beaten stone sculpture of Pan, who she swears is Peter Pan and to date I haven't had the heart to tell her it's another character entirely!
I could literally go on and on about the gems to be found in the gardens of Chatsworth House and I haven't even touched on the Kitchen Garden (where melons are grown!), the visually stunning Pinetum (a treat for Christmas lovers such as myself), the incredible Emperor Fountain where the water jets up to 90 feet high and the amazing greenhouses which are still in use today. Everything, I repeat, EVERYTHING is worth seeing and even if you don't fancy looking around the House I still recommend a trip to the Estate if only to take a leisurely walk around the gardens - in fact we plan to do this as a family early next year as Mark and the older girls have no interest in historical buildings but loved our photographs and tales of the gardens so much that it's now on their bucket list! Next time I definitely want to see the farmyard and adventure playground as they would be fun for Hollie, although a lady I was chatting to in the House told me they're not exactly in keeping with such an otherwise historical and cultural day out!
~x~x~ Time For A Snack ~x~x~
After a few hours of wandering amongst these treasures you may well find yourself hankering for sustenance, and for this I wholeheartedly recommend a trip to Flora's Temple Tea Shop, a small place located in the gardens where you can purchase a range of drinks and snacks. The Cornish Pasty I ate was deliciously fresh and full of flavour, but I could have chosen from a reasonably wide range of sandwiches, cakes, biscuits or ice creams - Hollie had what I initially thought was a plain vanilla cornet with a flake, but after stealing lick while she wasn't looking I quickly decided that this ice cream was much too good for children as it was of such high quality I'd expect to find it served in a fancy restaurant rather than in a cone for a five year old! Amazingly tasty! I had a very nice coffee which was hugely called for after so much walking, the prices in Flora's being a little on the bizarre side but worth it to ensure a much needed sit down and relax. If you'd rather take in the Chatsworth atmosphere with a more formal meal you can visit The Carriage House restaurant, which specialises in freshly cooked local produce prepared by Chatsworth's own in-house chefs - the menu quite literally changes by the day (as do the prices apparently!) but when I browsed a menu during our visit I saw that hearty stews and chicken dishes seem to be the order of the day. I chose not to eat here simply because we were in picky-picnic mode that day and were planning to eat out in the evening so decided it was overkill, I must admit my mouth was literally drooling when I spotted the large chocolate fondant dessert being devoured by one elderly gentleman - it was as much as I could do not to dunk a finger into the chocolate goo oozing out of this particular dessert as I passed, and I'm certain Hollie made him feel uncomfortable with her wanton staring as she walked past his table!
~x~x~ A House For Everyone ~x~x~
So, Chatsworth. What can I say? Hollie and I had a fabulous time exploring both the House and gardens, we both obviously got very different things from our visit but we both enjoyed every minute of it. There was a lot of walking involved but the Estate is set out so beautifully and cleverly that you forget about your aching feet and just continue plodding on until you've seen everything of interest. Disabled visitors are surprisingly well catered for considering many historical houses refuse to make full adaptions for wheelchair access, Chatsworth has a lift and guide system which will take even the largest of wheelchairs around the house - it is recommended that you book in advance if you have anyone with mobility problems in your party, only due to the fact that the upper floor simply doesn't have the space for too many wheelchairs and it would be such a shame to arrive and realise there's simply no room for you through no fault of the building or staff. For this same reason pushchairs are not allowed in the House, although they do provide a range of baby carriers if you're visiting with little ones who wouldn't be able to manage the walk. Mobility scooters are available to hire free of charge for use in the gardens and there are also 'buggy tours' around key points within the garden for those who can't walk around it themselves, or I suppose anyone who fancies being driven around at a leisurely pace regardless of whether they have mobility issues or not! I certainly fancied hopping onto one of the buggies and it was only the thought of Hollie missing out on things she wanted to see that stopped me!
We spent hours at Chatsworth, much longer than I'd planned to. I'd guesstimate we had at least an hour and a half in the House itself, followed by an hour just chilling around the general area of the tea room (in case of a coffee emergency) and another two hours, maybe more, in the gardens. We left feeling weary but ever so slightly overwhelmed by what we'd seen during our visit; I think it's testament to the quality of the place that even now Hollie will reference it some two months later, even her teacher mentioned it at a recent parents evening after she'd likened a piece of art they were shown in class to a painting we'd seen at Chatsworth. That might not sound particularly impressive, but at five years old (and with the same ditzy memory as her mother) I think that's absolutely great and all down to the wonderful way that this fabulous building manages to bring history and art to life.
Chatsworth house is situated in the Peak District in Derbyshire in beautiful countryside. It is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire. It stands on the banks of the Derwent River surrounded by 11 miles of parkland. The gardens alone cover 12 acres.
Building of the house began in the 1500's after the land passed from various owners finally being purchased in 1549 by Sir William Cavendish, treasurer to the King. His wife was Elizabeth Hardwick the second richest woman in England after Queen Elizabeth I. Bess persuaded him to buy the land and she was instrumental in the construction of the house. The house is built in a quadrangle so that there is an inner courtyard which was the in thing of the day.
Bess Hardwick went through four husbands and the fourth one being George Talbert the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury who was instrumental in the imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned several times in Chatsworth house on the top floor apartment of the house which are now known as the Queen Mary Rooms over the great Hall. Bess acted as a confident to Mary Queen of Scots and often accompanied her on garden walks in Chatsworth. They spent many hours embroidering tapestries together and some are still preserved at Chatsworth House being over 400 years old. Bess mixed with the highest circles of nobles in the land including Queen Elizabeth the 1st. She was quite renowned for her supervision and overseeing of building massive properties.
Bess died in 1608 leaving her estate to her second son William Cavendish who was created the 1st Earl of Devonshire ten years later. The fourth Earl became the first Duke of Devonshire in 1694 and the Dukedom continues in the Cavendish family right up to the present day with the current Duke of Devonshire being Peregrine Andrew Morny Cavendish being the 12th Duke.
William Cavendish began to rebuild Chatsworth in 1687 but maintained the Tudor courtyard despite it going out of fashion and finished the re construction in 1697. The house has changed little since.
One other quite famous people to live here was Georgiana Spencer who married the fifth Duke of Devonshire who also installed his mistress in the house. Georgiana rekindled her relationship with her first love but was forbidden to continue her relationship. The film the Duchess has recently been made which tells the about the life of Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire. She was a remarkable woman who moved in the highest echelons of society. On her death she gave her blessing to the marriage of her husband the 5th Duke of Devonshire to his long term mistress.
The present day.
The house is still inhabited by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and is open to the public throughout the year. At various times of the year certain parts of the house are closed to the public for house cleaning and restoration. There is currently an on going programme of repairs to the outside of the house which is known as the master plan which will make it more accessible for people with disabilities and to update and replace some of the water and electrical supplies to the house. The house is so delicate that the scaffolding on the outside of the house is free standing so that it does not come into contact with the house itself.
A tour to the house will take you through large state rooms starting from the grand staircase after which you ascend to the first floor. There is currently an exhibition of some of the clothes that Georgiana and others wore during the film The Duchess displayed in the house. The rooms are very richly decorated and ornate with priceless works of art, statues, fine porcelains and silverware tapestries some of which were made by Bess Hardwick and Mary Queen of Scots during her imprisonment at Chatsworth before she was beheaded. The house is very much a family home and one can get the feeling that it is very well cared for and loved by the family so that it can be shared with others. The house has been used at various times during the shooting of films.
The inside of the house is very dark because to open the sun blind curtains it would cause irreparable damage to the art work and murals on the ceilings and walls. The rooms are quite colourful, exquisitely laid out and not drab or miserable at all. The standard of furniture and fittings is of the highest quality. Each Duke has left his stamp on the house and it has acquired art from famous artists such as Rembrandt, Vandyke and Gainsborough. It takes approximately 2 hours to walk around the house and the state rooms which after completion of the master plan should be available to all to enjoy.
There are some fantastic views from the house leading down to the Derwent River. There is an ornate bridge crossing the river which is still in use today.
The chapel is absolutely beautiful and the altar is carved out of marble and alabaster. IT was built in the 1700's. It is still in use today and the new additions to the Devonshire dynasty are christened here. The walls are covered in delightful murals and also on the ceiling. At the rear of the chapel there is a gallery for the Duke and Duchess to sit.
The music room contains various musical instruments and a grand harpsichord and the thrones of George the 3rd and Queen Charlotte. There is a very large painting of the second duke of Devonshire and murals on the upper wall and ceiling. It is a light and bright room and would be very convivial for those sitting listening to any music being performed.
The landscaped Gardens.
The gardens cover an area of over 105 acres and are beautiful on the eye which has taken shape over the last 400 years. Famous gardeners employed at Chatsworth include Lancelot Capability Brown and Joseph Paxton. Around the house are formal gardens and parterres, waterfalls and a long lake with the very big water fountain known as the Emperor fountain which can be seen from widely around the estate spurting up high into the sky over the trees. There are approximately five miles of pathways through the garden.
At the rear of the house there is a cascade dating from the time of the 1st Duke of Devonshire in the 1800's. The water features are very unique because they are fed by water from a reservoir at the top of the hill and are entirely supplied and displayed by gravity alone. At the top of the cascade there is a small temple and the water in the cascade is circulated twice before entering the Derwent River. The water comes out of two Griffin like animals, and two fountains. There are 24 steps down which the water cascades. Sometimes when the water supply is abundant it also comes out of the mouths of two dolphins in the walls of the temple. Likewise the Emperor fountain is gravity fed.
Dotted around the grounds are neo classical statues and also modern pieces of art. It all looks very tasteful. There is a massive rockery area designed by Paxton and it is well developed with mature plants. Just before you reach the rockery there is a weeping willow with water shooting out of the branches. The rockery leads via a pathway to a small pond that is full of fish and decorative silver balls which move around with the wind gently clunking into one another.
To the right of the pond there is the Maze which was planted and surrounded by a rose garden. It is quite difficult to find the heart of the maze and at times you think you are so near and yet you end up in a dead end, We did eventually find the heart of the maze.
If you continue walking past the maze and up the hill through woodland you come across another lake and grotto. There are look out areas dotted around the gardens which gives spectacular views over the gardens, house, river and parkland.
There are green houses, herb & vegetable gardens.
There are extensive parklands of approximately 1000 acres with grazing sheep and dear offering wonderful vistas over the undulating and rolling hills of Derbyshire.
Chatsworth house is very well signposted around the Chesterfield and Matlock areas and quite easy to find. If you are using GPS then the Post code is DE45 1PP.
By train, Alight at the Chesterfield station you can catch a bus out from the town centre out to Chatsworth which takes approximately half an hour.
Price of admission:
TO see everything Chatsworth has to offer the price is :
Adult: £16 or online save 20% £14.40
Children £10 or £9 on line
Concessions for Senior Citizens
/Students £12.50 and £11.25 if booked on line.
The winter season for this year add £1.50 per ticket.
The house and gardens only:
Adults £11.50 or £10.35 if booked on line.
Concessions : £9.50 or
Children £6.25 or £5.64 on line.
The gardens only
Adults £7.50 or £6.75
Concessions £6 or £5.40
Children £4.50 or £4.05
Other facilities at Chatsworth.
Childrnes play area.
Parking is £2 for the day.
Hours of opening.
Gardens 10:30 - 6PM
House 11:00 to 5:30PM
Farmyard 10:30 - 5:30PM
Shops 10:30 -5:30PM
There are various events held throughout the year at Chatsworth including flower festivals, music festivals, fine dining events, behind the scene tours, The Chatsworth Country fair.
Bonfire and firework display. Horse trails.
You can check out what is happening at the Chatsworth own web site at:-
It is one of England's most beautiful and historical houses well worth a visit for both young and old. I think that small children would find the house a little boring but the gardens are all open and they would enjoy that. I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Chatsworth house for both young and old.
I am afraid that as objective as I shall try to make this review, I am absolutely infactuated with the Chatsworth estate. This is due to my life and Chatsworth interlinking throughout the years through different events/happenings. First of all, the Chatsworth estate is not far from where I live, probably about 20 minutes in the car which has meant that I have visited many times from my childhood trips with school to my more recent visits. (If you don't want to read about my personal love for Chatsworth please skip to paragraph 4 :-)).
Although I have many good memories of my visits to Chatsworth, a fairly recent event, rekindled my love affair with the estate. I was playing an extra in the film the 'Duchess' which was filmed in the grounds in front of the house and I suddenly had a brainwave which was to write my dissertation on the life of the character I was playing (a tenant) during the time that the film was set. This was a great relief as I had been struggling with coming up with a dissertation title for quite a while.
This gave me the opportunity to study and research in some great places including the Chatsworth archives (which are as fantastic and awe inspiring as the house and grounds) and to pore over some very interesting documents. In the end, I got a first for my dissertation and I really don't think I could have achieved this if it had been on a different subject. I now own a vast collection of books on Chatsworth- both rare and not so rare and am really just a bit of a fan.
Anyway enough about me...... I will split my review into the different parts of the estate which may be of interest to people:
Chatsworth House: The house itself can only be described as stunning. My favourite time to view the exterior is at night when the house is lit up in an etherial blue colour. Of course, the only time to view the inside is during the day (apart from select evening openings) and in my opinion, it does not disappoint.
There are often special displays on in the house so you need to check the website on a regular basis to see what is on when. Generally, you are greeted by beautifully dressed rooms, adorned with hundreds of pieces of artwork which have been collected by the Devonshires over the centuries. If you wish to learn more about the items that you are seeing in the house, you can buy an audio guide, guide book or go on one of the tours. I haven't personally done any of these but I think if you are likely to have a lot of questions then getting booked on one of the tours would not be a bad idea. The house is open to the public until the 23rd of December this year although I believe it is closed on the 31st October.
I think that the house deserves a 4.5/5. It usually very much depends on what is on display at the time that you visit.
The Gardens: The gardens at Chatsworth are not only breathtaking but they are also varied, fairytale like and fun. There are ornamental, formal, very pruned sections of the garden. There are also numerous sculptures- some which are very traditional and others which are not only modern but innovative and unexpected.
There are beautiful waterfalls including one which looks like it is from the set of an Indiana Jones movie. A recently discovered coal tunnel is also now open to the public which is delightful. There is also the fairly large and intricate maze which is a favourite with children and which I can never find the centre of.
You feel like you are always discovering something new and exciting in the gardens and there are 105 acres to explore.
I give the gardens 4.5/5
Farmyard and adventure playground: Although I haven't been here for quite a while, I do remember that it was incredibly good fun playing in the adventure playground. It had fantastic zipwires and rope bridges and I think I fell over a few times and then sprang straight back up in excitement to go on the swirly slide. As far as the farm yard goes, I loved animals and still do so I pretty much loved seeing the sheep and cows- although I think I liked the chickens the best.
Going from my childhood memories and not forgetting that it has most likely changed since then, I give the playground etc another 4.5/5.
Events: There are many events on throughout the year at Chatsworth including the famous Chatsworth country fair but my favourite is the 'Bonfire and fieworks' event. I loved it so much last year that I have been eagerly waiting for tickets to be on sale for this year (which they are now). The whole event was fantastic, great food and atmosphere. The house looked amazing lit up and the fireworks were stunning. They lasted for a good ten minutes at least and were set off in time to classical music.
I give the Chatsworth events in general: 5/5
Farm Shop: The Chatsworth farm shop is just around the corner from the entrance to the grounds and is well worth a visit. They sell some lovely, fresh local produce including fruit and veg, pies and baked goods such as cakes and bread. If you are not a vegetarian, I can highly recommend the good quality venison sausages. I like the farm shop very much but think it is a little overpriced. Since it is so close to the grounds, I think it would be worth just having a browse if you haven't been in before.
I will not score the farm shop seperately as it is not an official Chatsworth attraction.
Prices (at time of writing):
House and garden- Adult £11.50, Child (under 3 free) £6.75, Concessions £10.75 Family ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children)£30-£35 depending on season.
Garden only - Adult £7.50, Child £5.25 (under 3 free), Concessions £6 Family ticket £21
Farmyard and adventure playground - Adult £5, Child £5.25 (under 2 free), Concessions £4, Family ticket £19.50
You can also purchase season tickets, please check website for up to date prices.
If you book your visit online, you can save 10% on the price of admission although this is usually subject to a booking fee of £1.
I'm sure by now that you all know my feelings about Chatsworth, so if you haven't already been, think about visiting as in my opinion it is one of Britain's best historic houses.
Since there isn't a 4.5 option, I am being generous and giving it 5 :-)
Summary: Chatsworth House is a well-maintained stately home set in fantastic grounds comprising gardens, fields, wooded areas, vantage points and a farm centre.
Features: The main house is a fantastically well kept and brilliantly maintained example of a fine English stately home. Staffed by guides and helpers, there is an abundance of interesting period features, and the coffee shops and souvenir shops provide a good end-point to the tour.
The gardens are superb and you can explore for hours around the various sections. If you are feeling a little adventurous, you could also paddle in the gigantic 'cascade waterfall' and explore the hidden delights of the more secretive gardens which are spread across the hillside.
You do, of course, have to pay to get in to the House and Gardens, but the remaining grounds are open and accessible to all.
Comments: Chatsworth House is tremendously popular with people of all ages. It attracts families, coach parties, older visitors and picnic parties. However, visitors to the main house may find a prickly reception if they are a little younger. We went a few years ago with my parents and my wife and I (as professional-looking twenty-somethings) were treated with a brusque and somewhat abrupt tone by the admission staff, who insisted that I remove by backpack before entering. This was fine, and completely understandable, apart from the fact that several older visitors around us were passing by with similar backpacks without any bother! My parents took objection to this and ultimately lodged a complaint over an incident which unfortunately cast a shadow over an otherwise enjoyable day!
However, this may well be completely isolated and I would still heartily recommend that this should be on the list of places to visit in the Peaks for all visitors!
Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is one of the most popular stately homes in the country, and I think deservedly so. Aside from the majestic building and exceptionally well kept grounds, the farm shops and children's play areas including a farm yard, there is a strong sense of openness and welcoming for all guests as the Duke of Devonshire, following his father's footsteps, has kept a huge portion of the house open to the public.
Chatsworth House has many events which attract visitors including horse trials, classic motor shows, proms in the summer and the house is spectacularly dressed at Christmas. The Chatsworth gardens also are a major feature with a progressive greenhouse, a fantastic maze and the famous 300 year old cascading fountain which is great fun to walk up because it is made from various sized steps, but be careful, its really slippy!
I do love to visit the House and the staff create different displays, the current one is Chatsworth in the movies with original costumes, photos, writings and props from films including Pride and Prejudice (the BBC version and the one starring Keira Knightley), The Duchess (again starring Keira Knightley) and soon to be released horror Wolman (starring Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins). I thoroughly enjoyed this display as the main feature was the Duchess and included original diary entries made by Georgiana which were censored by Bess of Hardwick and dresses worn by Keira Knightley in the film.
I also love to visit Chatsworth to eat the delicious food which is all organically produced on site, especially the ice cream after a steak sandwich, just scrummy!! The gardens are great to take a picnic too, but you don't always have to pay and sit within the grounds, but you can sit just outside on the sprawling land and sit by the river, just next to the House and eat your picnic there. This is hugely popular on sunny days and many families come to jump in and out of the river on a hot day and enjoy lunch in the shade of the trees, a grand setting to say the least! You can also go to the farm shop just a short drive from the House to pick up homemade jams and beautiful cuts of meat; they aren't the cheapest, but worth every penny.
The entry prices and times are:
Open every day until 23 December
The house, garden, farmyard, gift shops and restaurant are open until 23 December 2009
Park open all year, no charge
All day carpark charge at Calton Lees and the house car parks is only £2. Parking for visitors with an Estate Pass; Friends of Chatsworth Gold Card; and disabled badges is free of charge
11am to 5:30pm, last admission 4:30pm
11am to 6pm, last admission 5pm
Farmyard and adventure playground
10:30am to 5:30pm, last admission 4:30pm
The shops in the Stableyard are open from 10:30am to 5:30pm and the Orangery shop is open from 11am to 5:30pm
Carriage House restaurant and Stables grill and drinks
10:15am to 5pm. Hot food served at lunchtime
The Cavendish Rooms
10am to 4:30pm. Hot food served at lunchtime
Farm shop in Pilsley (1½ miles)
Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5:30pm
Sunday, 11am to 5pm
Having grown up nearby Chatsworth House I have visited many times. I have always enjoyed it my visits and never been disappointed.
When visiting Chatsworth there is so much to see.
The house itself is amazingly decorated and it takes a couple of hours to walk round and see everything properly. Everytime I visit I find something new in the house that I have not seen previously.
The gardens are also breathtaking and really worth a visit. They are very extensive and you can easily fill a couple of hours walking around and exploring.
If you are visiting with young children there is also a farm and adventure playground which can be enjoyed by children of all ages for many hours.
Visiting Chatsworth is definitely a must if you are in the area and if you can visit around Christmas time it is really worth it as the christmas decorations are out of this world!
I have taken many different relatives and friends here (from as far away as America) and they have never been disappointed. If you enjoy stately homes then Chatsworth house is a must see. It has been featured in many different films and as you walk around the house you can definitely see why it has been chosen as a location.
Chatsworth is a great day out, it has extensive gardens to look round and experience, an ornately decorated house to tour and a restaurant which serves great food.
As I live and grew up vaguely near Chatsworth I have visited it quite often. There is a farmyard and adventure playground to take the children to, which is where I went when I was younger. Recently though we went to the house and gardens. The gardens are magnificent and seem like they go on forever, there are the kitchen gardens which is where they grow fruit, vegetables and herbs. There is a rock garden where the rocks tower above you. There are sculptures dotted around the gardens, one of which is a squirting willow tree. There are also fountains and waterfalls. One attraction that everyone seems to like is the Maze, practically impossible to get to the middle of but when you do you find a lot of people overjoyed to have gotten there, all they have to do now is get back out!
The house has a lot of history and a lot of paintings and objects to look at and things to read about the house and its history. You can also pay £2.50 for an audio tour which tells you about the many rooms and people who lived there. It was kind of interesting but I wouldn't go back inside the house as I think it's a one time visit place. But this is just my personal opinion as I'm sure other people would have found it more interesting and would go back.
We went to the restaurant in the courtyard of Chatsworth for dinner, I can't remember what it was called but it was the indoor one! The prices aren't that much and you get a lot for what you pay. There isn't a wide range of hot meals but there was enough choice to keep a vegan happy.
Chatsworth is enjoyed by people of all ages which was evident by the wide range of visitors roaming around the place.
Pricewise I think Chatsworth is expensive to get into especially if you go to the house and the gardens. For the gardens I think it is about £8 for an adult and about £10 for the house. This made me quite glad I had a corporate pass and didn't have to pay to get in! If I had to pay though I would have gone in the gardens as they make a nice day out but wouldn't have gone in the house as it wouldn't have been worth the money. The car parking is £2 for the day but i don't think this is too much especially if you stay for the whole day.
I would recommend going to the gardens and the restaurant and if you have children it would be good to go to the farmyard and the adventure playground. If you are interested in history then you might find the house more interesting than I did or if you have a corporate pass it might be worth going to but I wouldn't pay the money they ask for and I wouldn't go to the house again. However the exterior of the house and grounds is a good photo opportunity if you like taking that sort of thing.
In my previous review about Haddon Hall I mentioned about how lucky I am to live near so many historic houses and castles. One of the most impressive, and possibly well known, of the ones not too far away form my house is Chatsworth House.
~~~WHERE IS CHATSWORTH?
Chatsworth House is in North Derbyshire, not too far from Baslow and Bakewell. To get there by bus from Chesterfield (this is my only point of reference because this is the only place I have travelled to Chatsworth from - usually the way if you live in a particular place!) you need to get the number 170 to Baslow. From here you can either walk to the house (it's about 2km, so decide for yourself if you wish to do this), or wait in Baslow for the number 214. This is the bus you would be getting if you were coming from Sheffield and it is the Wirksworth to Sheffield service.
By car you need to follow the signposts to Baslow on the A619 - there is a car park near the house, but this costs £1.50 (which on top of the entrance fee to look around the house it will make your day quite pricey). A tip if you don't mind a walk is to drive to the south end of the park and park (is that too many parks?) for free at Calton Lees - this does mean you have about a mile to walk, but as it is through the grounds, it is quite nice on a good day.
~~~HOW MUCH DOES IT COST & WHEN DOES IT OPEN?
Some of the house is open all year round, so you can access Chatsworth Park (which covers 1,000 acres), the farm shop and the restaurant attached to the shop when the other attractions are shut for the season. The House, gardens, farm, gift shop and restaurant are open from the middle of March to late December. Admission times to the various areas are as follows:
House 10.30am to 6.30pm, last admission 5.30pm.
Garden 10.30am to 7.00pm, last admission 6.00pm.
Farmyard and adventure playground 10.30am to 5.30pm, last admission 4.30pm.
Prices for entry as of the 2007 season are:
House - Adults £10.50 (£12.25), Senior citizens/students £8.50 (£10.25), Children £4.00 (£5.00), Family ticket is £25.00 (£30.50) (Prices in brackets include the Scots rooms; nine additional rooms in the area of the house that was home to Mary Queen of Scots when she was imprisoned here between 1569 and 1584, not always open).
Garden only - Adults £6.75, Senior citizens/students £5.25, Children £3.25, Family ticket £15.00,
Farmyard and adventure playground - Adults and children £5.00 each. Children under 3 years old are free.
They have a special Twilight opening, which means that after 4pm the admission prices to the house are reduced.
Groups of 5 or more get a lower rate of £4.00 each for the standard rate and Senior citizens are charged £3.50.
A Family pass for all attractions is available at £45.00 - this does sound quite a lot, but if you are going to go in all the areas as a family then it is probably the best way to go.
~~~A BIT OF HISTORY.
The original Chatsworth House dates from the time of Bess of Hardwick and her husband Sir William Cavendish, who were responsible for the house being constructed in the late 16th Century. This house was started in 1552, when Bess convinced her husband to build a grand house on the site of a former Manor House. There is very little left of this first phase, although some of the interior walls are from this period, as is the Hunting Tower that overlooks the house. Various bits were added and rebuilt during the 17th and 18th Centuries; with the North Wing and the Library being built in the late 17th and early 19th Centuries.
The Park and formal gardens are the creation of the famous landscape gardener Capability Brown, who was commissioned by the 4th Duke of Devonshire in the 18th Century. A while later, during the time of the 6th Duke, the gardens came under the remit of Joseph Paxton, who created the wonderful Emperor Fountain and made the garden as a whole pretty much as it looks today.
~~~WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
***Park and gardens***
A walk around the Park is always a lovely way to start the day at Chatsworth. Of course you do need the weather to be ok for this because it can get rather muddy otherwise. From the park you will see the woods, some lovely views of the magnificent house, lots of sheep and, if you are really quiet and lucky, some of the deer that reside here. Driving through the park at night usually affords the best glimpse of the deer because there are less people about. You can also go and visit the farmyard, which can be found behind the house. Here you can see a variety of animals and maybe even see milking and other farm related demonstrations - this is of particular interest if you have children to entertain because there is also an Adventure Playground located in this area.
The gardens cover 105 acres and are really rather stunning. There are areas that come to life in each season of the year, meaning there is something nice to look at whenever you go there. You can take a variety of walks around the gardens and things to see include sculptures, formal hedges, rare trees, temples and flowers. You can have your picnic in the gardens (you CAN walk on the grass) and even take your dog here (provided you keep it on a lead).
Perhaps the most impressive thing to see are the waterworks - these include the 24 stepped 300 year old Cascade waterfall, the Willow Tree Fountain (which actually does have water coming out of a willow tree) and the tallest gravity fed Fountain in the world (which can reach up to 298 feet!). I have fond memories of paddling on the steps of the cascade when I was little when we had some sunny days!
Other notable things to look out for in the gardens include the maze, the sensory gardens and the sculpture park.
Of course the main reason for a visit to Chatsworth is to the wonderful house itself. You HAVE to visit at least once in your life just to see how overwhelming it is! I would recommend one visit in summer and one to see the house decorated at Christmas to witness it at its best. As you enter you will find that (for security reasons) you will have your bags searched and will be asked to leave any larger bags outside).
Once inside the highlights include the Painted Hall (the first big room you will reach) full of impressive wall and ceiling paintings, the Oak Room (the oldest room) which has very old oak panels and carvings, the Scots Chambers (in the East Wing) and the amazing works of art that abound throughout - my favourite piece is the painting of a violin that really looks real! Every room in the house is a joy to look around and it is possible to spend hours wandering around - the only problem is if you happen to time your visit with a coach party because you can feel a little hurried around!
At the moment there is also an exhibition about the life of the 11th Duke of Devonshire, who died a couple of years ago. It spans 8 rooms and celebrates his life and his dedication to preserving and promoting the House and the local area for future generations. He was a fascinating man and the exhibition is pretty interesting to visit - especially because it has an informative audio tour.
Please remember though that there are quite a lot of steps, so a tour around the house may not suit someone with mobility difficulties. If you take a push chair you will be asked to leave it because they are not allowed in the house - again due to the safety implications on the steps.
I can wholeheartedly recommend a visit to Chatsworth despite the quite high charges for entry. There are lots of different attractions to go to and a visit can last a whole day if you take your time when looking around.
It is so much more than just a stately home!
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THIS REVIEW WILL APPEAR ON OTHER WEBSITES - BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
Chatsworth House was built for Derbyshire in this beautiful part of England's Peak District. Over 400 years of history has proved it's chosen position serves its family, its environs and the 650,000 annual visitors to perfection.
Dominant in its stunningly rural valley, Chatsworth House is so palacial but has all the history and ambience of a grand family home. It offers a visit to the house, parks, adventure playground, magnificent gardens, a farm shop and a really unusual water feature which cascades down the hill behind the house and much more if you have the time.
This is certainly a case of first impressions count. It has the wow factor from the road and once you park up and walk anywhere on the estate you are in ``wow'' mode. Well i was and still am when I talk to people about my visit there or show them the hordes of photos.
I had picked it out of a special visit offer in a Britain stately homes type book: a two for the price of one deal, so we set out from London to visit it on our way to Chester. On the map the two looked quite close but in reality you would need to visit early in the day to see a good deal of what makes Chatsworth House memorable. We arrived around 2.30pm and did the house tour and the farm shop so this review sadly will not include personal experience of the massive 35,ooo acres (14,000 hectares) over Derbyshire and Staffordshire which makes up the Chatsworth Estate: adventure playground and gardens with lovely water features we spied through the house windows, rivers, villages, farms, woodlands and other big and small businesses.
Sir William Cavendish and Bess or Hardwick (1500s) would be justifiably proud of the home they built then, if they could peak in at it nowadays. They purchased the manor of Chatsworth in 1549 and oversaw building from 1552 over many years. When Sir William Cavendish married Derbyshire woman Bess of Hardwick he may well not have known how persuavive she was: she urged him to sell his southern interests and to move to her county. He did, and the rest is history. They built a home on what is now Chatsworth House and it has been welcoming vistors ever since. And welcome they do.
On the day we visited we actually saw the then Duchess of Devonshire walk through the rooms, busy in her role of preserving the treasures for which you can see many of her awards, presented to prove her conservation responsibilites while she was Duchess, with the late 11th Duke who died in May 2004.
Thanks to her and a dedicated support team of conservationists, repairers and other trades people Chatsworth House must be one of the most treasured family homes in the United Kingdom.
Chatsworth House is a bit different from other stately homes because it really does give you a feeling of being lived in. Even though the current family obviously resides in other quarters, the house is so wonderfully presented, there is a family presence; it's a treat to be in every room.
My favourite area is the bedrooms where we saw Chinese painted wallpaper which I think was over 100 years old - magnificent. The amazing drapes over the beds were so beautifully printed and bobbled I will never forget them. Near here I remember the old thrones sent to Chatsworth House by a ruling King and Queen of England, way back.
The attention to detail is evident in the
Green Silk Room. The stripey wallpaper, obviously green, was apparently a bit tatty over several hundred years so they arranged for experts in the south of England to learn the trade to remake as close to the original green stripe wallpaper as possible. I believe it took them a year to learn how it was made and to do new papers in the same technique and to replace them.... the result is fantastic and it is such a pity I cannot provide pictures of this and the other stunning aspects I caught in the whole roll of film I took at Chatsworth House.
If you go you must see the Chapel: I was fascinated by the huge marble feature in the high ceiling room, stunning. Also, near here I talked to the guide about the wooden room and he advised that one of the Dukes had seen an entire room of wood in Italy (I think) and had bought it and had it shipped to Chatsworth and used in a delghtful feature room which is still there for all to appreciate.
All through the house you marvel at famous works of art which were mostly collected by the second and sixth dukes as well as the third Earl of Burlington. In the 18th century the second Duke was an expert who history says had an ``infinite love of the arts and a deep knowledge''. It's thanks to him you can now see a valued collection of Old Master drawings and fine paintings. The 3rd Earl of Burlington added furniture of William Kent for Chiswick, Inigo Jones designs and along came the Bachelor Duke in the 19th century, the 6th Duke who acquired works from international neo-classical sculptors in Rome.
The library has to be one of the best private libraries to be found in the world as it has over 30,000 books including books of fine bindings over the last six centuries, a good lot of them are there due to the diligence and interest of the 6th Duke of Devonshire.
I didn't visit the Archives but it is apparently a true and reliable source of learning about every day life at Chatsworth House since that formidable first dweller, Bess of Hardwick and all those who helped her and subsequent guardians of this most magnificent historic house.
You cannot visit Chatsworth House without coming away hugely impressed at the collection: British and Old Masters, watercolours, portrait miniatures, sculpture, woodcarving, ceramics, gems and gold and silver, clocks, instruments used in science, photographs and changing special exhibitions. What impressed me is the quality of the treasures you see and the magnificent rooms they are housed in. You really need to go a second time to take it all in. I do so look forward to going back to absorb some of the things I am sure I missed the first time.
We spoke to one of the friendly, very approchable ''stewards'' in the rooms and he estimated that Chatsworth House has around 4000 years of history in many different aspects taking in craftsmanship and art including the two royal thrones we saw, lace work carved from wood, a titanium fan of a Rolls Royce engine and a clock made of russian malachite. He was particularly proud of the fact that Chatsworth has some really different items to show how people lived and worked in centuries past, not only in Britain but all over Europe.
As in some other public ``treasure buildings'' you can speak to the room stewards, use the audio guide or the guide books, all as you see it.
`The Palace of the Peak' is honestly beautiful, it's design and the way it has evolved as a people place is truly a huge value to restoring the past in a way which catches the imagination of today's people.
You can walk for miles, shop in the modern extremely well stocked farm shop and eat in its restaurant all year round but the garden, farmyard, house and gift shop is closed over winter. This year due to open on March 15, (2006).
People visit for the day to take in the facilities but you can go for special educational tours, sewing days, or if you fancy following in the footsteps of Prince William you may well be able to negotiate a ``Work Experience''Day! Wonder if he took one of the Park Rides on a special trailer (which takes wheelchairs) for an hour long tour around about.
You can actually ``live'' at Chatsworth House as it offers a variety of accommodation options on the estate: guest houses, holiday cottages, two caravan sites and the next-door Cavendish Hotel will welcome you when you visit this most beautiful part of England.
Since his father, the 11th Duke died in May 2004, the 12th Duke, Peregrine Cavendish (Born in the same year as me 1948, but history has proved he has achieved quite a lot more than me in terms of real estate!!!) has challenges ahead. He is no doubt helped by the foresight of his father when he set up the Chatsworth House Trust, after three years negotiating with the government to ensure the future running of Chatsworth House would be financially secure, to serve as an asset for the public at large. It now stands proud, as an historic benefit for all; a preservation of house, contents, garden and park. I'd put it high on my list of ''English Bests'' and have no trouble recalling my visit there.
It's in the Peak District National Park, a dominant feature as you drive in this rural wonderland, don't drive past, you are doing yourself a grave injustice - it's stunningly, seriously sensational.
There's never a better time to visit as during 2006 there is to be an 8 room exhibition which celebrates the life and achievements of the 11th Duke, Andrew Cavendish (born 1920 and died 2004). See the rare books as well as the amazing Lucian Freud paintings along with little bits and pieces which make up the 50 years plus of public life of this great man whose stewardship of Chatsworth House has added emmense interest to its inventory. (I took a look into a website to get this agenda for 2006, I keep up with what's happening there as I am truly fascinated with this memorable place.)
You can see large conservation work as it happens when the walls of the Painted Hall are spruced up during the time up to June this year: around 300 years of dirt and grime will come off as you watch it happen.
The park is open year round and there is no charge.
Garden open 11am to 5.30pm.
House is open 11am to 5.30pm.
Farmyard and adventure playground open 10.30am to 5.30pm.
Shops open 11am to 5.30pm.
Carriage house and restaurant and the stables : 10.15am to 5pm.
Jean Pierres bar 11am to 4.30pm.
HOUSE AND GARDEN : ADULTS gbp 9.75 (gpb12) SENIOR CITIZENS/STUDENTS gbp7.75 (gbp10), CHILDREN GBP3.50 (GBP4.50) fAMILY TICKET gbp 23 (GBP28.50) Bracket price includes the Scots Room: 9 additonal rooms in house, not always open.
There are other prices for pre-booked groups.
Garden only: adults gbp6, senior citizens/studens gbp6.75, children gbp2.75, family ticket gbp14.50.
Farmyard and adventure playground: adults and children gbp4.50, under 3 year olds FREE. Group prices offered.
Family pass for all attractions: gbp42.00 (2 adults and up to 4 children).
Car park: one pound 50.
??????????????.. Chatsworth House, Baslow near Bakewell ? was the home until the recent death of the late 11th Duke, and his wife the Duchess (now the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, Deborah, nee Mitford (who celebrated their Diamond Wedding anniversary in 2001). Chatsworth House built by Bess, Countess of Shrewsbury (owner of Hardwick Hall) when she was married to William Cavendish, Earl of Devonshire. The earl?s descendants, later helped William of Orange and his wife Mary to the throne (overthrowing James I) (see item on my Derbyshire article about Revolution House) to be promoted to Dukedom. It was said that the reason they became Earls of Devonshire and not Derbyshire is because there was already an Earl of Derby and the Devonshire title was the only one available at the time! The 12th Duke of Devonshire, formerly Lord Hartington, continues to allow visitors to this stately home and in May 2004 launched a website www.chatsworth.org which has information on events, the history, exhibitions, times of opening etc. A very good website to say it has only recently been launched. There have also been improved bus links from Chesterfield, Ripley, Matlock and Bakewell with a "green travel initiative" with regular link-ups with a Chatsworth Estate minibus, which takes you through the Golden Gate entrance (not usually open to the public) and straight to the front door. The initiative also includes a money-off voucher for the house and garden if you travel by these buses. Open to the public all year round for walks and most of the year for access to the farm, house and gardens. Various large events held here annually, including the Angling Fair, Horse Trials, and other events held less frequently like the Guide/Scout International Peak camps, held about every 4 years or so. I have never visited the farm or the adventure playground, but have heard rave reviews about them from other peop
le. I have been as a St John member round the gardens with a group of disabled people in wheelchairs and can say that parts of the grounds are inaccessible for wheelchair users and this includes the maze and some of the gardens surrounding this maze. It is possible to push a wheelchair along the riverside and around some of the winding paths, but others are blocked by the fact that there are a series of steps to negotiate, which may also be difficult for pushchairs. If the house is on your right hand side as you walk through the gardens, the river is on the same side. Do not miss the water spout (weather permitting) on the river (near the house) on the way towards the maze. The main entrance to the gardens only is halfway up the hillside on the right hand side (above the house). If you go through the house, you will eventually leave by the gardens lower exit, near the greenhouse and herb gardens. It is possible to just visit the gardens of this wonderful tourist attraction, but that would not do the place justice. Near the entrance to the garden is a courtyard surrounded by what was the stable block, but has been transformed into a toilet block, café, and shop. In the courtyard is a fountain, which is usually working and has been seen to be used as a paddling pool in very hot times. The last time I visited Chatsworth, there was an MG rally so my boyfriend and his mate went round admiring the cars, whilst I went round admiring the gardens and the grounds. We had a picnic by the river and the fellas enjoyed exploring the maze, the area round the bandstand (near a small lake) and a folly. If we had had time, we were hoping to walk up to the Hunting Tower, but the weather deteriorated so we did not bother. However, we do intend that we will visit the house when the Christmas decorations are on. My boyfriend and I have yet to visit the house together. I have been several times and was presented with my Gold Duke of Edinbur
gh brooch by the late 11th Duke of Devonshire and also a Denby plate commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Duke of Edinburgh group I got it with. Both these presentations took place in the Painted Gallery, which mustn?t be missed. I have not yet visited the Scots Suite, as you have to pay extra for this and the last time I wanted to but it was closed for refurbishment. Another reason to go back!! I find that you can never say, ?I?ve done it all? because they do add/alter things. At the moment, there is a Mitford exhibition to commemorate an anniversary of a member of the late 11th Duke of Devonshire?s wife?s, (Deborah Cavendish, nee Mitford, (now the Dowager Duchess)) family. The late Duke will be missed, but hopefully the new Duke will build on his father?s achievements and we will continue to have many more days out at Chatsworth. DIRECTIONS: Off the A619 Baslow Road, go past the Golden Gate entrance (no access for pedestrians) into Baslow, past the Cavendish Arms, to a roundabout. Turn left at this roundabout (near the Baslow Parish church, which has a special clock with the word ?Victoria? instead of numbers, which was done to commemorate Queen Victoria?s Jubilee (Diamond, in 1897, I believe), follow the road round and it is signposted for Haddon Hall and Chatsworth. Just keep following the signs and turn left into the estate and drive past Edensor (where the Duke and other family members are buried). Be careful as the road is narrow and cars may be coming the other way over the narrow hump back bridge. Chatsworth can be seen in the distance and the tower in the background to the left is the Hunting Tower.
There aren't many that can fail to be impressed by their first view of Chatsworth House. Driving over that little one way bridge, over the cattle grid and into the beautiful grounds of Chatsworth affords some fantastic views of the surrounding countryside, with its magnificent forests high on the hills and the gentle babbling of the shallow river. Sheep graze the side of the road and occasionally, if you are lucky, you might catch sight of a magnificent deer standing proud on the horizon. These are scenes that wouldn't be out of place in any picture postcard but it is definitely the house that is the showstopper. Known as the palace of the Peak, this is one abode that would be too grand, even for the enigmatic Mr Darcy. This is of course the home of The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been the family home for many hundreds of years. A popular tourist attraction Chatsworth has continued to change and grow to meet the demand of the tourist over the years and is a fantastic day out for all the family. I think what surprised me the most was the number of changes that had happened at Chatsworth since I had last visited as a child. I think you get the impression that these old stately homes remain the same and untouched and in the case of the house and garden this is very much the case but to it's credit, Chatsworth has recognised the fact that the tours of the house and the garden strolls weren't actually catering for the children and so they introduced the farm park and the children's adventure park. I don't know about you but I think that this is a very clever ploy by the Duke and Duchess. I know that along with some of the great new places I have visited, I have made a point of returning to some of the places that left their mark on me as a child. Capturing the hearts of the young child will ensure that in years to come young adults with their extended families will return to Chatsworth in the same way we did.
So what is there to see and do at Chatsworth? Well the house is fantastic. I have to tell you that this is the most stately of stately homes. I was amazed by how ornate and regal this house is. If I am honest it bordered on garish. Many of the exhibits on display wouldn't have looked out of place on one of Graham Norton's lavish sets. These included four thrones, some outlandish sculptures, lavish ceiling decorations and the type of furniture the antiques roadshow would die for. I think the highlight of this tour were the paintings. I mean it's not everyday you get to see an authentic Rembrandt now is it? I have to say that the kids found the whole tour a little tedious and were itching to get on with it. The gardens of Chatsworth are a delight. There is so much to see and do. There are all sorts of plants, flowers and trees for you to see along with many really interesting sculptures. The children enjoyed the maze and I sneezed my way through the magnificent greenhouses, rock gardens and cottage gardens. I think for me it was the water features that I enjoyed the most. The Emperor fountain with its high pressured jet of water, the many ponds and the 'squirting tree' where the water seemed to spring from the branches of a willow tree. The most magnificent of all is of course Chatsworths most famous water feature the 1st Duke?s cascade. This is a great flight of steps with water running down them like a river of weirs. It's magnificent and definitely worth the price of the admission. I will not dwell on the Farm too much as, as you can imaging it's full of chickens, pigs, sheep etc. One thing I would advise you to look out for is the chicken house. Can you believe that this is a listed building? Sounds like these are very lucky chickens. There was a milking display and you could touch some of the animals. The smell of these places can be overpowering at the best of times and on a hot, sticky d
ay I was not in the mood for pig poo. There is a café in this area. To be honest we didn't stay too long in here, there are a lot of farm parks near where we live and the children were not keen to hang around. They wanted to get to the adventure park. The children found the adventure park great fun and Mark and I were happy to watch them play as we drank tea and sat under the trees. There was a great big trampoline for James to skylark about on and there were climbing ropes in the trees and lots of slides and rope swings. There were sand pits and swings and things for the little ones too. It was a really hot day and the kids were soon shattered. An excellent opportunity for me to get back to what I do best....Shopping. Leaving the house and grounds and following the signs down the road we found ourselves at the famous Chatsworth Farm Shop. The shop was quite an experience I can tell you. Established in 1977 this is the Duchess's baby. Here they sell much of the produce that is grown or reared on the land. Let me remind you of those chickens that live in that listed chicken coup. Well here you have the opportunity to buy the eggs that they produce and subsequently them too, if the legs and thighs on display at the butchers counter were anything to go by. It was awful really to think that many of the sheep and lambs that had grazed so close to the car would end up on the shelves on this shop alongside their friends, the deer. There was of course so much more on sale here. Cheeses, preserves, cakes, vegetables and chocolates were all on sale here, along with the finest wines and malt whiskey but I have to tell you to do your weekly shop in here would need a re-mortgage. I bought some preserves to take home with us. It was really funny to see Marks face as we walked around the shop. Poor fellow shook whenever I took something off a shelf. Must have thought his poor wallet was in for a hammering bless him. It was hugely expensi
ve, immaculately clean and definitely worth a visit. Instead of the old plastic shopping basket there were wicker ones. All the staff wore little aprons and hats and were extremely polite. This was a royal shop, charging royal prices. If I remember right a half dozen of those royal eggs would set you back nearly two pounds. Chatsworth has it's own restaurant too but to be brutally honest we couldn't afford it. Ok now for the important stuff. Not only is Chatsworth accessible to the disabled, it has a number of electric chairs available free of charge. (Well done to them) They do advise that people with mobility problems visit during the quieter times (Mid week) Car parking costs a pound but I will warn you that when we went it was huge but there was very limited space and people were parking on grass verges in some really silly positions. Toilets are immaculately clean but I found them quite hard to find sometimes. Souvenirs were available everywhere but were extremely expensive. It can get really busy here it's a very popular attraction. Chatsworth is 8 miles north of Matlock, off the B6012. It is 16 miles from junction 29 of the M1, signposted via Chesterfield, and it is 42 miles from junction 19 of the M6. The railway station at Chesterfield is 30 minutes away, by taxi Admissions. All Attractions ...Family pass Thirty two pounds! (This is a money saving pass for a family with 2 or more children; it is valid for one visit to each attraction but these do not have to be on one day.) House and Garden Adults Eight pounds fifty Children Three pounds Farm and Adventure park Three pounds ninety for everyone. Personally I found the admission charges to be really reasonable but everything else was really expensive and certainly overpriced. You definitely had to pay for the privilege of using the
Dukes cup and saucers. On a hot and sunny afternoon, many people come to Chatsworth just to sit by the river and watch the kids as they splash around in it's extremely shallow waters. There is no charge for the grounds themselves and this is a great place to picnic and take in the fantastic views. My youngest spent hours playing in the river. It was very relaxing and lots of fun. There is a free car park for those not going to the hall as you come over the bridge and into the park.( There are toilets here and an ice cream seller) I hope I have showed you how much there is to see and do at Chatsworth. We shall be going back next year but Mark says if I go near that shop again I can walk home.
It’s called Chatsworth House – but it’s a lot more than just a House. At Chatsworth, there’s extensive gardens, a farmyard, Adventure playground, parklands, sculpture – plenty for a good family day out in fact. The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire live there, and the Duke’s family has been there for 450 years. So it’s not owned by the National Trust, it’s a ‘private’ concern, but it’s all very well very well executed and well maintained. House – over 30 rooms are open for view. The Painted Hall, the Dining Room and the State Bedroom are especially notable, but it’s all very sumptuous. My favourite room has got to be the State Music Room, with its famous trompe l’oeil violin painted on a tucked away door. The Scots Rooms are a separate part of the house, for which you will need to pay extra to visit. It’s where Mary Queen of Scots lodged on her monthly visits to Chatsworth. Handpainted Chinese wallpaper is a special feature of these rooms. Gardens The Casade is the most famous feature of the gardens (landscaped by Capability Brown) –There’s also the Emperor and Willow Tree fountains. The Emperor Fountain is the tallest gravity fed fountain in the world, very impressive, but ultimately not very relaxing to watch. The water features can be affected by rainfall, so if we ever have a very dry summer, you might be disappoint. Otherwise, you’ll usually find scores of children paddling in the water covered huge steps – and this seems to be actually welcomed, rather than frowned upon, as is the case at some stately homes. Charges House and garden Adults £8.00 (garden only £4.50) Children £3.00 (garden only £2.00) Senior Citizens / Students £6.00 A family pass (£30.00) is a good idea if your group qualifies. This allows 2 adults and up to 4 children admission to everything – and if you donR
17;t go to one part, you can use the pass to return to it on a later day. Entry to the parkland along the banks of the Derwent is free, all year round. Entrance to the car park only is £1.00. Disabilities – it’s a good place for wheelchair users, especially in the gardens (a map is provided, warning of the more hilly routes, which can be avoided without missing a great deal) although parts of the house ill be difficult to reach. several very friendly Several electric scooters can be borrowed, free of charge, staff show you how to use the electric scooters Dogs are allowed in the garden, but must be kept on a lead. There are 2 Cafes and a restaurant. And you’re never far away from an ice cream as there are kiosks in the car parks and gardens. Toilets – the ones in the car park are fantastic. Maybe even the best I’ve been to outside posh department stores. Quality fittings, clean, they’ve thought of everything and it makes you feel like you’re being viewed as a special visitor, not just some hoi polloi. Shops Carriage House Shop and the Orangery Shop (both open from midmorning until 5.30) stock the usual gifts, books, etc. Chatsworth Farm Shop is good for produce from the Estate – meat, game dairy produce, bakery products, as well as English wines and beers. Also shop online at www.chatsworth-house.co.uk House and gardens open from 11.00, (10.30 in June, July and August) Last admission to the house at 4.30, to the garden at 5.00 This year the opening season is from 2nd March to 22nd December (extended from March to October in 2001) Location – very near to Bakewell, with Buxton and Matlock all within a few miles. 30 minutes’ drive from Sheffield. Telephone 01246 565300 More information at www.chatsworth-house.co.uk
Chatsworth House the Home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, set in many acres of parkland near Bakewell in Derbyshire. I first visited Chatsworth about 10 years ago and found the house and gardens to be outstanding. Now with two children aged 10 and 5 , I was a little unsure about a return visit, but with some new attractions and good weather things turned out rather well. Things to do at Chatsworth. * Tour the House. * Walk in the Gardens. * Visit the Farm and Adventure Playground. * Walk and picnic in the parklands. * Visit the farm shop. Parking is £1.00 after that you can use the park area for free, or pay to go into the House, Gardens and Farm/Playground. You can buy separate tickets for any attraction or a combined ticket. We bought a family pass for everything, which meant that you could use different sections of the pass on any day during the season. On our first visit the children wanted to visit the farm and adventure playground. Because of foot&mouth the animals on the farm are somewhat depleted with no cattle, sheep, pigs or goats. There is a clear sign warning you of this before you buy your ticket, and of course the milking demonstrations are cancelled because of this. But there are still guinea pigs,rabbits, horses including a shire, many varities of chicken , geese and my favourite ducks of course. There are organised times for children to pet the furry guinea pigs and rabbits and egg collecting in the chicken coop. There are sinks, soap and hand dryers for washing after handling animals or collecting eggs. You follow the steps and the noisy squeals up to the adventure playground. On the way up to the play ground you will find a not so secret "secret tunnel", this is an alternative way for the more adventurous amongst you to get to the play area. It consists of crawling through a large pipe and then climbing a ladder, and yes I saw adults as well as kids give it a go. <br> The playground is divided into two main areas, one has a large complex of ladders, slides, rope bridges etc to explore, the other has smaller versions of the same plus some sand and water play. Although my daughter is only five she was soon clambering about the larger stucture with her big brother. The playground is set up in the trees, and the constuctions are all made of natural wood, metal and nylon ropes. It has a lovely natural feel and look, is protected from wind by the trees and seems to be very sturdy. There are first aiders patrolling around in red overalls and a little first aid hut, should you child get any cuts or grazes. Despite it being quite busy I didn't see any casualties. By the time we persuaded them it was time to look at something else, it was lunchtime. There is a cafe for families at the farm, but we had taken a picnic with us.My little girl insisited on helping me fetch the picnic from the car, and was then furious when she had her hand rubber stamped as a pass out. We used the picnic area at the farm, there are picnic tables down by the duckpond. This turned out to be a highlight for the children as Maisy Mallard waddled up from the pond with her five ducklings to share our lunch. After lunch we returned the empty picnic basket to the car and went to visit the gardens. The gardens at Chatsworth are spectacular and large, with fountains, ponds a maze and one or two other surprises. Revelation.. This is a modern water sculpture fountain, it looks a like a flower bud , and opens and closes. It's not easy to describe and I found most people were fascinated trying to work out how the mechanism of this impressive water feature worked. The Cascade .. water runs down a series of steps down the hill towards the house. This is a huge stucture, as the water cascading over the steps is only shallow many children and adults use it to paddle and cool their aching feet. My children ripped off
their shoes and socks and decided to walk from top to bottom. This all went well until my daughter slipped and sat down firmly on her little bottom. She had a little cry, mainly due to hurt pride rather than physical injury, took off her shorts and completed her journey in T-shirt and knickers. The Maze.. this is a traditional maze built from hedges, I thought this would occupy the kids while we waited for Aprils shorts to dry in the sun. We didn't find the official route to the centre but did find a way using a well trodden gap in the hedge, I suppose you could say we cheated. By now the children were a bit tired, so we decided to go back to our holiday lodge and 'do' the house another day. On the way back we visited the farm shop which is about a mile and half away from the house at the village of Pilsley. Farm shop is not really an accurate description, it's more of a farm supermarket. It sells fruit and veg, produce from the estate, meat, has a lovely cheesecounter, real dairy icecream, handmade chocolates, cakes and much more. We leant on a wall in the carpark and admired the view, while we demolished our dairy ice creams and conversed with a herd of friendly cows. The Second Visit. Feeling brave that day, after a morning shopping in Bakewell to stock up on puddings we decided to return to Chatsworth to tour the house. We arrived at lunchtime and picnicked under a tree in the park. Out of nowhere came half a dozen chickens looking for a free lunch. Now I haven't mentioned this earlier in the opinion, but there are a lot of free range chickens at Chatsworth, they have free range of the whole park and gardens, not just the farm area. Now my parents used to keep chickens and they didn't bother me that much but my son got quite nervous when they had the audacity to walk allover the picnic rug to get crumbs, and then attempted to drink orangeade from his beaker. Waving of arms and shouting o
f shoo just ended in their beady eyed defiance, so I resorted to flicking a tea towel towards them, this had the desired effect and they went off to prey on some other hapless picnickers. Finally we enter the house. Both children are under strict instuction not to touch anything. I make sure they use the toilet before going in, as it takes about an hour to get round and their are no public loos in the house. Matthew soon got bored and tried to wind me up by saying he needed the toilet, or saying "I'm Bored" as loudly as he could. He got his come uppance about halfway round when he tore a receipt he had found into confetti and sprinkled it on the floor. One of the room guides was on his case at once "Did you throw that paper on the floor? Well, pick it up at once", and he did! My little girl enjoyed it much more, especially The Queen of Scots Rooms, where she would say "thats the queens room, thats the queens bed" and so on. From an adult point of view Chatsworth is a beautiful house, wonderfully decorated with some fascinating objects. Unlike some stately homes you only visit the State Rooms and bedrooms, I do like to have a nosy around the kitchens and servants quarters as well. The guides are very helpful and approachable even if they do pounce on young litterbugs and I chatted with a couple of them about the tapestries and soft furnishings which are my main interest. The most memorable room in the house for me is the Oak Room which is full of carved oak including some huge oak pillars. Once out of the house hubby went to look around the shop while I took the children for an ice cream. The shop sells the usual things for house and garden , along with souvenirs and they were selling plants when we went. So now off for a look round the rest of the garden. The Kitchen Garden.. Kids were quite impressed I could recognise all the vegetables growing without reading the labels, they forget I'm
a farmers daughter. The Willow Tree.. Not a real willow tree but a squirting sculpture, good fun and refreshing on a hot day. The Pinetum and Grotto Pond.. Walk up into the pinetum to see all types of pine tree, April insisted on collecting pine cones in here in spite of the fact that we were staying in a lodge in a pine forrest. There are plenty of seats amongst the trees to sit and enjoy the peace of the pond and gardens, this area is much quieter than the hustle and bustle around the house. Finally time to leave. The verdict. Everywhere except the house enjoyed by all, tip don't take a grumpy 10 year old boy around the house. We paid £27.00 for the family pass, which for one and half days entertainment seems good value for money. The facilities.. Plenty of toilets all clean and well kept. Fully licensed Carriage House resturant, Jean-Pierre's bar, for families the The Farmyard Cafe. Kiosks for drinks, sandwiches and ice cream. Only the house is not not fully accessible to wheelchair users, electric scooters and manual wheelchairs can be borrowed. Christmas at Chatsworth. The adventure playground closes on the 28th October, but the house and gardens remain open until 22nd of December. During November and December children will be able to go and visit father Christmas. Prices.. Adults House&Garden £8.00 Garden Only £4.00 Children House&Garden £3.50 Garden Only £1.75 Seniors citizens&Students House&Garden £6.75 Garden Only £3.00 Adventure playground £3.50 for adults&children. Family Tickets.. Pass for all attractions £27 House&Garden £17.25 Garden Only £9.50 For opening times, group bookings and other prices visit www.chatsworth.org Also on offer at the website is a history of the house, a virtual tour and details about special
events and behind the scenes tours. You can also shop online from the orangery gift shop. Shopping is much easier this way than trying to steer small children round a gift shop crowded with tourists. For further information on opening times, prices etc. go to www.chatsworth.org.
We recently spent a long weekend in Derbyshire – our original reason was to go to Alton Towers and basically just ‘get away from it all’ for a few days. Before we went on our trip I researched other things to see and do in the area (I can only handle roller coasters for so long – even the carousels terrify me. It’s even worse when I stood there like a gibbering nervous wreck waiting to go on the rides (after being dragged onto them by the other half) why do you always see little kids going on the rides without any problems – and there I am, a nervous wreck!) Anyway – one thing I particularly like is architecture; I’m not some arty-type who can tell the difference between various styles of building, I just know what I like! Taking a look on the web, I came across the website for Chatsworth House (http://www.chatsworth-house.co.uk) Looking on the website (which I strongly recommend you do) you can take a ‘virtual tour’ of the house. This is a very impressive (computer programmer talking here!) feature that shows you a picture of part of the house (you can select what to look at from a menu). By moving your mouse you can ‘look’ around the room, so if you move your mouse pointer to the right then the image scrolls round to the right. This is a great little feature as it gives you an idea about what to expect and whether or not it might be a place of interest to you. Getting to Chatsworth house is just as enjoyable as looking around the place itself. The drive there takes you through some really beautiful countryside and past many a village pub (many of which do some cracking lunches!). My only tip would be when approaching the house, watch your speed, as there are loads of sheep who just wander aimlessly around the road either side of you! When you arrive at the house you can take one of two ticket routes. You can either pay to look solely around
the vast gardens that exist, or you can pay to have a look around the house itself and also the gardens. Fans of the BBC’s production of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ may be interested to know that it was the gardens here used in the TV show. So, what can you expect? Well the first thing that strikes you about Chatsworth is the size of the place – it’s absolutely huge. Each room contains some fabulous artwork and architecture and visitors are under no pressure to ‘move-along’. You can wander along at your own pace and there are tours guides situated throughout who were more than pleased to answer our questions. One of the more famous inhabitants of Chatsworth was Mary Queen of Scots, and here you can view the rooms she stayed in. The rooms on show just amazed me, be it the hand-painted Chinese wallpaper or the quality of the furniture that you could take a look at. Chatsworth also boasts a huge art collection by painters such as Rembrandt. Again, I know next to nothing about art too (dropped it at school as I hated the art teacher) but I think there was something for everyone really! The really impressive features at Chatsworth however are the 40ft water fountain and a cascading waterfall (well, kind of, it’s a set of steps that has a continual flow of water coming down them) Entry into the house was only £8 per adult, which I though was really good value for money when you consider just how much you got to look around at. As it got nearer toward lunch we decided to get a bit to eat. There are a couple of small outlets where you can get a cup of tea and a sandwich, or, if you’ve got a bit more cash you can have a meal at the restaurant. We didn’t go to the restaurant for two reasons really – a) it was heaving and b) it was a bit pricey! As with all places of this nature however there was a large shop where you could buy just about anything r
eally, ranging from home baking to posters, pictures and other assorted items. I bought my mum and dad some fudge, but, well, we scoffed it all in the car on the way back to our hotel – sorry mum! However, via the website you can also browse the online shop, so if, like me, you scoff the souvenirs you’ve bought for other people then you can buy them again when you get back home and nobody will be non the wiser – result! When we visited Chatsworth the weather was a bit off that day, which meant we never got to take a look around the gardens, which is a shame as they looked beautiful from the literature we’d seen before hand. If you’d rather take a picnic with you for a bite to eat then you’re more than welcome to do this too. Small Children won’t have a chance to get bored either as they can visit the animal yard where they can feed calf and chickens, there’s also an adventure playground too that has lots of climbing frames and swings for them to play on! All in all, if you’re visiting the area then I’d highly recommend paying it a visit, I think it was really good value for money and I’d quite happily go back to look at the same things again!