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Chatsworth House, grandeur of a Devonshire welcome
Chatsworth House (Bakerwell)
Member Name: logberg
Chatsworth House (Bakerwell)
Date: 12/02/06, updated on 12/02/06 (1549 review reads)
Advantages: History open to be shared by all
Disadvantages: Quite a few stairways
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.
Summary: Grand, historic and most welcoming