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Enchanting Palace of the Peak
Chatsworth House (Bakerwell)
Member Name: Cherry24
Chatsworth House (Bakerwell)
Advantages: Interesting house, beautiful grounds, varied gardens, excellent events
Disadvantages: Location: depending where you are in the country
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 is a place that has stolen many a heart including mine. I can't recommend a visit enough
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