Monday, August 4, 2008

Chatsworth: An Introduction

Since this is post #100 and I am a creature of rituals I thought it would be a good time to write about Chatsworth House, the seat of the Dukes of Devonshire. Unfortunately, due to my love affair with the house, I can't just write one entry on the house because there's just so much there to talk about. So I am planning on making a series of exploration, room by room of this amazing house. But first, let's begin with some history.

Chatsworth's story begins in 1552, during the reign of Elizabeth I, when Bess of Hardwick bought the manner and began building the house with her second husband, Sir William Cavendish. Bess was originally from Derbyshire and convinced William to sell his lands and move to her beloved county. For those who have seen Derbyshire, you can probably understand why. The Tudor Chatsworth is not what we see today, that structure is a result of many altercations. Bess' lodgings still remain, but are beyond recognition as well as her Hunting Tower which overlooks the estate.

When the first Duke of Devonshire was created in 1694 he decided to make some altercations in anticipation of William and Mary's visit. He began by building state apartments which were intended for the king and queen's stay (I don;t think they every made it), but in the altercations he found that building them were so much fun he would keep going! He added outbuildings and began work on grand formal gardens. Before he knew it, all of Chatsworth had been redone, including the outsides. By 1707 Chatsworth had finally been finished to the Duke's liking but he died shortly afterwards. The 1st Duke had done the most substantial work to the estate and his efforts have not been equaled since, but they are closely rivaled by Georgiana's son, the 6th Duke of Devonshire.

Because of the 1st Duke's altercations, Chatsworth House was not improved upon for a long time. The 4th Duke (Georgiana's father-in-law) concentrated his improvements on the land. Most notably, the stables and a gorgeous bridge leading to the house. When Chatsworth came under control of the 5th Duke and Georgiana, the couple was really disinterested in it. Foreman states how the house seemed to be rather gloomy and isolated compared to the jovial atmosphere of Devonshire House in London, which was constantly filled with their friends. Because of Chatsworth's location, far north in the Peak District (and it's extreme lack in bathrooms) not many visitors came in comparison, but the Duke and Duchess still tried to keep the house full. Only the first floor drawing rooms were redecorated during their reign.

Their Son, William the 6th Duke, whom they called Hart, worked very hard in improving the almost forgotten estate during his time in Chatsworth. He also livened up the place with lots of friends. Hart incorporated more works of art in the house and became very interested in Gardening. With the help of Joseph Paxton, they designed the gardens to be the amazing displays we see today.

But before I runaway with how amazing the gardens are I will stop here and save all the details on the house and garden for future posts.


  1. I've never been to CHatsworth but now i'm really tempted... to have a little holiday in Derbyshire this fall, thank god i'm living in europe!

  2. Yeah you lucky Europeans with your inexpensive Easy Jets!

  3. This same Joseph Paxton made improvements to the gardens of Chiswick House as well "under" G's son Hart, no?

  4. I believe so! I think the two met when Paxton was working at Chiswick.