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Chatsworth, A Real Palace

August 28-September 4, 2009

Written September 20

Friends and Families,


After we left York, we headed toward "The Peak's District", Britain's first national park. We kept our driving configuration (Marianne driving and me talking). It worked well enough, although I'll admit, we went through the center of towns I meant to avoid. I think we were victims of a road network laid out hundreds of years ago with little rhyme or reason for modern travel. That's my excuse anyway.

In any event, we did have a goal inside "The Peaks": Chatsworth, an authentic 16th Century Manor Home, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Chatsworth has been the family home since 1549 but, to withstand heavy estate and income taxes, the house and gardens are open to the public. Actually, more than just "open", Chatsworth is a self-standing tourist industry, as their website clearly indicates.

For a good history of the Devonshire Dukes' dramatic domicile, visit Wikipedia.

For our visit, I'll let the pictures tell the story:


Chatsworth has a major re-construction underway so the main building is surrounded in scaffolding and covered in plastic. The model in the entrance hall gives the best overview of the buildings.

Grand Entrance Hall

Chatsworth has been home to romantic drama, both real and filmed. Georgiana Spencer, the 5th Duke's wife, was a famous - or infamous - entertainer, who's antics have inspired romance writers over the years.

The house itself has hosted numerous movies and TV shows including the 2005 film adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. (The source of these costumes.) The house was also used in The Duchess (2008), featuring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes, and The Wolfman (2009), with Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins.

This room was created for a visit by the King. The fireplace is surrounded by the most intricate wood carvings. The hunting theme of the decorations was chosen in line with one main use of a country manor.

Many of Chatsworth's 126 rooms (20% open to the public) overlook formal gardens almost as famous as the home.

The elegance of "the office" was particularly impressive.

But the Duke's bedroom, complete with golden toilet kit, was even more elaborate.

The detail throughout the house was simply amazing, from the painted walls and ceiling through the music lounge and the 6th Duke's Dining Room.


Unfortunately, we ran out of time before we could properly tour the gardens. Next time.

The hunting tower. We have those in our neighborhood too, but they are simple wooden boxes on top of spindly sticks.

So, that was our touch with Devonshire royalty. Overall, while Chatsworth is as commercial as a Disney theme park, it is still worth a recommendation, particularly if you can wait for the scaffolding to be pulled down next year.


John and Marianne


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