Chatsworth House

Friday, 26 April 2019 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks
Reading Time:  19 minutes

Emperor's Fountain © Kev747

Emperor’s Fountain © Kev747

Chatsworth House is a stately home in Derbyshire, England, in the Derbyshire Dales 3.5 miles (5.6 km) northeast of Bakewell and 9 miles (14 km) west of Chesterfield. The seat of the Duke of Devonshire, it has been home to the Cavendish family since 1549. Standing on the east bank of the River Derwent, Chatsworth looks across to the low hills that divide the Derwent and Wye valleys. The house, set in expansive parkland and backed by wooded, rocky hills rising to heather moorland, contains an important collection of paintings, furniture, Old Master drawings, neoclassical sculptures, books and other artefacts. Chatsworth has been selected as the United Kingdom’s favourite country house several times.

Chatsworth House is built on sloping ground, lower on the north and west sides than on the south and east sides. The original Tudor mansion was built in the 1560s by Bess of Hardwick in a quadrangle layout, approximately 170 feet (50 m) from north to south and 190 feet (60 m) from east to west, with a large central courtyard. The main entrance was on the west front, which was embellished with four towers or turrets, and the great hall in the medieval tradition was on the east side of the courtyard, where the Painted Hall remains the focus of the house to this day. The south and east fronts were rebuilt under the order of William Talman and were completed by 1696 for William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire. The 1st Duke’s Chatsworth was a key building in the development of English Baroque architecture. According to the architectural historian Sir John Summerson, “It inaugurates an artistic revolution which is the counterpart of the political revolution in which the Earl was so prominent a leader.” The design of the south front was revolutionary for an English house, with no attics or hipped roof, but instead two main stories supported by a rusticated basement. The facade is dramatic and sculptural with ionic pilasters and a heavy entablature and balustrade. The existing heavy and angular stone stairs from the first floor down to the garden are a 19th-century replacement of an elegant curved double staircase. The east front is the quietest of the four on the main block. Like the south front it is unusual in that it has an even number of bays and no centrepiece. The emphasis is placed on the end bays, each highlighted by double pairs of pilasters, of which the inner pairs project outwards. The west and north fronts may have been the work of Thomas Archer, possibly in collaboration with the Duke himself. The west front has nine wide bays with a central pediment supported by four columns and pilasters to the other bays. Due to the slope of the site this front is taller than the south front. It is also large, with many other nine-bay three-storey facades little more than half as wide and tall. The west front is very lively with much carved stonework, and the window frames are highlighted with gold leaf, which catches the setting sun. The north front was the last to be built. It presented a challenge, as the north end of the west front projected nine feet (3 m) further than the north end of the east front. This problem was overcome by building a slightly curved facade to distract the eye. The attic windows on this side are the only ones visible on the exterior of the house and are set into the main facade, rather than into a visible roof. Those in the curved section were originally oval, but are now rectangular like those in the end sections. The north front was altered in the 19th century when William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, along with the architect Jeffry Wyatville, built the North Wing, doubling the size of the house. Most of this wing only has two storeys, compared to the three of the main block. It is attached to the north-east corner of the house, and is around 400 feet (120 m) long. At the end of the North Wing is the North, or Belvedere, Tower. The work was carried out in an Italianate style that blends smoothly with the elaborate finish of the baroque house. The 6th Duke built a gatehouse at this end of the house with three gates. The central and largest gate led to the North Entrance, then the main entrance to the house. This is now the entrance used by visitors. The north gate led to the service courtyard, and the matching south gate led to the original front door in the west front, which was relegated to secondary status in the Duke’s time, but is now the family’s private entrance once again. The facades to the central courtyard were also rebuilt by the 1st Duke. The courtyard was larger than it is now, as there were no corridors on the western side and the northern and southern sides only had enclosed galleries on the first floor with open galleries below. In the 19th century, new accommodation was built on these three sides on all three levels. The only surviving baroque facade is that on the eastern side, where five bays of the original seven remain, and are largely as built. There are carved trophies by Samuel Watson, a Derbyshire craftsman who did a lot of work at Chatsworth in stone, marble and wood.

The 1st and 6th Dukes both inherited an old house, and tried to adapt to the lifestyle of their time without changing the fundamentals of its layout, making Chatsworth’s layout unique, full of irregularities and the interiors a collection of different styles. Many of the rooms are recognisable of one main period, but in nearly every case, they have been altered more often than might be supposed at first glance. The 1st Duke created a richly appointed Baroque suite of state rooms across the south front in anticipation of a visit by King William III and Queen Mary II that never occurred. The State Apartments are accessed from the Painted Hall, decorated with murals showing scenes from the life of Julius Caesar by Louis Laguerre, and ascending the cantilevered Great Stairs to the enfilade of rooms that would control how far a person could progress into the presence of the King and Queen. The Great Chamber is the largest room in the State Apartments, followed by the State Drawing Room, the Second Withdrawing Room, the State Bedroom and finally the State Closet with each room being more private and ornate than the last. The Great Chamber includes a painted ceiling of a classical scene by Antonio Verrio. The Second Withdrawing Room was renamed the State Music Room by the 6th Duke when he brought the violin door here from Devonshire House in London. The door features a very convincing trompe l’oeil of a violin and bow “hanging” on a silver knob, painted around 1723 by Jan van der Vaardt. Around the time Queen Victoria decided that Hampton Court, with its state apartments in the same style, was uninhabitable, the 6th Duke wrote that he was tempted to demolish the State Apartments to make way for new bedrooms. However, sensitive to his family’s heritage, he left the rooms largely untouched, making additions rather than change the existing spaces of the house. Changes to the main baroque interiors were restricted to details such as stamped leather hangings on the walls of the State Music Room and State Bedroom, and a wider and shallower, but less elegant staircase in the Painted Hall, which was itself later replaced. The contents of the State Apartments were rearranged in 2010 to reflect the way they would have looked in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Chatsworth’s garden attracts around 300,000 visitors a year. It has a complex blend of different features from six different centuries and covers 105 acres (0.42 km²). The garden is surrounded by a wall 1.75 miles (2.8 km) long. It sits on the eastern side of the valley of the Derwent River and blends into the landscape of the surrounding park, which covers 1,000 acres (4.0 km²). The woods on the moors to the east of the valley form a backdrop to the garden. There is a staff of approximately 20 full-time gardeners. The average rainfall is around 33.7 inches (855 mm) a year, and there are an average of 1,160 sunshine hours a year. Most of the principal features of the garden were created in five main phases of development.

State Music Room © Daderot Sculpture Gallery © Kev747/cc-by-sa-3.0 Library © Sb2s3/cc-by-sa-4.0 Grand Cascade © Kev747/cc-by-sa-3.0 Emperor's Fountain © Kev747 Dining Room © Daderot
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Sculpture Gallery © Kev747/cc-by-sa-3.0
The stable block at Chatsworth is prominently situated on the rising ground to the north-east of the house. Its entrance gate features four Doric columns with rusticated banding, a pediment containing a huge carving of the family coat of arms, two life-size stags in embellished with real antlers, and a clock tower topped by a cupola. The building was designed by James Paine for the 4th Duke and was built in around 1760. It is approximately 190 feet (60 m) square and is two storeys tall. There are low towers in the corners in addition to the one over the entrance gate. The stables originally had stalls for 80 horses, and all necessary equine facilities including a blacksmiths shop. The first floor was occupied by granaries and accommodation for the many stable staff. According to the Dowager Duchess in her book, Chatsworth: The House, one room still has “Third Postillion” painted on the door. The 6th Duke added a carriage house behind the stables in the 1830s. The last horses left the stables in 1939 and the building was then used as a store and garage. The grooms’ accommodation was converted into flats for Chatsworth employees and pensioners and their families. When the house reopened to the public after the war, “catering” was limited to an outdoor tap, which has since been relabelled “water for dogs”. In 1975 a tea bar was established with an investment of £120. The first attempt at a café opened in 1979. It seated 90 in some old horse stalls in the stables and was not satisfactory; either to the customers or from a commercial point of view. In 1987 the Duke and Duchess’s private chef, a Frenchman named Jean-Pierre Béraud who was also a leading light in the success of the Chatsworth Farm Shop and Chatsworth Foods, took charge of the catering. After a failed attempt to obtain planning permission for a new building incorporating the old ice house in the park, a 250-seat restaurant was created in the carriage house. The 19th-century coach used by the Dowager Duchess and the late Duke at the Queen’s Coronation is on display there. Other facilities include The Cavendish Rooms, which also serves refreshments, a shop and three rooms available for hire. The stables cater for thirty thousand people a month during the visitor season.

Chatsworth’s park covers about 1,000 acres (4.0 km²) and is open to the public free of charge all year-round, except for the south-east section, known as the Old Park, which is not open since it is used for breeding by the herds of red and fallow deer. The attitudes of the Dukes regarding wider access rights have changed significantly over the years. Upon his death, in 2004, the Ramblers Association praised the 11th Duke for his enlightened championing of open access, as well as his apologies for the attitude of the 10th Duke, who had restricted access to much estate land. Even during the 11th Duke’s tenure, however, disputes arose—when the definitive rights of way were being compiled in the 1960s and 70s, the footpath to the Swiss Cottage (an isolated house by one of the lakes in the woods) was contested, and the matter went to the High Court, making Derbyshire one of the last counties to settle its definitive maps. Farm stock also graze in the park, many of which belong to tenant farmers or smallholders, who use the park for summer grazing. Bess of Harwick’s park was entirely on the eastern side of the river and only extended as far south as the Emperor Fountain and as far north as the cricket ground. Seven fish ponds were dug to the north-west of the house, where the large, flat area used for events such as the annual Chatsworth Horse Trials and the Country Fair, that is typically held towards the end of August, is now. The bridge across the river was at the southern end of the park and it crossed to the old village of Edensor, which was by the river in full sight of the house. Capability Brown did at least as much work in the park as he did in the garden. The open, tree-flecked landscape that is admired today is man-made. Brown straightened the river, and there is a network of drainage channels under the grass. The park is fertilised with manure from the estates farms and managed to keep weeds and scrub under control. Brown filled in most of the fishponds and extended the park to the west of the river. At the same time James Paine designed the new bridge to the north of the house, which was set at an angle of 40 degrees to command the best view of the West Front of the house. Most of the houses in Edensor were demolished, and the village was rebuilt out of sight of the house. The hedges between the fields on the west bank of the river were grubbed up to create open parkland, and woods were planted on the horizon. These were arranged in triangular clumps so that the screen of trees could be maintained when each planting had to be felled. Brown’s plantings reached their peak in the mid-20th century and are gradually being replaced. The 5th Duke had an elegant red-brick inn built at Edensor to accommodate the increasing numbers of well-to-do travellers who were coming to see Chatsworth. It is now the estate office. In 1823 the Bachelor Duke acquired the Duke of Rutland‘s land around Baslow to the north of Chatsworth in exchange for some land elsewhere. He extended the park around half a mile (800 m) north to its present boundary. He also had the remaining cottages from the old Edensor inside the park demolished apart from the home of one old man who did not wish to move, which still stands in isolation in the park today. The houses in Edensor were rebuilt in picturesque pattern-book styles. In the 1860s the 7th Duke had St Peter’s Church, Edensor enlarged by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The church’s spire embellishes the views from the house, garden and park, and inside there is a remarkable monument to Bess of Hardwick’s sons Henry Cavendish and William, 1st Earl of Devonshire. St Peter’s in Edensor is also where the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th Duke of Devonshire and their wives are buried. Their remains are not entombed in a vault inside the church but lie, marked by simple headstones, in individual graves in the Cavendish family plot overlooking the churchyard. On the hills of the eastern side of the park there is Stand Wood, where the Hunting Tower is located, that was built in 1582 by Bess of Hardwick. At the top of Stand Wood there is a plateau covering several square miles by lakes, woods and moorland. There are public paths through the area and Chatsworth offers guided tours with commentary in a 28-seater trailer pulled by a tractor. This area is the source of the water for all the gravity-fed waterworks in the garden. The Swiss Lake feeds the Cascade and the Emperor Lake feeds the Emperor Fountain. The Bachelor Duke had an aqueduct built, over which water tumbles on its way to the cascade. The late Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, was a keen advocate of rural life, and in 1973 the Chatsworth Farmyard exhibit was opened in the old building yard above the stables. The aim was to explain to those unfamiliar with rural life how food was produced. There are milking demonstrations and displays of rare breeds. An adventure playground was added in 1983, and a venue for talks and exhibitions called Oak Barn was opened by television gardener Alan Titchmarsh in 2005. Chatsworth also runs two annual rural-skills weeks during which demonstrations of agricultural and forestry are given to groups of schoolchildren on the estate farms and woods.

Read more on Chatsworth House, VisitBritain.com – Chatsworth House and Wikipedia Chatsworth House (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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