Sunday, March 3, 2013

Tour of Chatsworth House........An English Jewel

Home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, since the 15th century, Chatsworth House is a living and working testament to how a major country house can become so much more than just a crumbling pile in which an aristocratic family live. Chatsworth has been lovingly cared for, restored and kept in wonderful condition. It is quite rightly one of the most popular historic houses in the country and any trip to the Peak District would not be complete without a visit.

The Chatsworth story began with Bess of Hardwick in Tudor times, who was a forebear of the Devonshires, and continues now with Peregrine, the 12th Duke of Devonshire who inherited the title on the death of his father Andrew in 2004. For most of its life Chatsworth was - in its magnificent way - the physical embodiment of their wealth and status.

It has also become a successful Hollywood star in its own right. It figured prominently in the 2005 film of Pride And Prejudice starring Keira Knightley. When Jane Austen needed inspiration for Pemberley, the home of Mr Darcy, she had to look no further than Chatsworth which is actually referred to by name in her novel.The house  had another Hollywood moment as an unlikely backdrop to The Wolfman, starring Anthony Hopkins. Keira Knightley returned to Chatsworth in 2008 to film The Duchess in which she played the part of Georgiana, the first wife of William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire.

The house, set in expansive parkland and backed by wooded hills rising to heather moorland, contains a unique collection of priceless paintings, furniture, sculptures, books and other artifacts.  Chatsworth has been selected as the United Kingdom's favorite country house several times. I hope you enjoy the tour!!

Meet the man of the house: The present Duke of Devonshire cradling the fabulous Kniphausen Hawk, a 17th Century statuette made of silver and silver gilt and set with precious gemstones, which has been at Chatsworth since 1819. This extraordinary bird is said to have provided the inspiration for the priceless statuette at the heart of the intrigue in The Maltese Falcon, the 1941 movie which stars Humphrey Bogart.

It is arguably England's most handsome country house - Chatsworth, ancestral home of the Dukes of Devonshire --which has survived most impressively. In fact, it has not merely survived but has successfully recreated itself as one of the world's most extraordinary tourist attractions.

Throughout the house, there are magnificent displays of paintings, furniture, silver, tapestries and porcelain and a gallery of neo-classical sculptures.

The state drawing room at Chatsworth House with the 1st Duke of Devonshire's portrait, Delft pyramid vases and Mortlake tapestries.

Stunning frescoes in the Painted Hall at Chatsworth house.

The Chapel at Chatsworth

The Library contains 17,000 volumes.

The real deal: Thomas Gainsborough's portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

Keira Knightley starred in the 2008 movie The Duchess

One of the ornate bedrooms of Chatsworth House.

The Dining Room at Chatsworth House is lovely anytime of the year......

especially at Christmas.

One of the fabulous ceilings

State Bedroom at Chatsworth

The Sculpture Gallery

Chatsworth House Maze

The estate has many typical English gardens.

The gardens are also host to a variety of contemporary sculptures.

Damien Hirst pieces at the Chatsworth House sculpture exhibition.

The Cascade and Cascade House is a set of stone steps over which water flows from a set of fountains at the top. It was built in 1696 and rebuilt on a grander scale in 1701. In 1703 a grand baroque Temple or Cascade House designed by Thomas Archer was added at the top. It has 24 cut steps, each slightly different and with a variety of textures so that each gives a different sound when water runs over and down them.

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Lisa Farmer

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