And so we continue with the big guns, this time a visit to Chatsworth in Nov 2011.
I think of Chatsworth as like a comet, stout body and whispy tail ending in an Italian loggia that landed in the Derbyshire countryside, exploded the heather off the moors and rested amidst a perfectly crafted landscape.
We visited Chatsworth on the morning of their annual Christmas fayre and therefore ended up queuing for 1 1/2 hours to get in. Almost any other house we would have turned around and left. Lesson? Get there at 9am (my train only arrived at Leeds at 0930 so we got there about 1100). As the Duke of Devonshire, Lord Cavendish, sits on his loggia 100ft above the cars parked on his front law, counting each £2 he charges for parking (which really should be discounted from the cost of entering the house for those who are there to do more than just walk the grounds, but isn’t), I’m sure he reflects on how he and his gilt windowed mansion came to be.
The gilt windows you see above in the inner courtyard are an original design feature. During 2011 swathes of scaffolding covered Chatsworth and all the gilt (real gold!) is being restored to the window frames as original, bringing back the twinkle to Chatsworth’s eye. There are 127 rooms at Chatsworth. Less than 10 per cent are open to the public. However, the gardens are free to roam and with their cascade, wood, maze, lake, fountain, greenhouses and lawns and Capability Brown landscaping cut out of the Derbyshire moors, they almost top the house. So, as I hope to revisit Chatsworth soon outside of Christmas opening times and once the scaffolding is down and will focus on the inside then, let’s enjoy the gardens.
Looking back to the house
The Weeping Willow (and a lovely rainbow)
The Cascade (and a bit of modern art)
The Maze – I made it, D got lost
A bit more modern art The year-long+ restoration of Chatsworth’s exterior is now complete. Here’s an article on it from the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-17285696. I hope to go back this summer (hopefully we can pick up 2 for 1 Treasure House tickets from Holkham on our Norfolk trip). Watch this space…
When visited: November 2011
Garden * out of 5: ****
Theme tune: Top of the Word