Chatsworth House, home to the Cavendish family since 1549, has been labelled the 'Palace of the Peak' and features more than 30 rooms, a large library and magnificent collections of paintings and sculpture. Additionally, the grounds include a 105-acre garden and a park on the banks of the river Derwent. Recently, and apropos of absolutely nothing, I was musing about Chatsworth and concluded that it remains my personal favourite when it comes to Stately Homes. There are many reasons for this:
1. Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, once lived there.
2. So did the Duke and Bess Foster.
3. When you arrive at Chatsworth House on a visit, you're likely to be cautioned to mind the present Duchess's chickens, who are allowed to wander, willy nilly, in the grounds.
4. During a visit to Chatsworth House in 1843 by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, the Orangery in the grounds (above), designed by Joseph Paxton, served as the inspiration for Prince Albert's idea for the design of the Crystal Palace.
5. Chatsworth House features the hands down, absolute best gift shops. Seriously good. There are six of them. All with different themes and goods. Go prepared and bring an empty carry-all with you. Trust me on this.
Copyright Chatsworth House
6. You can gaze upon the Gainesborough portrait of Georgiana (see Number 1 above), which has a long and twisted history. For the full story, click here to read a previous blog post about the theft of the painting. And by the way, you can purchase a print of the image directly from Chatsworth House by clicking here.
7. The trompe l'oeil door and violin in the State Music Room painted by artist Jan van der Vaart circa 1723. Your first glimpse of the masterpiece will be from afar. Bear in mind that the inner door, the violin and bow and the silver knob from which they appear to be "hanging" are all an illusionist painting.
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The next time you're in or near the Peak District, I urge you to visit Chatsworth House. If you've already been, make a return visit and take in all that you missed the first time around. In the meantime, you can watch a stunning slideshow of Chatsworth House images here.