Part II of our spring shopping trip to England.
We planned a tourist day on our first Saturday in England in April 2016. Our destination was Chatsworth in the Derbyshire’s Peak District. We’ve visited the Peak District on several occasions and had previously been in the vicinity of the historic house, but never had the time to stop. We figured if we were ever going to visit, we’d have to make the time.
Chatsworth is one of the most beautiful houses in all of England. It is the seat of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and home to the Cavendish family since 1549. It is nestled in a valley along the River Derwent with forested hills providing a backdrop. Most of the vast estate is open to the public. Chatsworth’s been open to the public since the mid-1600s. There is the house, the garden, the park, the farmyard, the estate farm shop, a playground and several holiday rentals. On our visit, we toured the house and walked the garden.
Construction on the house began in 1552. It’s been owned by many generations of Cavendish, each leaving their mark on the house, the art collections and the gardens. The access that the public is granted is amazing. We saw many rooms; too many to pick a favorite, but the Painted Hall was breathtaking. “Wow” didn’t really do it justice.
We visited Chatsworth to see the art. The sculpture gallery is exceptional and we were fascinated by the “Lions of Chatsworth”. As we were touring the house, we entered a small dimly lit room. Philip looked up and said “That’s a Rembrandt!” The room guard smiled and said yes it was. The sheer volume of pieces of art in this family home is outstanding. Galleries, corridors and long halls have every inch covered by ornately framed artwork. In most cases, Philip loved the frames, as much as the oil paintings.
After we had our afternoon tea in the grand Palladian converted stables, we headed out into the gardens. There, we spent the remainder of our afternoon following paths into the different sections of the 100 acres of gardens, which were started in 1555. The sun was shining and the sheep were grazing on the parklands. We relished our time outdoors in the maze, the greenhouses, rock garden and the fountains. It was a welcome relaxing respite to the work ahead of us. We got a little carried away on our walk and found ourselves in a private area, where we happened upon a group of pheasants digging in the dirt. We skipped the Hundred Steps Ascent!
Americans know of Chatsworth through movies and television series. For instance, it’s been featured in “Pride and Prejudice” as Pemberley. And the house has been on our bucket list since the movie. While Jane Austin stayed at Bakewell, a town quite near Chatsworth (and where we shopped for antiques), she wrote Pride and Prejudice. Many believe she based Fitzwilliam Darcy’s home of Pemberley on Chatsworth.
From “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austin.
“They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; and in front a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!”
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Chatsworth House and the Capability Brown landscapes. We’ve seen many grand houses and palaces and now, this is one of our favourites.
Up next, we’ll take you to Sheffield’s Antique Quarter as we continue our series of Spring 2016 Shopping Trip blogs.
P.S. Theresa has watched Pride and Prejudice 4000 times (according to Philip).