Chatsworth is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. The house has 126 rooms, throughout the year different occupied rooms are available to view. The Duke and Duchess were on holiday during my visit this August, and the private library was open to view behind a section of red rope - it was spectacular.
To start your journey through the house and gardens I would advise on hearing the introductory talk that is held by the weeping ash tree directly at the entrance. This happens every day and hourly from 11am to 3pm and will help with ideas for where you want to see and what to look out for.
To get even more prepared here is a map of the estate to help you plan your visit.
I started my day by discovering the gardens as the weather was due to turn later in the afternoon. I was surprised by their sheer size and how much there was to see and do. I would not class myself as a ‘walker’ however, the garden is accessible, and the paths are so clear, maintained and well signposted that anyone can enjoy the natural wonders that lie ahead.
If you are unclear as to which areas are accessible they also offer a accessibility map that you can view HERE.
If walking is not your thing you can always opt for the trailer ride through the park. This can be booked on the day at the house entrance or in the farmyard and is suitable for all ages it’s a great introduction to the estate and its landscape. It costs £3.50 and lasts about an hour.
There is a cascading waterfall that runs from the top of a small hill and from the top you get a fantastic view of the Derbyshire countryside alongside the house.
I headed to the Rockery, which was by far the most impressive part of the gardens, the formations were ginormous and people could even climb them! The waterfall that you first come to is beautiful, surrounded by huge green leaves, some were bigger than me! As with every area of the gardens, it was kept to the highest of standards.
There are paths that lead around the rock formations and even a little pond where you can sit, relax and spend a bit of time watching the wildlife such as dragonflies, fish and frogs!
For a little bit of fun, try exploring the maze (not a maize maze) in the garden, but it’s not easy to find the middle! However at the opening they have a prosecco bar (and tea if you prefer) where you can take a little break and consider your route to the centre.
Unfortunately I did not find the middle, and ended up going out of the other entrances, of the maze! You can find the path that leads you around the maze.
There are also lots of fun garden games, such as skittles, giant Jenga and croquet. Look out for the period actors dressed in clothes from different centuries, they provide informative talks and answer questions you might have and it’s an opportunity to have a photo with them too.
As you make your way back towards the house you will pass the big canal pond that is surrounded by Cypress trees, and brings you to the south end of the estate. The main Seahorse Fountain is here along with the best views of the house.
As you make your way back towards the house you will pass the big canal pond that is surrounded by Cypress trees, and brings you to the south end of the estate. The main Seahorse Fountain is here along with the best views of the house. You can walk for miles and miles around the estate and spend hours discovering new parts, but, for time keeping I would highly recommend the little train to see all those areas that are slightly further away and explore what you can closer to the house.
You can walk for miles and miles around the estate and spend hours discovering new parts, but, for time keeping I would highly recommend the little train to see all those areas that are slightly further away and explore what you can closer to the house.
This summer is the summer of the dog at Chatsworth. This exhibition, conceived by the Duchess of Devonshire, explores the Cavendish family’s enduring love for dogs, through paintings, drawings, sculpture, letters, photographs and contemporary art. You can find out more on social media using the hashtag #Chatswoof.
The main dog attraction for me was on the South Lawn. Sitting beautifully between the fountain and the house is a specially commissioned eight metre high scaffold dog created by Ben Long. The theme runs throughout the house, but doesn’t take away from the grandeur of the existing exhibits.
I would recommend setting about an hour and a half to explore the house, there is so much to see and read. Each room has a host that will tell you all about the significance of the rooms and more detail on the works of art.
I have visited many National Trust properties and stately homes, both in the UK and Europe, that all seem to be similar in design and theme, however, I was most impressed by Chatsworth and in comparison it is up there in the top places I have been too.
Each room in the house was different and beautiful. Where other houses have had similar interior design from one or two periods, Chatsworth is interactive, with lots of viewing space in each room to take it in in my own time and not feel rushed. The different styles of each room kept me discovering new things from works of art, beautifully kept furniture, to the different architectural design from various periods in time.
My favourite room was the main hall, with its huge staircase surrounded by paintings. Even on the ceiling! The best view of this room is from above when you climb the staircase, after viewing a few other rooms, take the time to look through the alcoves back down on the room below, you can also see some of the art on the ceiling a little better too!
Today, Chatsworth contains works of art that span 4,000 years, from ancient Roman and Egyptian sculptures, and masterpieces by Rembrandt, Reynolds and Veronese, to work by outstanding modern artists, including Lucian Freud, Edmund de Waal and David Nash.
Although I am not a big art lover, the pieces selected in the house work with the interior design and the flow of the experience. I especially liked the ‘dog’ hall where there are 100’s of individually brought in work from artists all over the world.
Overall, Chatsworth exceeded my expectations. It does come with a price tag, however the maintenance of this property is exquisite, and the care that goes into the house and gardens are well worth the charge to get in.
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