If I were a Duchess I would live at Chatsworth house, hell if I could live there today I would. One of the last private estates in England; Chatsworth is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. (Chatsworth.org). Side note: In the previous blog, Bolsover Castle was also owned by the Cavendish family.
We arrived before the gates opened so decided to have breakfast in the magnificent dinning area where you can get anything from salad to cheesecake and tea to beer. After breakfast we made our way down to the house. Stopping briefly to talk to a guard about the letters on the hill, we got more information than we bargained for. The pride in all the places I have been has been overwhelming, you stop to ask one question and get a wonderful history lesson in return.
The letters on the hill are ER, I joke and say they were placed there for me because they new I was coming, the guard got a laugh out of that and said the initials are for Queen Elizabeth when she visited Chatsworth House in 2014 . He tells us of the history, that dates back to the 11th and 12th century. There are ruins on the grounds atop a hill, I asked what that was and he tells us that is the old Queen of Scots Room, where Mary, Queen of Scots was entrusted to the owners and held there several time between 1570 and her beheading which was in 1587.
The guard skips forward to recent times and tell us that John F. Kennedy’s sister is buried near by and we should visit her grave. Kathleen Kennedy was a free spirited girl who married William Cavendish, whom was tragically killed in WWII. Kathleen “Kick” Cavendish died in a plane crash a few years later flying from Paris to the French Rivera. It seem Kick was a favorite sister of JFK and when he was on state business, he visited his sisters grave unannounced but sadly he himself was assassinated a short time later.
( Ok, I know, is this a history paper or a blog. I really could go on and on about the history of this place, maybe I should have been a history teacher.)
After talking with the guard we head to the house. We are welcomed into a large foyer where you pay, have the option of purchasing a headset to guide you, then up the stairs you go for your self guided tour.
Each room is more grand than the next, oil paintings of the family line the walls from floor to ceiling, and the ceilings are painted like the roman cathedrals. There are 126 rooms and a hundred of them are closed to visitors. You have to remind yourself that this is still someones home. Towards the end of the day we stood on a hill over looking the grounds and on a patio off of the 2nd story there were men smoking pipes. It can only be assumed this was Lord Cavendish with family or friends.
- Plan on spending at least 2 hours in the house
- Wear comfortable shoes and attire for all weather
- Have lunch or breakfast there
- Rent the headset for the tour
- Get there early to take photos outside
- Walk to the top of the cascading waterfall
- Walk to the front of the house with the fountain
- If you have allergies take your medication because the gardens are massive
- Kids under the age of 10 may get bored
Some places to learn more:
- Netflix has the PBS Special on Chatsworth House