Thursday, October 18, 2012


With all eyes intently focused this fall on Season 3 of Downton Abbey in the UK, there's always interest in a day trip to one of the beautiful historical homes scattered around the countryside of England. Although our choice of days this fall ended up being a soggy, wet one, our trip to Chatsworth proved to be a delight nevertheless.

Chatsworth had been on my bucket list of "must-sees" and it certainly lived up to its title of one of England's top 10 Stately Homes. Chatsworth is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire, and has been home to his family since Bess of Hardwick settled there in 1549.

Hopefully, we can return on a sunnier day someday soon to spend more time in the gardens which cover 105 acres of parklands, woods and fountains. The Chatsworth Home itself is the hub of some 35,000 acres of agriculture and estate, including several local villages, driving home to me just how influential this family has been through the ages.

Entering through the main hallway, we began our tour of this beautiful home of 126 rooms-although only 30 are open to the public, since the current 12th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire currently make their home there.

The home contains one of Europe's most significant art collections.

Every room is an eye-opener, including this guest room set in Edwardian times,

with the mistress's clothing ready at her disposal.

We spent quite a bit of time in the Great Dining Room which was beautifully set for a formal occasion,

and where "Alfred" as I referred to him, explained at length the customs of the time.

One of the prominent former residences of this estate is Lady Georgianna, who was married to the 5th Duke of Devonshire. Perhaps you recall the recent book and movie, The Duchess, about her life, starring Keira Knightly. 
An interesting woman to say the least, she was quite popular in London society and the daughter of the first Earl of Spencer, and when her friend, Lady Elizabeth Foster, became her husband's mistress, their friendship continued. Lady Foster even conceived 2 children by the duke, but Georgianna allowed her to live with them at Chatsworth in a strange ménage à trios, until her death at age 48, after which the 5th Duke married Lady Foster.

I was fascinated the day of our visit, that the current Duchess of Devonshire, Amanda Cavendish, showed up in the hallways snapping photos herself of the floral exhibition that was taking place there on the day we visited.

I overheard her tell "Alfred" that the dining room had never looked lovelier.

More about the floral exhibition in my next blog!

Since our stroll through the gardens was cut short by rain, we opted to go to the lovely gift shop where we found these cute chocolate wellies. We could definitely have used some rubbery wellies that day ourselves!

A perfect complement to the day was high tea that we enjoyed in the former stables of the estate.

Warm, cozy and dry, we enjoyed our time chatting together and celebrating a "Girls Day Out" in the countryside. 

There's more to share about our day, coming up soon!


  1. Wonderful, Debi. So interesting to peek into the past to see how these people lived. I also appreciated your comment about how much influence these families had in the villages around them. I remember thinking that when we went to Althorp.

  2. Wonderful, Debi. So interesting to peek into the past to see how these people lived. I also appreciated your comment about how much influence these families had in the villages around them. I remember thinking that when we went to Althorp.

  3. Dear Debi - my favourite stately home in England.
    I am biased as I am a Derbyshire girl, and it is a place I have known all of my life.
    I visited this summer especially to see the newly cleaned stonework, and the window surrounds and finials gilded with 18 carat gold. It has been restored to the way it would have looked when it was first built in the 17th century. I thought that the touch of gold was a triumph which incidentally cost the Duke 40 million pounds for both the cleaning and the gilding.

  4. Wow, that is an absolutely gorgeous place, Debi! It looks like a fun day, rain and all (thank goodness you had some chocolate wellies! haha..) You have the absolute best adventures, thank you for sharing them with us! xxoo

  5. what an extraordinary estate! thank you
    for all the beautiful photos and history.
    i'm forwarding this to my daughter who's
    in london.

  6. I have to have one of those chocolate wellies!! So cute. What a beautiful place. And you were allowed to take pictures which is awesome. I always hate putting my camera away when I visit someplace wonderful. Are you loving Season 3 of Downton Abbey? Lot's of tears, but it's been good.


  7. Beautiful home. Kelly recently had guests from England.--Adrian's relatives. The cousin is a tour guide at a stately home near London.

  8. Oh how love your adventures. Very interesting story to go along with these lovely pic's. How neat the current Duchess made an appearance and you were able to share her with us.
    I love the picture of the bedroom. Can't imagine sleeping in such luxury. lol
    Wish I were one of your girlfriends that join you on your girls day out. You always visit the neatest places.
    Hope your well and enjoying prettier weather.
    It is still 80's here but a front is moving in this weekend.

  9. I just found your blog via pinterest. I love Britain and I'm enjoying looking through some of your posts. I live in Seattle. Looking forward to browsing some more. Cheers and Blessings...

  10. I went to Chatworth about five years ago and it literally took my breath away it was so beautiful. I love the surrounding area as well with all the cute little pubs and homes all with that same blue color painted on the doors and shutters. It's perfectly charming :)

  11. Hi Debi,

    I've always been fascinated by Chatsworth. Not least because of its most famous resident, Georgiana. I've read her biography and a lot of other information. I haven't visited the house yet so thank you for the tour. As always, beautiful and very informative.

    I'd seriously love to have those chocolate wellies!

    Happy weekend to you and yours. Our maple trees are turned now and absolutely gorgeous colors. I'll try for photos tomorrow but it's been very rainy.


  12. WOW is this COOL OR WHAT????

    Good gracious, this is so fun and though I have only FLOWN OVER England to get to France, even seeing the countryside, pocked with fluffy sheep and a castle or two on the landscape, England and its history seems only like a fairytale. How fantastic that you have had so many opportunities to see these wonders!

    Thank you my dear for visiting!! Anita

  13. Absolutely lovely! I so love visiting the old English homes too... they are a very special heritage - so real and part of the earth at the same time.
    Please be sure to enter my BOOK GIVE-A-WAY!