From the great house at its heart, and spreading across thousands of acres of beautiful English countryside, the Chatsworth Estate has featured a host of fascinating characters and extraordinary happenings in its rich and storied history.
The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, their son Lord Burlington, and many others will be sharing some of their favourite stories in a series of winter talks about life at Chatsworth both below stairs and in its gilded halls.
Running from January 19 to March 16, the winter talks will shine a light on some of the more unusual objects and places found on the Chatsworth Estate including new stories revealed by the extensive conservation work that has seen ‘Chatsworth Renewed’ over the past decade.
More stories from the servants hall, January 19
New stories on the lives of the servants and estate community at Chatsworth have been uncovered as part of the ‘From Servants to Staff’ project. The tales of tenants, housemaids, stable boys, gardeners and many more will chart three centuries of change, from 1700 to 1950. The talk will focus in part on ‘Chatsworth Renewed’ and consider how changes to the house and the presence of builders and craftsmen impacted on life and work in the country house.
A housekeeper’s discoveries: a few of my favourite things, January 26
Head Housekeeper Janet Bitton, has worked at Chatsworth for many years and has a deep knowledge of the nooks and crannies of the historic 300-room house. She will share a few of her favourite discoveries, from historic political graffiti on floorboards to interesting baking moulds, as well as the care required for some of Chatsworth’s most precious objects.
Chatsworth through my eyes, February 2
Lord Burlington will talk about the vision and values of the vibrant community at the heart of the estate as well as sharing insights into the other Devonshire Estates.
The evolution of planting in the garden, February 16
With Capability Brown and Joseph Paxton as predecessors, the gardening team at Chatsworth have some big footsteps to follow. More than 500,000 visitors every year enjoy the 105-acre garden so managing and expanding the plant collection, developing new areas and improving the fabric and historic features make for a very busy schedule. Two of the team will talk about planting in the garden and how it has evolved over five centuries including the Trout stream, Arcadia and flowers in the cutting garden.
Introducing a new commission at Chatsworth, March 2
‘Sowing Colour’ by Natasha Daintry is a specially commissioned ceramic installation due to be unveiled in spring 2018 and a bold addition to the Duke and Duchess’s collection of contemporary art and design. Head of Collections, Kate Brindley, will introduce this latest commission and explain more about the artwork in the context of the Duke and Duchess’s passion for supporting artists today.
Long and short seasonal park walks, selected dates available from March 7-October 16
The short walks take two hours and the long walks take four hours but both take in some of the best views on the estate. Each tour is led by an expert Chatsworth guide, offering the perfect way to learn more about the park and villages surrounding Chatsworth. Learn about how this landscape has evolved and hear some of the stories behind the sites around areas including Dobb Edge and Barbrook; Edensor; Lakes loop; Capability Brown’s landscape; the Duke’s walk; and the Warren and Beeley Village.
From sheep dogs to sawlogs, March 9
Learn more about modern farming and forestry on a historic estate with Farms Manager, David Howlett, and Head Forester, John Everitt. The Chatsworth Estate’s 37,000 acres contain hundreds of thousands of trees and 1600 hectares of mixed woodland, as well as numerous farms growing crops and farming livestock.
A grand day out, March 16
The Duke and Duchess will share insights into some of the hidden gems around the Chatsworth Estate and further afield as well as the history and stories behind them.
All the talks are taking place in the Hartington room or the historic Theatre apart from the seasonal walks. While the house, garden and farmyard are closed for the winter until reopening on March 24, the stables shop and restaurant are open daily from 10.30am to 4.30pm, while the farmyard and playground are also open during half-term, February 17-25.
The annual Peak District Artisans exhibition returns to the stables, with work from more than 30 artists, designer-makers and contemporary craftspeople from across the Peak District on display from January 12 to March 9, open daily 10.30am–3.30pm. Admission is free.