Spot the Difference : Chatsworth

I love to visit Chatsworth! So much to see and do. Lots of art and lots of history. Famous people. Gardens and country house. Plus, you may take photos everywhere. Inside and outside there’s so much variety. It’s hard to decide just where to start.

The South and East Fronts today

The South and East fronts from my 1970s Guidebook

The best thing about my recent visit was meeting up with the online book discussion group friends. Hopefully we have now established a tradition of having a  summer outing in the country alongside our winter/Christmas ‘party’ in town. The weather on the 10th July turned out to be abominable – weather alerts, floods, torrential rain – but we all managed to get to Chatsworth, eventually, although instead of a jolly picnic on the grass we had a delicious hot meal in the Carriage House Cafe. Now and again the rain stopped and we ventured into the gardens but we did spend quite some time in the house and made three visits to the Cafe.

During the 1950s, ’60s and early ’70s my granny and grandad used to visit stately homes travelling from Norwich at first by motorbike and sidecar and in later years in my uncle’s Austin A35. They travelled very long distances but always within the day as they never stayed away from home overnight. I now have the collection of guidebooks which they bought at the time and I have two for Chatsworth.

It’s interesting to look through my old guidebooks – most of which  were published by Pitkin (but not the above Chatsworth guides)- comparing the houses as they were then and as they are when I visit. So I’ve made this the theme of my Chatsworth post today.

A couple of times during today’s tour of the house you pass through the Painted Hall. This year, with it being the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Year, the Devonshire state chariot, used by the 11th Duke to attend the Coronation, is on display in there. I loved reading the little anecdote about the party getting lost on their way to attend the coronation in 1953.

The Painted Hall in 2012 with State Chariot on display

The Painted Hall and Tijou Balcony, 1970s

The Tijou Balcony today

From the Painted Hall and nearby corridor you can see out into an inner courtyard and the Tijou-designed balcony which would have been sparkling in the sunshine – had there been any!

Here is the Chapel today with its modern art and in the 1970s looking very traditional and rather OTT.

The Chapel Corridor now displays modern art sculptures and pots. I noticed a large group of Edmund de Waal pots on a mantlepiece.

One of the last rooms you visit on the tour today is the Dining Room :

Then there’s the sculpture gallery and the Orangerie now houses the shop.

My favourite wonder of Chatsworth is just a smallish painting. It’s a Trompe L’Oeil violin on the back of a door. Watch out for it next time you visit Chatsworth.

Trompe L’Oeil 2012

In my guidebook

Isn’t it amazing?

And finally, just to show that we did get into the gardens :

The Knot Garden

Herb beds in the Walled/Kitchen Garden

The Emperor Fountain

The Cascade


10 comments on “Spot the Difference : Chatsworth

  1. Nilly says:

    A very enjoyable “then and now” post. And I think I might be warming to those Edmund de Waal pots – they look much more interesting in a group than alone. Perhaps I ought to read “that novel” again…

    • Thank you, Nilly. I must agree about the pots. I thought just the same as you. However, I’m definitely not going to read it again – I gave to a work colleague and have hopefully seen the back of it!

  2. ms6282 says:

    Hard to believe, but I’ve never actually been to Chatsworth. Well, I have, I’ve driven, cycled and walked nearby and I’ve been to the farm shop, but I’ve never been in the house itself. Your post has reminded me that I really ought too. I’d be interested to see the house and the art, although, I have to admit, I’m not a great fan of the Baroque – it’s too flowery and over the top for me.

    • Ah! There is so much more than the Baroque – which I can’t stand either – at Chatsworth. Judging from your blog posts you’d enjoy the art and if you noticed my favourite thing of all in that great house was one painting of a violin and bow – but what a painting! Give it a go one day and I will be interested to read your take on it!

      • ms6282 says:

        I’ll follow up on your recommendation. After reading your post it’s now on my (ever growing!) list of places I must visit.

  3. Oh dear, I hope it lives up to your expectation. I should add it was such a lousy day weatherwise that I’m sure the crowds were very sparse for this reason. Normally any July day it would be packed to the gills but plenty of space in the gardens and grounds.

  4. Simon T says:

    Lovely post of our day, Barbara, and wonderful to see it in relation to its previous manifestations.

  5. […] discussion group for our annual ‘Summer Meeting’ away from London (last year we were at Chatsworth).  This year’s venue was Great Malvern in Worcestershire. I had never been there before, nor […]

  6. […] least, it was in 2013 that I last posted about one. That was in Malvern and before that, in 2012, Chatsworth. This year it was the turn of […]

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