Chatsworth House

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 8th September 2012


Sue and I were going to visit Durham Cathedral but we decided instead to visit Chatsworth.

I don’t know if you’ve heard the expression which we use down south of those who live in the north – where there’s muck there’s brass – and my goodness there was one incredible amount of money sloshing around in the pockets of the Dukes and Duchesses of Devonshire. The house is absolutely stuffed to the gunwhales with object d’arts, portraits, tapestries, carvings and artefacts brought over from Egypt, Greece etc.

The house is stunning. You round a corner and there it is – literally glistening in the sunshine due to the fact that the window frames have been gilded. We were told that a gilded window frame lasts four times longer than a painted one – but then you’ve got to have the money in the first place.

The gardens are a delight and not too formal. I think I liked The Rockery best of all – it isn’t the quaint type of rockery one associates with the average back garden but a huge scattering of massive boulders. I wonder if they were swept down at the end of a morain during an ice age.

The eating area is also very attractive situated in what would have been the stables quadrangle – four seating areas including a waitress service and self service.

The ‘Shop’ is extensive and caters for just about every taste from a packet of peacock designed napkins to pieces of garden furniture. They’ve even got a second hand book section and I saw a book by John Guy which I intended to buy at the end of the visit. However by the time we’d been on our feet for the best part of four hours enjoying the gardens and the house, mine simply didn’t relish the idea of walking back up the hill to the Coach and Stable block.

Several times we bumped into a delightful group of people and exchanged comments etc. I was rather outspoken over some of the modern art dotted around the house including a really awful (in my opinion) Damien Hurst statue of a flayed man carrying his own skin. I don’t like the works of Hurst or Tracey Emin and feel that they are ‘conning’ the public – or rather the public follow the critics in their praise and it’s a bit like ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. Call me a philistine if you like but there you are. However, I learned afterwards to my horror that one of the men in the group who did seem rather knowledgeable was actually the Duke of Devonshire’s right hand man. So – SORRY. Sue had learned of his role but hadn’t had the opportunity to pass the information on to me. However the gentleman did explain that Chatsworth is like a mini National Trust – although it is owned by the Dukes of Devonshire, they now live in only part of the house, pay rent and all the entrance money is re-invested to keep the splendid House and Gardens in top condition for we the public to enjoy.

There are so many superb works in the House from Old Masters, superb Grinling Gibbons carvings, to stunning collections of Silver Gilt Plate and a fascinating collection of sculptures. It’s almost too much to take in and one visit simply isn’t enough. However if you had questions there was a guide in every room only too pleased to help.

Strangely enough, the one item which I will remember forever is a trompe d'oeil portrait of a violin. A man in the little group we kept meeting asked a couple of times whether we'd seen 'The Violin'.  I'm so glad he did mention it otherwise I'd have passed it and just wondered why a violin was hung on a door - but it isn't it is an amazing three dimensional portrait and the only thing which is real is the nail from which it is hanging.

I was amazed to discover that one was allowed to take photos throughout the house and flash was allowed. In one room an alarm sounded and the guide explained that the flash had set it off.

When we arrived I felt the view of the house was spoiled by all the cars in front of it, but by the time we left almost all the cars had gone, there was a lovely soft evening light and the house looked gorgeous and almost seemed to say – Thank goodness, that's that for another day and  I can now return to my slumbers.

I couldn’t get a good shot of the front of the house because of the Car Park but Sue took this one to the side which I think gives a very good idea of its beauty.

Can’t wait to go for another visit although some people suggested that Haddon Hall is a must for next time and that’s only just down the road.




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