Discovering Hidden Chatsworth

Chatsworth House is one of England’s finest stately homes, located on the east bank of the River Derwent in rural Derbyshire.  The vast estate is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire and has been home to the Cavendish family since 1549.

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
Chatsworth House

After Chatsworth closes its doors following a busy Christmas period one might be forgiven for thinking that the staff would be taking a well earned rest.  This is actually far from the truth as a 12 week programme of conservation, deep cleaning, repair and restoration takes place in readiness for its spring re-opening.

Hidden Chatsworth Tour
Packing away artefacts during the Hidden Chatsworth Tour

We were invited to take a ‘behind the scenes tour’ of this magnificent stately home as part of an offer exclusively available to guests staying on the Chatsworth Estate for a two night mid-week stay.  Accommodation options include one of the Devonshire Hotels or cottage boltholes on the Chatsworth Estate.

The Cavendish Hotel, Chatsworth, Derbyshire
The Cavendish Hotel on the Chatsworth Estate

We’d arranged to stay at The Cavendish Hotel, a luxurious country house hotel located in the picturesque Peak District village of Baslow, just a 20 minute walk across the fields to Chatsworth or for the less energetic a mere five minute hop in the car.

Dinner in the Gallery Restaurant at the Cavendish Hotel, Chatsworth
Enjoying dinner in the hotel’s fine dining restaurant

After arriving the previous afternoon and settling into our charming room oozing country house elegance, we spent the evening enjoying the delicious fine dining menu in the hotel’s opulent Gallery restaurant.

Footpath from the Cavendish Hotel, Baslow to Chatsworth House
The footpath from the hotel across the fields to Chatsworth House

The following morning, after a leisurely breakfast we headed over to Chatsworth House in readiness for the start of our 10.45 a.m. Hidden Chatsworth tour where we were met outside the North Gate by Josie, one of the specialist house tour guides.

Hidden Chatsworth tour
Our informative guide pointed out interesting features during our tour

Tours are limited to a maximum of 20 guests and we were delighted to have this rare opportunity to step inside Chatsworth to take a close-up look behind the scenes.  Our tour took us throughout the house and we not only learnt about all the maintenance work required but also got to explore all the normal areas of Chatsworth that you might see on a standard tour.  It was a real bonus visiting the house when it was so quiet, leisurely observing the restoration process taking place ahead of its re-opening to the general public in late March.

Intricate wood carvings in Chatsworth House
Intricate wood carvings along Chatsworth’s corridors

Josie explained that each small group tour is unique as it focuses on particular projects taking place at that time such as restoring gold leaf on a wood carving to the cleaning materials used to restore delicate fabrics.

Deep cleaning taking place at Chatsworth House
Deep cleaning taking place during our visit

We observed much deep cleaning taking place as we toured many of the rooms and state apartments. Restorers were busy dusting picture rails accessed by an electrically operated lifting platform and hand polishing the delicate marble floor in the exquisite Painted Hall so as not to damage the surface.

Restoration work taking place whilst Chatsworth is closed to the public
Restoration work taking place during our tour

Participating in the ‘Hidden Chatsworth’ tour was a real eye-opener into the world of deep cleaning and renovating a stately home as before visiting I had though that spring cleaning my own home was a real chore.  However, it pales into insignificance after learning about all the meticulous planning and expertise required to maintain Chatsworth for generations to come.

Polishing delicate artefacts at Chatsworth House
Polishing delicate artefacts at Chatsworth House

It had been a wonderful opportunity to view Chatsworth’s most impressive rooms, learn about its rich history and to find out about its ongoing conservation and restoration programme.

The State Bedchamber at Chatsworth House
The State Bedchamber

Our short break staying on the Chatsworth estate was also the perfect excuse to enjoy a few days away in the stunning Peak District, the first of Britain’s National Parks covering 555 square miles and being designated a national park over 70 years ago in 1951.

Cavendish Hotel Lounge, Baslow
The Cavendish Hotel where we stayed oozed country house charm

If you might also be interested in joining one of these fascinating Hidden Chatsworth tours they are taking place between Monday and Thursday each week until 3rd March, giving an insight into restoring Chatsworth.  A choice of accommodation is available from the luxurious Cavendish Hotel where we were based to their two charming country inns and cottage boltholes located nearby.  The Devonshire Arms at Beeley originated as three separate cottages in 1726 which were then combined and converted into an inn in 1747.

The Devonshire Arms, Pilsley on the Chatsworth estate
The Devonshire Arms, Pilsley on the Chatsworth estate

Slightly confusingly, the other inn located in the small village of Pilsley is also called The Devonshire Arms.  This has been a traditional village pub since the 18th century and was only relatively recently developed into an inn with stylish rooms.  More information on the Hidden Chatsworth offer can be found here.

We were guests of Devonshire Hotels and Chatsworth House and as always all views and opinions are entirely my own.

 

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Hidden Chatsworth

 

40 thoughts on “Discovering Hidden Chatsworth

  1. I have been to Chatsworth and it’s for sure a great house, but what a lovely way to explore the house when it’s still so to speak sleeping and getting a behind the scenes insight. I volunteered for the NT a few times years ago and I remember them saying that even just restoring one picture can cost like 70k for a small one and several hundred thousand pounds for the really big once. Preservation, conservation etc of these places is really important, but also very costly.

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    1. You are half right 🙂 Chatsworth was the filming location for Pride and Prejudice 2005, the movie. The 1996 series was filmed at Lyme Park, which has very similar architecture. Sorry, I couldn’t help butting in, they are both on my to visit list precisely because of Pride and Prejudice.

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  2. I marvel at the opulence once enjoyed by those privileged few and wonder how they found income to support that lifestyle. Fortunately this is being preserved as a historical treasure. Too many ancient building lie rotting in the UK and Europe because those who owned them can no longer afford to maintain them.

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    1. It was once a different world Ian and a rare opportunity to take a sneak peek behind the scenes to learn about all the hard work required to maintain grand houses such as Chatsworth. Thank you for taking an avid interest in this post, it’s much appreciated. Marion

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  3. How elegant! There’s a city named Chatsworth here in Los Angeles (don’t know if it got its name from this place in England, though…), but Chatsworth in England is a lot more refine and beautiful…and definitely a lot more worth visiting! Thank you for taking us on a virtual tour of it. 🙂

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  4. Wow, what a magnificent English country house, especially the Painted Hall! Looks like Chatsworth House is a complete feast for the senses! I can only imagine how beautiful it must be during the Christmas season. Thanks for sharing and have a lovely weekend 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. Chatsworth is absolutely beautiful Aiva and I’m sure it’s dressed to perfection over Christmas. It was so interesting discovering all the behind the scenes work that goes into keeping the grand house in tip top condition. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and enjoy a good weekend too!

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  5. What an interesting look behind the scenes, Marion. Must be nice seeing the house without the crowds and gaining valuable insight into all the cleaning routines and restoration work that normally visitors don’t get a chance to see. The history of the place must be intricate and absorbing.

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    1. It was a wonderful,opportunity to tour the house almost to ourselves and to observe the huge amount of work needed to prepare Chatsworth for it’s re-opening. The surrounding estate is beautiful too, and despite it being a dull day we enjoyed a pleasant stroll through the parkland setting. Hope you have a great weekend with your brother visiting.

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  6. Good memories for me Marion. We were so lucky to not only visit here in 2017 with our friends from Sheffield, but to also walk through the area. It was a great visit. Thanks for sharing your experience. Allan

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  7. That’s why our house is small and we are living minimalistic 😊 … not too much to clean! But what a massive task it must be to clean Chatsworth House!! All the artefacts must take hours and hours to clean. And you know what else I found very interesting … your plate at the restaurant ☺️ … I like it a lot!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Corna. It was a fascinating experience to discover what goes on behind closed doors of this famous stately home and to be able to take a look around when it was so quiet. You are very sensible to live in a minimalist home. Ours is lovely but old, rambling and full of clutter! Have a great weekend! Marion

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Our Hidden Chatsworth tour was very interesting observing all the renovations, deep cleaning and restoration work taking place alongside a tour of this magnificent house. Thank you for taking an interest, it’s much appreciated.

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