Sunday, December 26, 2010

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England

Chatsworth House is a large country house in central Derbyshire, England, 3½ miles northeast of Bakewell and 9 miles west of Chesterfield. It is the seat of theDuke of Devonshire, and has been home to his family, the Cavendish family, since Bess of Hardwick settled at Chatsworth in 1549.
Standing on the east bank of the River Derwent, Chatsworth looks across to the low hills that divide the Derwent and Wye valleys. The house is set in expansive parkland, and backed by wooded, rocky hills rising to heather moorland and contains a unique collection of priceless paintings, furniture, Old Master drawings, neoclassical sculptures, books and other artifacts. Chatsworth has been selected as the United Kingdom's favourite country house several times.

   The name 'Chatsworth' is a corruption of 'Chetel's-worth' meaning 'the Court of Chetel'. In the reign of Edward the confessor a man of Norse origin named 'Chetel' held lands jointly with a Saxon named 'Leotnoth' in three townships; Ednesoure to the west of the Derwent, and Langoleie and Chetesuorde to the east. Chetel was deposed after the Norman Conquest and in the Domesday Book the Manor of Chetesuorde is listed as the property of the Crown in the custody of William de Peverel. Chatsworth ceased to be a large estate, until the 15th century when it was acquired by the Leche family who owned property nearby. They enclosed the first park at Chatsworth and built a house on the high ground in what is now the south-eastern part of the garden. In 1549 they sold all their property in the area to Sir William Cavendish, Treasurer of the King's Chamber and the husband of Bess of Hardwick, who had persuaded him to sell his property in Suffolk and settle in her native county.
Bess began to build the new house in 1553.The house was on the same site as the present main block and had the same quadrangle layout, approximately 170 feet (52 m) from north to south and 190 feet (58 m) from east to west, with a large central courtyard.

The front entrance was on the west front, which was embellished with four towers or turrets, and the great hall in the medieval tradition was on the east side of the courtyard, where the Painted Hall remains the focus of the house to this day. Sir William died in 1557, but Bess finished the house in the 1560s and lived there with her fourth husband, George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. In 1568 Shrewsbury was entrusted with the custody of Mary, Queen of Scots, and brought his prisoner to Chatsworth several times from 1570 onwards. She lodged in the apartment now known as the Queen of Scots rooms, on the top floor above the great hall, which faces onto the inner courtyard.  She bequeathed Chatsworth to her son Henry Cavendish who sold it to his younger brother William, who was 4th Earl of Devonshire in 1618 and  who was to become the 1st Duke in 1694. He  was an advanced Whig and was forced to retire to Chatsworth during the reign of James II. This called for a rebuilding of the house, which began in 1687. Cavendish initially planned to reconstruct only the south wing, so he decided to retain the Elizabethan courtyard plan, despite the fact that this layout was becoming increasingly unfashionable.
   The south and east fronts were built under the order of William Talman and were complete by 1696. The 1st Duke's Chatsworth was a key building in the development of English Baroque architecture. The facades to the central courtyard were also rebuilt by the 1st Duke. The courtyard was larger than it is now, as there were no corridors on the western side and the northern and southern sides only had enclosed galleries on the first floor (second floor in American English) with open galleries below. In the 19th century new accommodation was built on these three sides on all three levels. The only surviving baroque facade is that on the eastern side, where five bays of the original seven remain, and are largely as built. There are carved trophies by Samuel Watson, a Derbyshire craftsman who did a lot work at Chatsworth in stone, marble and wood. A richly appointed Baroque suite of state rooms open one from another in an enfilade across the south front. Other surviving interiors from this period include the chapel and the painted hall.

At first the Earl only intended to rebuild the south front, but with the accession of William III and the elevation of the Earl to a Dukedom his schemes became grander, and by 1707 he had in fact rebuilt the whole house. Talman was certainly responsible for the south and east fronts, and Thomas Archer – the architect of St John’s, Smith Square and other churches in London – for the north. The designer of the west front remains something of a mystery, but it is possible that it may have been the invention of the Duke himself, who certainly had claims to be a competent amateur architect. This possibility is perhaps substantiated by the fact that the design is based on a famous French model which the Duke could have known from engravings: Jules Hardouin Mansart’s central pavilion at Marly. This was built for Louis XIV, a great enemy of England and a particular object of hatred to a Whig like the 1st Duke; but it is typical of the relations between European countries in the 17th and 18th centuries that political differences did not prevent cultural interchanges.

The Duke devoted as much attention to the interior of the house as to the exterior. A team of the finest craftsmen available in England had been busy since 1689 with the painting and stuccoing of ceilings, the panelling of walls and the forging of wrought iron for banisters, thereby making the rooms, hall, staircases and chapel of Chatsworth among the most splendid to be found in any English country house. The painters were the Frenchman Louis Laguerre, the Italian Antonio Verrio, and in the last phase the Englishman James Thornhill; the sculptors included Caius Gabriel Cibber, who designed the altarpiece in the chapel, and Samuel Watson, whose wood carvings long passed as the work of Grinling Gibbons; the ironwork was by Jean Tijou, the greatest virtuoso of the period in his art.
This is the ceremonial entrance hall of the 1st Duke’s house, a fitting prelude to the State (Royal) Apartments above. The upper part has not been changed since it was painted in 1692-4 with scenes from the life of Julius Caesar by Louis Laguerre (1663-1721), but the floor and stairs have been altered several times. The marble floor replaced stone in 1779 and was re-laid by the 6th Duke in 1834.The staircase has been altered twice since the 1st Duke’s twin curved stairs were built. The architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville (1766-1840) designed a single flight and matching galleries along the east and west walls in 1833. They were demolished and replaced by the present stairs and single gallery, designed by W. H. Romaine-Walker for the 9th Duke of Devonshire in 1912. The gilt ironwork was copied from the balustrade wrought (1689) by the French smith Jean Tijou on the Great Stairs above.

At the same time as he was rebuilding the house, the 1st Duke also created baroque gardens. It featured numerous parterres cut into the slopes above the house, and many fountains, garden buildings and classical sculptures. The principal surviving features from this time is The Cascade and Cascade House is a set of stone steps over which water flows from a set of fountains at the top. It was built in 1696 and rebuilt on a grander scale in 1701. In 1703 a grand baroque Temple or Cascade House designed by Thomas Archer was added at the top. A major restoration of both the Cascade and the Cascade House in 1994–1996 took 10,000 man-hours of work. In 2004 the Cascade was voted the best water feature in England by a panel of 45 garden experts organised by Country Life. It has 24 cut steps, each slightly different and with a variety of textures so that each gives a different sound when water runs over and down them.
Grand Cascade 

The chapel was built between 1688 and 1693 and has remained unaltered ever since. If the 1st Duke could return to Chatsworth he would immediately recognise his creation. Laguerre and Ricard painted the walls and ceilings with scenes from the life of Christ. Verrio painted the picture of Doubting Thomas over the altar. The two large flanking figures were executed by Cibber, the designer of the altarpiece which Samuel Watson and his assistants from London carved of local alabaster.
The four black marble columns were hewn from a single block quarried on Sheldon Moor, a few miles away. The room has a strong smell which comes from the cedar wainscot, and not from incense as many people think. The lime wood carvings are by Samuel Watson. The pair of huge brass candlesticks was bought for Ј60 in London in 1691. The needlework seats and backs of the tall chairs were worked in gross point for the 6th Duke by friends and relations whose names are painted on them. The chairs themselves are 17th century. The sister of the present (11th) Duke, Lady Anne Cavendish was married in the Chapel to Mr Michael Tree in 1949.

During the 18th century relatively few changes were made to the house, but between 1755 and 1764 the 4th Duke commissioned James Paine to build the magnificent stables, whose richly rusticated style justifies their description as among the most baroque buildings in England. He also employed Lancelot Brown, usually known as “Capability” Brown, to replant the park in the new picturesque style, and the part of the village of Edensor which could be seen from the house was demolished.

The 6th Duke (known as 'the Bachelor Duke') was a passionate traveller, builder, gardener and collector who transformed Chatsworth. In 1811 he inherited the title and eight major estates; Chatsworth and Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, Devonshire House, Burlington House and Chiswick House in London, Bolton Abbey and Londesborough Hall in Yorkshire, and Lismore Castle in Ireland. These estates covered 200,000 acres (810 km2) of land in England and Ireland.
The 6th Duke wrote that he was tempted to demolish the state apartment, to make way for new bedrooms. However, sensitive to his family's heritage, he left the rooms largely untouched, making additions rather than change the existing spaces of the house. At around the same time, Queen Victoria decided that Hampton Court, with its state apartments in the same style, was uninhabitable.
The 6th Duke employed architect Jeffry Wyatville to modernise Chatsworth, meeting 19th century standards of comfort and suiting a less formal lifestyle than that of the 1st Duke's time. The Oak Stairs were built at the northern end of the Painted Hall to improve internal communications. The Duke was a great book collector and had the long gallery converted into a library with an elegant white decor embellished with green malachite columns. He soon found that he needed more shelf space, so he had the room stripped bare and installed a new interior with bookcases covering nearly all of the walls and a wooden gallery for access to the higher shelves. Changes to the main baroque interiors were restricted to details such as stamped leather hangings on the walls of the State Music Room and State Bedroom, and a wider and shallower, but less elegant staircase in the Painted Hall, which was itself later replaced.
Originally this room was the 1st Duke’s Long Gallery. The ceiling of gilded stucco by Edward Goudge, with paintings by Verrio, survives from this time and its design is reflected in the Axminster carpet which was woven when the room was altered.
The 6th Duke fitted the room out as a library. He bought several complete collections of books to add to the many he inherited and he and Wyatville designed the present gallery and bookcases to receive them, c. 1830. There are over 17,000 volumes in here and in the Ante-Library, and more than 50,000 in the whole collection including many fine 19th and 20th Century books purchased by the present Duke of Devonshire.

In the 1st Duke's house the most important service rooms were in the main block. There was also a straggle of service buildings to the north of the house, which was replaced with an unassuming neoclassical service wing in the second half of the 18th century. The 6th Duke and Wyatville built a new North Wing, doubling the size of the house. Most of this wing only has two storeys, compared to the three of the main block's. It is attached to the north-east corner of the house near the library, and is around 400 feet (120 m) long. On the first floor, facing west, were two sets of bachelor bedrooms called 'California' and 'The Birds'. The entire ground floor was occupied by service rooms, including a kitchen, servants' hall, laundry, butler and housekeeper's rooms, and many others.

The 6th Duke's main dining room

Statue Hall

The main rooms in the new wing face east. The link to the main house is a small library called the Dome Room. The first room beyond this is a dining room, with a music gallery in the serving lobby where the Duke's musicians played. Next is the sculpture gallery, the largest room in the house, and then the orangery. At the end of the North Wing is the North, or Belvedere Tower. This contains a plunge bath and Chatsworth's private Theatre. Above the theatre is the belvedere itself, an open viewing platform below the roof. The Duke built a gatehouse at this end of the house with three gates. The central and largest gate led to the North Entrance, then the main entrance to the house. This is now the entrance used by visitors. The north gate led to the service courtyard, and the matching south gate led to the original front door in the west front, which was relegated to secondary status in the Bachelor Duke's time, but is now the family's private entrance once again. The work was carried out in an Italianate style that blends moothly with the elaborate finish of the baroque house. The Duke had a passion for marble, and used it repeatedly to embellish the new interiors. A Latin transcription over the fireplace in the painted hall translates as, "William Spencer, Duke of Devonshire, inherited this most beautiful house from his father in the year 1811, which had been begun in the year of English liberty 1688, and completed it in the year of his bereavement 1840". 1688 was the year of the Glorious Revolution, supported by the Whig dynasties including the Cavendishes. The year 1840 saw the death of the Duke's beloved niece Blanche, who was married to his heir, the future 7th Duke. In 1844 he published a book called Handbook to Chatsworth and Hardwick. 
The Duke’s architect was Jeffry Wyatt, who was recommended to him by the 6th Duke of Bedford, for whom Wyatt had worked as Woburn Abbey. A few years later, having changed his name to Wyatville, he was to gain fame by his remodelling of Windsor Castle for George IV.
In October 1832, Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria) and her mother, the Duchess of Kent, visited Chatsworth. The 6th Duke had another opportunity to welcome Victoria in 1843 when the Queen and Prince Albert returned to be entertained by a large array of illuminated fountains.
In the early 20th century social change and taxes began to affect the Devonshires' lifestyle. When the 8th Duke died in 1908 over £500,000 of death duties became due. This was a small charge compared to what followed forty-two years later, but the estate was already burdened with debt from the 6th Duke's extravagances, the failure of the 7th Duke's business ventures at Barrow-in-Furness, and the depression in British agriculture that had been apparent since the 1870s. In 1912 the family sold twenty-five books printed by William Caxton and a collection of 1,347 volumes of plays acquired by the 6th Duke, including four Shakespeare folios and thirty-nine Shakespeare quartos, to the Huntington Library in California. Tens of thousands of acres of land in Somerset, Sussex and Derbyshire were also sold during, and immediately after, World War I. In 1920 the family's London mansion, Devonshire House, which occupied a 3 acres (12,000 m2) site on Piccadilly, was sold to developers and demolished. Much of the contents of Devonshire House was moved to Chatsworth and a much smaller house at 2 Carlton Gardens near The Mall was acquired. The Great Conservatory in the garden at Chatsworth was demolished as it needed ten men to run it, huge quantities of coal to heat it, and all the plants had died during the war when no coal had been available for non-essential purposes. To further reduce running costs, there was also talk of pulling down the 6th Duke's north wing, which was then regarded as having no aesthetic or historical value, but nothing came of it. Chiswick House—the celebrated Palladian villa in the suburbs of West London that the Devonshires inherited when the 4th Duke married Lord Burlington's daughter—was sold to Brentford Council in 1929.

Most of the UK's country houses were put to institutional use during World War II. Some of those used as barracks were badly damaged, but the 10th Duke, anticipating that schoolgirls would make better tenants than soldiers, arranged for Chatsworth to be occupied by Penrhos College, a girls' public school in Colwyn Bay, Wales. The school later merged with Rydal School to become Rydal Penrhos a co-educational private school. The contents of the house were packed away in eleven days and 300 girls and their teachers moved in for a six-year stay. The whole of the house was used, including the state rooms, which were turned into dormitories. Condensation from the breath of the sleeping girls caused fungus to grow behind some of the pictures. The house was not very comfortable for so many people, with a shortage of hot water, but there were compensations, such as skating on the Canal Pond. The girls grew vegetables in the garden as a contribution to the war effort.

In 1981 the family trustees created a separate charitable trust called 'The Chatsworth House Trust', to preserve the house and its setting. This trust was granted a 99-year lease by the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement of the house, its essential contents, the garden, park and some woods, a total of 1,822 acres (7.37 km2). The Chatsworth House Trust pays an annual rent of £1. The family sold some works of art, mainly old master drawings that could not be put on regular display, to raise a multimillion pound endowment fund. The family is represented on the trust council, but there is a majority of non-family members. The family pays a market rent for the use of its private apartments in the house. The cost of running the house and grounds is around £4 million a year.
The 11th Duke died in 2004 and was succeeded by his son, the current Duke, Peregrine Cavendish, 12th Duke of Devonshire. The 11th Duke's widow, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, is very active in promoting the estate and increasing its visitor income. She has been responsible for many additions to the gardens, including the maze, the kitchen, the cottage gardens and several commissions of modern sculpture. She has also written seven books about different aspects of Chatsworth and its estate.
Chatsworth has 126 rooms, with nearly 100 of them closed to visitors.

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