Tuesday, 21 August 2007


I defined my personal idea of heaven this weekend. It's the library at Chatsworth. Wall to wall books (many of which are ancient, rare and incredibly interesting), several squishy sofas, a grand piano, fireplace and plenty of friendly members of staff to make sure the ginger biscuits/coffee/gin never ran out.

While not fantasizing about the after-life, I also enjoyed looking around the exhibition about the 11th Duke of Devonshire, with a good audioguide which included interviews with friends, colleagues and his wife (Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire makes a daunting tongue-twister). 'Debo' is the only surviving Mitford sister, and numerous books about her fascinating family can be found in the well-stocked gift shops. Throughout the house paintings and photographs depict the Devonshire clan over many generations, and their art collection is pretty incredible, especially considering many gems had to be sold off to cover the 80% death duties when the 10th Duke died unexpectedly in 1950.

Though the weather wasn't particularly good (think November drizzle rather than August sun), the gardens were still lovely, with the low cloud eerily drawing in the horizon and damping down the noise of our fellow visitors. The variety of plants and settings is captivating, with an astonishing giant rockery of boulders and elaborate water features powered by gravity alone. A colleague tells me it is a spectacular place to visit at Christmas, with decorations everywhere, themed activities and music throughout, so I may have to try to persuade my little humbug S that a return visit would be fun, even if there may be Jolly People full of the dreaded Christmas Cheer around.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Wow, that does indeed sound heavenly.

Equally heavenly are your pub recommendations further down the page - Waldron is only 15 mins from me so am hatching a weekend plan of pubbery.


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