Reviewed by Deb Narciso
Chatsworth House is well signposted and easy to find.
Driving down the long sweeping drive you get the first view of this mansion and the scale of the estate. It is the impressive home of 16 generations of the Cavendish family – Georgina the Duchess of Devonshire was featured in the film ‘Duchess’ and was a distant relative of the late Diana Princess of Wales. The house has also featured in the recent film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice so somehow feels familiar.
The house took us a good hour and a half to look around. We stopped and read the informative sheets in every room and chatted to the well informed staff. As you can imagine 16 generations of the same family living in the same house has led to a vast quantity of collections. Each generation adding and making its mark for history. It has the feel of a loved family home, despite its vast size, and the current incumbents have added their own collection of modern art to the house. This year a selection of contemporary seat designs are featured in the house; some are specially commissioned, others are from the Duke and Duchess’s private collection. The delightful thing about this collection is that you can sit on most of them under the hash tag “make yourself comfortable”. My own personal favourite was the collection of seating growing out of the floor of the sculpture gallery. Sitting on these gave a new perspective on the marble sculptures displayed there.
We wandered through the immaculate garden and would have spent longer enjoying it if the rain hadn’t been coming down quite heavily at this stage! The greenhouses provided shelter from the rain with an interesting collection of plants. We walked up to the cottage garden, kitchen garden and sensory garden. Unfortunately the cascade is closed for renovations at the moment but will be an impressive sight when it is up and running again. The Emperor fountain and Canal pond can be viewed from the house during your visit but up close shows the sheer size of this project.
If you are visiting with children you won’t want to miss the farmyard and the adventure playground.
The staff and volunteers throughout the venue were helpful and informative. One explained that the current Duke feels the venue is all about “stuff and staff”. This sums up really well the whole visit; the lovely staff and interesting collections make the house well worth visiting.
The Carriage House offers a good range of hot and cold food. The soup, sandwiches and cake we sampled were delicious and made freshly on site. The staff were helpful and pleasant. There is also a waitress serviced restaurant, a picnic shop with ample seating outside and various units selling hot and cold drinks, ice creams and tasty treats. Outside the farmyard and adventure area there is also a picnic site.
The shops on site are well presented and offer an interesting array of gifts and purchases; many are based on items from the Chatsworth collections. The stable block has been well organised to show areas dedicated to certain products such as toys, home wares and garden equipment. The newly renovated orangery shop had a range of personal gifts such as jewellery, scarves, cushions and mugs.
At £22.00 for an adult to go in (plus £3.00 to park the car) it offers good value for money. Arrive early and take advantage of the timed events such as the informative garden tour, the introductory talk about the house or animal handling at the farm. These events are all free but there are also others which you can pay extra for such as a trailer discovery tour. If you buy the Complete Chatsworth ticket you can use it for another visit later in the season and have half price entry.
We would thoroughly recommend this venue and consider it to be good value for money.
Tickets from £6 to £68 (see website for full pricing details).
For more information or to book tickets visit www.chatsworth.org.
Chatsworth House, Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1PP