A Christmas Video Tour of Chatsworth House’s Decorated State Rooms

Home to the Cavendish family since 1549

Linda Acaster

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Screenshot of video of Chatsworth House 2020 Christmas Tour
Screenshot from Chatsworth House Christmas Tour video below via YouTube. (Click on images to enlarge)

Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, England, has been passed through sixteen generations of the Cavendish family since Sir William Cavendish bought the estate and began building a home for himself and his new wife, Bess of Hardwick.

Not just any home would do. It needed to mirror both his rank and to host the royal court during its annual progress through the country. As Treasurer to the King’s Chamber, he worked under Henry VIII at the end of his life, the short reign of his son, Edward VI, and Henry’s infamous elder daughter, “Bloody” Mary I.

The title Duke and Duchess of Devonshire was acquired by a descendent, and succeeding generations remodelled the house and grounds, improving the estate lands which paid for its opulence. It wasn’t to last.

Chatsworth House, south elevation with lake and Emperor Fountain by John Paxton in foreground.
Chatsworth House, south elevation, with Grade II listed Emperor Fountain constructed by Joseph Paxton 1843. Image by Kev747 (Public Domain) via Wikimedia

As with many grand country houses, the pivoting of the country’s economy during the Industrial Revolution, followed by successive death duty taxes, and the social change brought about by two world wars, saw Chatsworth continually having to sell land and goods to stay afloat. These included books printed by William Caxton, who brought the first printing press to England in the 1470s, and folios and quartos from the hand of William Shakespeare.

Unwilling to see the huge property fall into dereliction, or be administered as a museum, plans were drawn up for the Chatsworth House Trust, and a new business model inaugurated. It was, and is, a great success. The current 12th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire reside in the house, welcoming film crews, weddings, all manner of events, and over 600,000 visitors a season into the house alone, plus those to the landscaped gardens and parklands.

In 2000 the Duke decided to decorate part of the house for a Christmas visitor tour, and this has been added to over the years. Planning and construction takes sixteen months, and to physically dress the rooms takes a team three weeks. There is a light show trail through the gardens, and a Christmas Market in the grounds.

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Linda Acaster

British multi-genre fiction author who haunts historical sites - check out her publication 'Escape Into History'. For novel links: www.lindaacaster.com