Chatsworth House is famous for a number of reasons: tremendous size, notable modern art exhibitions, playing Pemberly in the more recent Pride and Prejudice adaptations. But for me it is notable for one thing – the sheer gorgeous amount of gold that has been thrown at every possible surface. It has gold window frames. This is now my new life ambition.
If you know me or have ever seen my nail polish, you’ll know that gold is pretty much my favourite colour (with rusts and bronzes a very close second and forest-and-field greens coming in third). I know that it’s all been about copper and its rose-pink-and-grey tones recently so perhaps gold is a less fashionable penchant to have, but I think it’s sunnier in the summer and richer in the winter and so I will one day paint my windowframes with it anyway. (Not to mention my plans for a star-chamber ceiling.) So Chatsworth was a dream.
Chatsworth has been smoothly passed on through the same family for hundreds of years. In the fifteenth century the park at Chatsworth was enclosed and the first house built – this was then sold to William Cavendish and his wife the fierce Bess of Hardwick (another tease – I will blog about her properly soon). She began to build the new house in 1553, starting it alongside her second husband and finishing it alongside her fourth about ten years later. (They were given the dubious honour of guarding Mary Queen of Scots in the 1570s – and it was at Chatsworth that Bess and Mary embroidered the fascinating Oxburgh Hanging together.)
Not too much of this this sixteenth century history remains – Chatsworth was remade in the classical style at the end of the seventeenth century (by William Cavendish 4th Earl and 1st Duke of Devonshire). After that, the interior was altered and altered with the fashions, but the overall impression is still strongly Baroque – as much of everything as possible.
(I seem to have been having a couple of problems with my film camera that day – I think it was a bit over-awed, as was I.)
It’s all a bit much for this lion and he’s had to take a nap. And who can blame him – the grandiose rooms, the vast parkland peppered with contemporary art, the lush gardens – Chatsworth does not do things by halves, and with a south front like this, why would it.
This post is called ‘part 1’ because all of this gilt and gold made me want to share some pictures of my bedroom – can you guess the colour scheme? Although it’s rather more subtle than Chatsworth as I don’t have a dukedom to finance my passion. So that will be my next post.