(Ad-On to this Post, I think you might be interested in this fascinating article about Downton Abbey!)
Get in the car Girlfriends, we’re going back to England today! You will need your comfy shoes! This is a long one!
When Joe and I were in England we never had a chance to go to Highclere Castle, the location for Downton Abbey, because they were filming and the house was closed to the public. But with the season finale behind us, I thought you might be feeling a vacuum and would like to come with me to visit another of the largest and most popular Country Houses in England called Chatsworth House, in North Derbyshire.
We were staying in the Peak District, and with country views like this the whole way to Chatsworth House, we actually didn’t care if we ever got there~~~ the getting there was just as good as the being there!
But you will be needing MUSICA now and I know just the thing! Also, on my computer, there’s a little button that has a sun-like icon on the upper left corner of my keyboard, if you have one of those, click on it and brighten up your screen for our visit . . .
It is a very long narrow drive to the house through meadows where lambs are allowed to cross without supervision, no Bo Peep to keep things organized. As you go along you suddenly come upon the first view of the house. This is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, they still live in part of the house, and the rest of it is open to public. There is so much history here, it’s a fascinating look back in time. You can get an idea of how big it is when you see the tiny people in the photo.
The house seems almost overwhelming! But look at that lucky couple down there, sitting on the lawn next to the river, doesn’t that look wonderful?
Here we are, we’ve parked and are heading for the arched entrance. Stay together girls.
We walked through that arch, I turned around to look back, you guys all got behind me really fast! The countryside around the house is as beautiful as a park and goes on forever.
This is my favorite outside picture. I just love that gnarly weeping tree coming out of the little grassy daisy hill in the middle of the circular drive, it has so much character. I can easily imagine Mr. Darcy strolling out that door! Chatsworth is the house where the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice was filmed. Would you like to go inside, because we can, and guess what, we can bring the camera!!! Shocking! (say it with an English accent.)
Everything that you can imagine one of these houses having, this has. Here is the family car. Can you imagine? Look how high off the ground it is, there must have been a little step so you could get in.
You’d need help because you’d very likely be wearing this …
Even though you’d just worn it other day to have your portrait done by, oh what that fellow’s name? Was it John? Yes, that was it! Such a lovely man . . .
. . . he certainly knew his way around a paint brush!
But let’s go see what’s going on upstairs … we really aren’t downstairs people anyway, are we girlfriends? At least not today!
We can walk four abreast on this staircase! Prepare yourself, no expense was spared in this amazing house.
Every hallway is lined in wonderful art and furniture….
but my favorites are the details. This gold chair rail ran the length of the hall. And look at the gold frame on the chair, and the fabric!
Almost like jewelry! But I’m sure you girls would rather be picking whose going to get which bedroom, right?
This is a nice one …
With a nice fireplace, just as cozy as can be . . .
And there are your perfect little hand towels, I could be happy in here.
Oops, I hear footsteps ~~~ Time out for breakfast here at Spring Street Abbey . . .
I did not dress for breakfast! But Oh My! But my butler pretends not to notice and does a magnificient job! Yum yum ~~ OK, tummy is warmed up now . . . let’s go see another bedroom~ I feel a nap coming on!
Lovely little beds, draped in beautiful fabrics, and look there’s a nightgown all set out.
To Die For. Original hand-painted Wallpaper. Please. I don’t even want to tell you how many pictures I took of this!
In case you need to write a letter . . .
Or would like to take a bath (a modern convenience, the water closet) . . .
You’ll have help … the Ladies Maid will get you dressed, pop you into that bustle, because,
That painter guy is back and you need to be beautiful for your sitting!
I had a nice long chat with the Lady’s Maid there — I asked if there was jealousy among the servants; did she, as “Ladies Maid to the Duchess” (the part she was playing), feel ostracized by the others? She answered that she did! She was in a difficult position; the downstairs people, who should have been her friends, wanted to know all the gossip and secrets of the house and everything they could about the Duchess, but if the maid breathed a word, she would be fired.
What I wonder is what they told their families about this place when they went home to “real life” and what did they really think about houses like this?
Most of the ceilings are hand painted with cherubs and angels.
Look at the size of this mirror! And the beautiful hand-carving around the door. I am the only thing that looks a bit out of place in all this grandeur.
I walked through three more doorways and then took the same picture of the mirror. This house is huge, this is maybe a tenth of what there is to see. Besides the paintings, the hallways are filled with displays of silver urns, huge engraved platters, covered dishes, ice buckets, it truly goes on and on.
Look at this carving … the whole wall is like this, but it was the birds and the tiny flowers around the fireplace that I loved.
This is where thirteen-year-old Princess Victoria had her first grown-up dinner. The table is sent for twenty, but you could easily have gotten forty people around it. (Sixty might have been just the right amount of cozy for grilled-cheese night.) I have had backyards smaller than the tablecloth. Can you imagine ironing that? No wonder they needed so much help. Which is why today, if these large houses are to keep going, they have to think of creative ways to keep themselves afloat, such as opening the rooms to the public and charging admission, or becoming a Hotel, or, like Highclere and many other Country Houses, rent them for movie and television locations.
I took close-up photographs of the huge fringed tiebacks in every room, and later, when I looked at Joe’s pictures, he did too! Quite amazing little bits of art.
There were two gold-trimmed fireplaces in the dining room. It was easy to imagine them both ablaze, firelight glinting off silver and glass on the table. The view out the windows went far up the hillside, we could picture it blanketed with snow, horses and carriages coming up the drive . . .
As we leave the dining room, on our way to the gift shop we go through this amazing marble room full of statuary.
The gift shop is in what used to be the “Orangery,” a greenhouse, where orange trees and other exotic plants wintered over harsh winters. They had full size faux lambs in the store, it was all I could do not to try and bring one home!
Everything was beautifully cared for, there were acres of garden walks too, and a huge maze. But I bet you’ve had enough and you’re probably ready to sit down. When we were here, I waited for Joe to come out of the gift shop, in one of these purple chairs writing in my diary and playing Words with Friends with my girlfriend Lowely on Martha’s Vineyard.
It’s like a food court area just inside that large arch we came through when we arrived. And in case you’d like to keep in touch with Chatsworth House, you can follow them on Twitter … @ChatsworthHouse Also, here are some interesting overhead views of Chatsworth House, so you can see how big it really is.
I ordered sandwiches for everyone, so rest your feet a bit because I do believe it’s time I go get Vanna . . .
Oh my, Girlfriends . . . Almost 2,200 entries for our drawing, and every one of them a pearl. It’s amazing! You are so wonderful, so many nice comments have brought tears to my eyes more than once!!! Thank you, thank you! And thank you for being so excited about the book. I’m just thrilled, you bought a kazillion of them! Did you know that would happen? Because I didn’t! It’s been such a surprise, honestly, I never realized such a nice thing could happen! Writing a book “with blog” is about a thousand times more fun than without. Now I can’t wait until it comes out so Joe and I can start wandering the countryside to meet as many of you as possible. I have a lot to do before then, so we’ll be keeping in touch! 🙂
OK, here goes, I’m lookin’ at YOU Vanna, dig in there you sweet thing, and make someone’s day. ♥
Alright, here we are. Oh my, it’s a girlfriend from California who loves red and white. Does that sound like you? Is your name Gail??? Because if so, then YOU are our lucky winner. You should find an email in your box from me — Let me know where to send the first copy of A Fine Romance. CONGRATULATIONS! SO HAPPY FOR YOU!
And don’t worry if you’re not Gail! There are going to be plenty of other surprises in the future, you know there will be, and really now, after our long trip . . . isn’t it time for a comfy cup of tea? That’s where I’m going!
XOXO Love you Girlfriends.♥