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Chatsworth, 1880[1]
Chatsworth House, woodblock print


THE situation of Chatsworth is exceedingly beautiful, in the romantic part of Derbyshire which Sir Walter Scott has celebrated in "Peveril of the Peak."

The house stands in a park upwards of eleven miles in circumference, stocked with immense herds of deer, and diversified with every variety of scenery - the heather-covered hill and sheltered valley, wooded height and gentle slope, the whole studded with majestic trees, the growth of centuries.

Chetelsworthe would seem to have been the original name of the place; derived from a Saxon owner named Chetel, the other part of the word meaning "Court."

In Domesday Book the word is written Chetesworth, and at the time of the Norman survey the manor belonged to the Crown, and was in the keeping of William Peveril.

It afterward, for many years, was held by a family named Leech. It was sold by them to the Agards.

It was purchased from them by Sir William Cavendish, ancestor of the Dukes of Devonshire, the owners since.

The old manor house was pulled down by him; but he only lived to begin the new mansion, dying in 1557. His widow, however, Elizabeth, the famous "Bess of Hardwick;" continued and completed the work.

During the civil wars Chatsworth was occupied at times by both parties. In 1643 it was garrisoned by Sir John Gell for the Parliament, but was recovered for the King the same year by the Earl of Newcastle, who placed a garrison in it under Colonel Eyre. In 1645 it was again held for the King by Colonel Shallcross, of Shallcross Hall, and was besieged by four hundred Parliamentarians under Colonel Gell, but he was forced to return after fourteen days attack.

Mary Queen of Scots was confined here during part of the years 1570, 1573, 1577, 1578, and 1581, and a small raised tower near the bridge still preserves the name of the Bower.

It is approached by a bridge over the river between Chatsworth and the village of Edensor, a veritable model village. The bridge was built by Paine, supposed to be from a design by Michael Angelo, and ornamented with fine marble figures by Cibber.

The house is ornamented inside with paintings, chiefly by Verrio, Laguerre, Ricard, Huyd, Highmore, and Sir James Thornhill, and wood carving by Gibbons, Watson, Young, Lobb, and Davis; and on the outside with stone carving by Cibber, Geeraerslius, Watson, Harris, Nost, Nedauld, Davis, Landscroom, and Auriol.

Along the whole of the front, extending upwards of one thousand two hundred feet, is the ornamental flower garden of singular beauty.

The following particulars are derived from The Guide Book.

The Hall contains numerous antique busts and figures, and two splendid vases which occupy the side openings of the North Corridor. This corridor has a tesselated pavement, tastefully inlaid with a variety of beautiful marbles, and is otherwise ornamented. Along the side walls are arranged some fine antiques, supported on brackets.

The Great Hall is sixty feet by twenty-seven feet. The mosaic floor was laid by Watson. The decorations by Verrio and Laguerre, are taken from the history of Julius Cæsar. In one compartment is represented the crossing of the Rubicon; in another his voyage across the Adriatic to his army at Brundusium; the left side contains his sacrifice previous to going to the Senate, after the closing of the temple of Janus; over the north entrance is his Death; and on the ceiling his Deification: the whole is wonderfully executed.

The Great South Staircase is adorned with paintings, and figures occupy the niches.

The State Apartments form the most magnificent portion of the oldest part of the mansion :-the ceilings exhibit the productions of the pencils of Verrio and Sir James Thornhill, among which are the Judgment of Paris, -Phaeton taking charge of the horses of the Sun, -Aurora, as the Morning Star, chasing away Night, -the Discovery of Mars and Venus, -and other mythological subjects. The floors are of oak, curiously inlaid, and the whole suite lined with wood of the choicest description, and furnished with costly cabinets, paintings by the old masters, and Gobelin tapestries of the Cartoons of Raphael.

In these rooms will be found many very rare and curious productions of art, ancient and modern: they contain the principal portion of the carvings in wood, so justly celebrated, and which have been noticed by Horace Walpole as the work of Gibbons. They comprise representations of dead game, fish, flowers, etc., grouped in a most admirable manner, -grouse, pheasants, partridges, quail, snipe, and woodcocks; the flowers exhibit the buoyancy and freshness of life.

The State Bed-room contains a bed of George II.; and also the chairs and footstools used at the coronation of George III. and Queen Charlotte. The fine canopy wrought by the Countess of Shrewsbury, and the wardrobe of Louis XIV. are also here.

In the State Music Room are the two gorgeously gilt chairs in which William IV. and Queen Adelaide were crowned. Here is a fine portrait of the first Duke of Devonshire in his robes of State by Mytems or Paul Vausomer.

In the State Drawing Room is a striking bust of Louis XIV., the head of which is bronze, and the lower portion of oriental alabaster. Here is also a model of a Russian Farm.

In the State Dining Room are busts on brackets, - William, fifth Duke of Devonshire; Francis, Duke of Bedford; Charles James Fox; and Lord George and Lady Cavendish. On a table of polished malachite, (a present from Alexander I. of Russia), stands the elegant malachite clock presented to His Grace by the late Czar Nicholas, accompanied by two fine square vases of the same material. Numerous other embellishments enhance the beauty of these magnificent rooms. The length of the suite is about one hundred and ninety feet. The view from these apartments is extremely beautiful. Overlooking the ornamental and extensive pleasure-grounds, enriched with every device of art, the eye wanders through the pleasant vale of Chatsworth to the wooded heights of Stanton and the green hill sides of Darley Dale.

The South Galleries.-In the upper of these Galleries are upwards of a thousand original drawings of a deeply interesting character, by Rubens, Salvator Rosa, Claude Lorraine, Raphael, Titian, Correggio, and others.

The Red Velvet Room (Billiard Room) abounds in beautiful pictures and art treasures. Its ceiling is richly decorated by Sir James Thornhill. Here is Eastlake's splendid picture of the Spartan Isidas. Here too is Bolton Abbey in the Olden Time, by Landseer.

The Great Drawing Room is a noble apartment, richly furnished and stored with valuable works of art. In this room is a table deserving particular attention: it is composed of different splendid minerals of various colours, and is not surpassed in beauty by anything of the kind in the house.

The Library is the second of the long range of rooms forming the east front, an extent of nearly five hundred and sixty feet. Count Björnstjerne, the Swedish Ambassador, on seeing this suite of rooms opened, pronounced it to be the finest in Europe.

The Great Library is one of the most splendid rooms in Chatsworth, and finished in a style unique in richness, elegance, and beauty. The ground of the ceiling is white, adorned with burnished gold ornamental work in basso relievo, forming a splendid framework to five circular paintings set like precious gems within. The bookcases are of Spanish mahogany, and are divided into compartments by semicircular metallic columns, richly gilt; these expand into a finely formed leaf, and support the floor of a gallery carried along three sides of the room, for the convenience of reaching books from the upper shelves, The gallery, which is approached by a secret stair, is defended by a handsome carved balustrade, ornamented with dead and burnished gold. The chimney-piece is of Carrara marble, finely sculptured in columns of wreathed foliage, and surmounted by a magnificent mirror, six feet by four feet six inches.

The Ante-Library is fitted up in the same style. The ceiling is adorned with a beautiful picture by Hayter, and two smaller subjects by Charles Landseer. An immense collection of medallions of distinguished persons, ancient and modern, are among the curiosities of this room. A door on the west side opens into the Great North Staircase, which is distinguished for its beauty and extent ; it is of oak, with richly carved balustrades, and contains portraits of the late Emperor of Russia and his Consort ; Richard, third Earl of Burlington ; and George IV. in his robes, by Sir Thomas Lawrence.

The Cabinet Library has a splendid coved ceiling, divided into compartments, and supported by columns of beautiful marble, rising from pedestals of pure statuary, and surmounted with richly gilt Corinthian capitals.

The Dining Room is the most splendid apartment in Chatsworth. The ceiling is slightly coved, and divided into numerous gilt panels on a ground of the purest white. The deep plinth that surrounds the room, and all below the sur-base, are of polished Hopton marble. The walls are adorned with family portraits, by Vandyke, Honthorst, and Sir Godfrey Kneller. The door-cases are columns of Sicilian jasper and African marble, based on suitable pedestals, and surmounted with Ionic capitals. The two chimney-pieces are unique in design, tastefully sculptured in the purest statuary, and adorned with life-sized figures in full relief: one is by the younger Westmacott, the other by Siever.

The Ante-room contains two figures in statuary marble; very appropriate ornaments for the positions they occupy, on each side the entrance to

The Sculpture Gallery.-This splendid saloon is one hundred and three feet in length; it is the depository of the finest works of art in Chatsworth.

The Orangery is a noble room, one hundred and eight feet long, well stored with orange trees of fine growth, some of which formed part of the collection of the Empress Josephine, at Malmaison; a Rhododendron Arboreum from Nepaul; choice exotica, and an infinite variety of shrubs and flowers.

The Gardens are very extensive, ranging from the house southward and eastward; and tastefully laid out in lawns and shrubberies, beautifully diversified with fountains and cascades. They abound in romantic scenes, serpentine walks, ornamented with sculptured figures and vases, picturesque trees, etc.

The Camellia House is well stocked with a variety of plants, which when blooming make a splendid show. The ground in front is laid out after the eastern style, with borders and shrubs interspersed with busts and figures, (among which are a colossal Flora, and two antiques, Isis and Osiris, brought by Mr. Banks from the great temple at Carnac), and Chinese scent jars, which give the whole a beautiful appearance.

The Water Works (by Grillet), are in the style of those at Versailles. The. Great Cascade is situated on the side of the hill eastward of Chatsworth; the structure at its head resembles a temple, and is a good architectural object from different parts of the grounds. This building is ornamented with the carved heads of lions, dolphins, sea nymphs, etc., through which, when in play, as well as from the floors and sides, the water rushes in great force.

A road winds through the rocky defiles of the cliff. On the right is seen an immense rocking-stone, near to which is the entrance to the fountain known as the "Weeping Willow."

When the whole of the Water Works are in operation the scene is magnificent.

The jets appear through and over the trees, and the dense water, rising in light wreathy columns, and reflected in the sun, contrasts beautifully with the varied foliage of the trees, and produces a most brilliant effect.

The Great Conservatory, before the erection of the Crystal Palace in 1851, was the most magnificent of its kind. The longest side is two hundred and seventy-six feet, and the shortest one hundred and twenty-three feet. It has a central arched roof sixty-seven feet high, with a span of seventy feet, resting on two rows of elegant iron pillars twenty-eight feet high, which divide the space about equally. The spaces between the ribs are filled in with light glazed framework, containing upwards of seventy thousand square feet of glass.

Woodblock print and accompanying text transcript from Morris's book (see below)[1].
In the collection of, provided by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Morris, Rev. F. O. (1880),"Picturesque Views of Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland", Volume 1. Published in London by William Mackenzie. The drawings for the book were by Alexander F Lydon (1836-1917) and printed, using the "Baxter process", by Benjamin Fawcett (1808-93) of Driffield, Yorkshire. One woodblock was used per colour and oil-based ink achieved the depth of colour.

Also see, elsewhere on this web site:
Chatsworth, Kelly's 1891 Directory.
Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811
The Wolley Manuscripts, Derbyshire for more information about Derbyshire deeds, pedigrees, documents and wills

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More prints from this book:

Drakelowe Hall

Ednaston Lodge

Elvaston Castle

Old Derbyshire Maps:
Chatsworth and Vicinity, 1864