Chatsworth's Italian Gardens were laid out by Sir Joseph Paxton
for his patron the sixth Duke of Devonshire.
The two rare photographs, above and below, were taken by the
Matlock Bath photographer William Potter and were printed as
Cartes de Visite. They could have been taken about the same
time as Black's
was writing about the garden. The guide provides a good
description, which could almost have been captions for the
two CDVs shown here:
"Opposite the Orangery is the ITALIAN GARDEN, with
its forest of pillars surmounted by busts, its grand old
Egyptian figures, its Chinese beakers and vases, its sculptured
figures and groups, and its raised parterres, and near
this are the greenhouses, conservatories, and camelia and
orchid houses, with their endless store of beauties."
William Adam (1840) mentions descending from the
Orangery by a flight of steps and added that "Pompey's
pillar, which is of the Egyptian, has withstood the violence
and erosion of nearly nineteen centuries, and yet located
on the sea shore. It is now only slightly effected on the east
In 1880 a Derbyshire newspaper, the Buxton Advertiser,
commented on Chatsworth and its gardens:
"If Chatsworth is delightful indoors, it is none
the less charming out-of-doors, with its terraces and lawns,
its French Garden: a forest of tall columns crowned with
busts and trellised with leaves; its fountains and its
cascades, and its great conservatory, from which the idea
of the Crystal Palace was taken".
When Potter visited Chatsworth and took these pictures most
of the columns were covered with greenery - probably ivy
by the shape of the leaves. It created a slightly curious
effect as some of the busts look as if they are either peering
over a hedge or perhaps are wearing ivy skirts!
There does seem to be some confusion in the various old Guides
and the few newspaper accounts as to whether this part of the
garden was French or Italian. There are antique prints depicting
it as both a French and Italian Garden but the scene is the
same. However, a Rock lithograph shows the Italian Garden designed
by Paxton as being the long garden running in front of the
house. Italian Renaissance gardens were filled with statues,
fountains and water features and Chatsworth is especially famous
for its Great Cascade.
of the Italian Garden, published by Rock & Co. in 1863 is
in V&A's collection.
Chatsworth and its gardens were visited by both English and Russian
Royalty during the nineteenth century and they all planted
trees to mark the occasion.
In 1816 his Imperial Highness Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich
of Russia (1789-1849) and his older brother, who became the
Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855), visited Chatsworth House.
The future Russian Tsar planted an Spanish Chestnut near the
western portico whereas the Grand Duke planted a variegated
Duke Michael re-visited Chatsworth in October 1843.
Princess Victoria, later Queen Victoria, stayed at Chatsworth
with her mother in 1832.
They also both planted trees; Princess Victoria's choice was
a British Oak and her mother opted for an American Chestnut.
The Royal party must have seen a rare plant, Buonapartia
Juntia, that was then in flower at Chatsworth. This was
a rarity as it was only the second time it had flowered since
arriving in England from Chile about 32 years previously.
Queen Victoria returned to Chatsworth in 1843 when she and
Prince Albert were making a tour of the Midlands. The couple
went to the south end of the Italian garden which was
where Victoria's and the Duchess's trees had been planted.
This time it was Prince Albert's turn to do the honours and
he chose a sycamore from a number of trees that had been prepared
for the occasion.
The third image, captioned the French Garden, is from a postcard
published by Sneath of Sheffield. Although
it was posted in 1920, the original picture is likely to have
been taken some years before and probably before the first
Some of the columns had lost their greenery whereas others
were becoming covered. There were other subtle changes. A row
of posts had been put in on one side of the path, perhaps for
fencing. On the edge of the path, but between the double row
of columns on the left, is a litter bin.
"The part of the gardens entered upon from the orangery
is called the French gardens.
They are adorned with lofty columns surmounted with statues" (1879).