British country estates often serve as the epitome of exuberance and time honored tradition whose inhabitants hold a disdain for change. A perfect example is Chatsworth House, which has been the seat of the Duke of Devonshire ever since 1549. Notably, Duchess of Devonshire Deborah Cavendish (1920-2014), was the savior of Chatsworth House, which had fallen on hard times, as she made it her life’s work to transform it from a museum-like relic into a self-sustaining family business.
Chatsworth comprises several villages on 35,000 acres of land in addition to a 300-room palace built in 1551. When it was suggested that she hire a decorator, she refused for two reasons, “The first was that I cannot imagine living with some else’s taste, and the second was that I cannot see the point of paying someone to do something I can do myself.” We are glad she “stuck to her guns”!
Chatsworth House now breathes “fun”. Contemporary art graces the walls, hanging alongside priceless Old Masters paintings and neoclassical structures. We love the Lucian Freud portrait of the late duchess from 1956 that compliments the nearby traditional English library that’s filled with 17,000 books. The melding of taste and time-frame is part of what draws visitors to the palace. The palace is a dynamic, intriguing and exciting place…something often missing within old English country homes!