Our journey started at the break of dawn on October 13th with a hurried dash to the train station in Nottingham. We then had the joy of running across a bridge to a different platform at the Leicester train station to catch an unexpected transfer. Though I personally could have done without said dash, it did add some excitement to our travel. Not to mention, it certainly woke us up.
It wasn't a bad journey. I had wonderful company (consisting of Alanna Stanton, Allyna Murray, and Avery Dobbs) and the view out the window was stunning. Each town we passed had a delicate spire of a cathedral reaching up above the rooftops. The countryside in between the villages and towns was a constantly shifting image of rolling green hills, groves of trees just beginning to turn colors, and lazy rivers and ponds glittering in the morning light. However, the scenery that we enjoying watching pass by had nothing on the house that we were heading to.
Chatsworth House is the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. It has also been used in various films including the 2005 adaption of Pride and Prejudice, The Duchess (2008), and The Wolfman (2010). It is one of the most stunning houses I have ever been to, if not the most stunning. Inside, the rooms are a mixture of old styles, like baroque and regency. Many of the ceilings are covered in astounding murals and various forms of art, ranging from ancient Egyptian to modern avant garde, decorate the walls and line the hallways. Part of the second floor hallways are actually galleries home to works of master painters, and in a special, darkened room one of the largest collections of Old Master sketches is showcased for the public. However, the most beautiful and serene part of the house (and my favorite) is the Sculpture Gallery. The hall itself is made of cream marble. The ceiling is cream- painted wood with filigree carvings and trim. Set within this austere architecture are white marble statues. There’s Achilles! And over there, Eve! The only color in the room came from the people passing through and the ornate gold chandelier hanging in the center of the room. It was a room that a person could wander through all day and still not want to leave; however, leave we did.
We wandered up to the stables and took high tea in the restaurant. We giggled our way through a meal of delectable finger sandwiches, brownies, custard, and scones before wandering into the gardens of Chatsworth. With two and a half hours left to wander before the grounds closed, we barely covered half of the grounds. We started at the greenhouses, still a little sluggish after tea. Then as we walked down the length of Chatsworth House, marvelling at its size, we turned our backs on the house to walk uphill to an enormous water feature called The Cascade, a three hundred year old feature with a, for lack of a better term, ornate stone gazebo at the top. After a slippery trek up to the top, the four of us sat in peaceful silence taking in the vista.
We continued our trek through a beautiful rock garden to the maze at the far end of the grounds. Try as we might (along with approximately ten other people), only one person made it to the center of the maze. Granted, we gave up splashing through the puddles and mud after about 15 minutes to wander the garden surrounding the maze. By that time, our time on the ground of Chatsworth was limited and the sun was setting; however, the other girls indulged me and we took a circuitous route back to the House and the exit. Alanna and I wandered down to the far end of the canal pond. For those of you who are Pride and Prejudice fans, the view that we shared was the first view of Pemberley in the 2005 film adaption. It was surreal, to say the least. As we wandered back towards the exit, the sun peeked back out behind the clouds. Gold glinted off the water and the house as we exited the grounds. I plan on returning sometime soon to see the ground covered in snow, and to explore the rest of the grounds we didn’t have the time to see.