Chatsworth House and Gardens

Posted: 30 November 2013 in Travel
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I am proud to say I got out of my house and went to see something.  Not that I haven’t wanted to, just have either been lazy or not had the time.  Well I made the time to go this time and I am glad I did.  I’ve been struggling with my course at Uni and one of my best mates suggested some time away.  As I am working on an article about castles, Chatsworthwas suggested for me to check out.  I learned that the person I needed to talk to was usually not there on the weekends, but I was given a name and a number so it was still productive.  Plus seeing the grounds helped me understand exactly why they need to money so badly.

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First off, to get to Chatsworth is simple enough.  You can take either the 214/5 bus or the 218 bus from the Interchange in the Sheffield City Centre.  I caught the 218 in front of Atkinsons on the corner of Fitzwilliam and Charter Row.  I had been heading down to the Sainsbury’s next to Atkinsons to get some lunch to take with me and discovered that the bus would be passing by there in only 20 minutes.  I quickly got my food and waited patiently.  A return ticket is also only £6 and I got a £2 discount on my ticket into Chatsworth.  The bus ride takes just over an hour and the scenery is gorgeous.  It really made me feel like I was home.  The bus drops you off right outside the house.  The picture above was taken on the bus as we crossed an well preserved, ancient stone bridge.

As it is November, there was a defined chill in the air.  The sky was clear and radiant blue.  The crisp air was only slightly tamed when I was standing in the sunlight.  Thankfully there was only the faintest hint of a breeze unlike yesterday with its gales.  I know I keep going on about the air, but it was so clean and fresh.  Chatsworth is pretty much out in the sticks, so the air is untainted by the smells you grow accustomed to in the city.

I began by checking out the gardens. Mainly because I had no idea where to buy the tickets. There are a couple different ticket options.  Option 1 is the Chatsworth Complete Ticket which includes the house, gardens, and farmyard for the day, which also includes a 1/2 price voucher for another visit within a 6 month period and for another Chatsworth Complete Ticket.  This ticket is perfect for small families as the family ticket is good for two adults and up to three children.  If you have one kid, you are better off buying the tickets separately.  There there is the House & Garden ticket.  That’s what I got.  You can also get tickets for the Garden only or the Farmyard & Adventure Playground only.

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With 105 acres to see and 450 years of history to absorb, I began at the Emperor Fountain (1843) and Canal pond (1702).  This was probably one of the two places I spent the longest, mainly because I tucked into the food I’d brought with me (a meal deal smoked ham and egg on a seeded baguette, sachet of apples and grapes, and water).

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I then made my way down the far side of the gardens, up a small ravine with a small stream fed by a Trough waterfall (1997), and found myself at the Grotto pond.  There are quite a few bodies of water on the property: Canal pond, Grotto pond, Morton’s pond, Ring pond, the Cascade, one in Paxton’s rock garden, and I believe another one by the sensory garden.

IMG_4723A short way down the path from the Grotto and Morton’s pond was a staircase called the 100 steps.  Yes, I counted them to be sure that there were actually 100.  There are.  The steps lead down to a maze.  The maze was built over the site of the Great Conservatory in 1962.  It isn’t a huge maze, but it is quite fun to navigate through.  I’m proud to say I made it to the middle.

West of the maze are three notable sites: the Coal hole & tunnel (1830s), Paxton’s rock garden & viewpoint (1842), and the Ring pond.  East of the maze was only some busts made by Angela Conner.  Wasn’t too bothered to see them.

I started with the coal hole.  It is exactly as the name states, a hole where coal was stored.  The tunnel was pretty cool though.  It was not very long and spit me out in the rock garden.

IMG_4739The rock garden was quick interesting.  I had somehow pictured something quite different.  Walking through it somehow makes you feel like you are on another planet.  The stones even look fake, but they are very much real and have been there since the mid-19th century.

I took a quick look at the Ring pond and moved on back up through the rock garden and to the viewpoint.  Never has a clash of scenery looked so beautiful.

I wonder if I would have found the Willow Tree Fountain if I hadn’t been curious where a path went.  The original sculpture was built in the 17th century and has been replaced twice and was restored in 1983.  It is pretty cool.  The thing that takes from the scene is the loud generator behind the bushes by it.

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Emerging from the path with the Willow Tree fountain, I found myself by the Cascade (1696).  It is a set stone steps with water flowing down them from the fountain at the top.  As I walked up the hill to check out the Cascade House (1703), I was surprised to see children walking up the steps.  Now in summer that would be a novel idea, but holy hell kids it is winter.  Although to be honest, I considered doing it as well when I saw them.

IMG_4766Just above the trees behind the Cascade House I saw a waterfall.  Now I love waterfalls.  Sorry for the TMI, but I really needed the toilet by this point, but I had to find the waterfall because I knew I wouldn’t have time to get back there if I wanted to see the house.  So I looked for it.  Go figure it is a structure behind the back wall of the gardens.  I’m sure I could have climbed over the wall and found it, but my bladder was not going to hold for that.

So the last entry into the main house was at 4:30.  It was already starting to get dark as well, so I quickly hurried through the Sensory Garden (2004) (I didn’t smell anything to be honest) pausing only to take a couple photos, one of which was a tangle of vines formed into the shape of a large shoe.  Kinda weird.

IMG_4769The inside of the main house was decorated in the theme of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’  It was very obvious that they had designed this to be a very family centred place.  Many of the rooms had themes with staff dressed up as characters from the story or in winter outfits.  It started out with the entrance and staff adorned like it was WWII.  Then there was a hallway decked out in white, icicles, branches and snow (like you were stepping out of the wardrobe into Narnia).  There was Mister Tumnus’ house, a place for the kids to dress up like the characters, a room with the White Witch’s sleigh, the hall of the White Witch, the Stone Table where Aslan sacrifices himself, and then the final room of the tour was decked out as the throne for the two sons of Adam and the two daughters of Eve.  It was really quite cool.

IMG_4774The rooms that weren’t decorated with the theme were the chapel, the dining room, a small library (with a piano), and a wing filled with modern stuff.  I’ll include a handful of photos at the end.

All in all, it was a delightful place to visit.  It was refreshing to get away from the city and feel rejuvenated in the country.  If your travels find you in the South Yorkshire or Derbyshire area, you should fit this gem into your agenda.  It is especially ideal if you have children and still want to have cultural/historical experience.  I highly recommend the place.

Extra Pictures:

Chapel: IMG_4775

Study (Mr Tumnus’ room): IMG_4778

Hall (White Witch):

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Library (Aslan):

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Dining Room:

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Comments
  1. Awesome pictures. Hehe, It was crearly worth it to leave the house.

    Like

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