November 22, 2014

Castles and Palaces of the East Midlands

Bolsover Castle was constructed on a hilltop, once occupied by a medieval fortress built by the Peverel family in the early 12th century. The castle came to the Crown in 1155 when William Peverel the Younger died. It overlooks the village of Bolsover, Derbyshire.

King Henry II spent £116 on Bolsover Castle to increase the garrison to accommodate as many as 20 knights when a group of barons, led by his own sons, revolted against his rule. One of the barons was Prince Richard, later Richard the Lionheart. The property was given by King John to the de Ferrers family in 1216, to secure their support against the rebellion. The castellan refused to hand it over, so after a nearly year long siege the castle was finally taken by the de Ferrers. A few years later the castle returned to the Crown and they repaired some of the damages. The castle as granted to local farmers, but it was gradually neglected and eventually it fell into ruin for nearly three centuries.

The Star Chamber of the Little Castle
In 1553 the manor and castle were purchased by Sir George Talbot, keeper to the exiled Mary Queen of Scots. He sold the castle in 1608 to Sir Charles Cavendish, son of Bess of Hardwick, who owned the Chatsworth estates. He began rebuilding the castle, but his son finished the work, and the result can be seen today; luxurious staterooms, carved fireplaces, richly coloured murals and magnificent paintings. 

The "Little Castle" refers to the tower portion of the castle, completed in 1621. The Riding School with its magnificent timber roof and the Terrace Range (consisting of a great hall, apartments and kitchens) were completed later. The Riding School is among the finest surviving indoor riding schools in England, and is considered a landmark in British equestrianism.

Bolsover Castle was surrendered to Parliamentarian troops when Sir William Cavendish was forced to flee into exile during the Civil War. He returned after the reformation in 1660 and found his castle in a ruinous state. In spite of financial problems, he managed to restore it. His heirs chose to vacate the castle and it remained vacant until 1834, when it was let to the Curate of Bolsover and passed into the Bentinck family, and from 1883 on it remained uninhabited once again. Since the 1940s Bolsover Castle is in the care of English Heritage.

Chatsworth House, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire, is a stately home in Derbyshire. It has been home to the Cavendish family since 1549.

Chatsworth looks across to the low hills that divide the Derwent and Wye valleys from the east bank of the River Derwent. The house is set in expansive parkland and is backed by wooded, rocky hills rising to heather moorland. It contains a unique collection of priceless paintings, furniture, neoclassical sculptures, books and other artefacts. 

Chatsworth was acquired by the Leche family who owned property nearby in the 15th century. They built a house, but in 1549 they sold all their property in the area to Sir William Cavendish, Treasurer of the King's Chamber and the husband of Bess of Hardwick, who had persuaded him to sell his property in Suffolk and settle in her native county. Bess began to build a new Tudor mansion in 1553, in a large quadrangle layout with a large central courtyard. The front entrance was on the west front, embellished with four towers or turrets. The great hall in the medieval tradition was on the east side of the courtyard, where the Painted Hall remains the focus of the house to this day. Her husband died in 1557 before they finished the house. When Bess died in 1608 Chatsworth was passed to her son Henry. His brother William, 1st Earl of Devonshire, purchased the estate for £10,000. 
Few changes were made until the 17th century when the 3rd Earl of Devonshire reconstructed the principal rooms in order to make them more comfortable. The south and east fronts were rebuilt and completed by 1696 for William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire. The design of the south front was revolutionary for an English house, with two main stories supported by a rusticated basement. The facade is dramatic and sculptural. 

The State apartments, a richly appointed Baroque suite of rooms, were created by the 1st Duke in anticipation of a visit by King William III and Queen Mary II, that never occurred. They are accessed from the Painted Hall, decorated with murals showing scenes from the life of Julius Caesar. The Great Chamber is the largest room in the State apartments. 

The west front is very lively with much carved stonework, and the window frames are highlighted with gold leaf, which catches the setting sun. The north front was altered in the 19th century when the 6th Duke of Devonshire built the North Wing, doubling the size of the house. He constructed a gatehouse at this side with three gates, where the central and largest gate led to the North Entrance, now the entrance used by visitors. The south gate leads to the original front door and the current family's private entrance.

The beautiful Painted Hall. 

The State Drawing Room
This sumptuous room is the Great Dining Room, used only for special occasions. It is lined in red silk. It takes a Collections Steward 40 hours to polish the silverwear on the table.  

The 6th Duke, also known as 'the Bachelor Duke', was a passionate traveller, builder, gardener and collector who transformed Chatsworth. In 1811 he inherited the title and eight major estates; among them were Chatsworth and Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, Chiswick House in London and Lismore Castle in Ireland. 

The 1st and 6th Dukes had both inherited an old house, and tried to adapt to the lifestyle of their time without changing the fundamentals of its layout, making Chatsworth's layout unique; full of irregularities and the interiors a collection of different styles. The 6th Duke was sensitive to his family's heritage and would rather add additions than demolish the rooms. For example, the corridors around the edges of the courtyard were enclosed and furnished with a multicoloured marble floor, so that rooms could be easily reached from indoors. He transformed the long gallery, originally created by the 1st Duke, into a library. 

Can you spot the Duke? 
The largest library in the house (which has about 40,000 books) has a secret door that leads to a spiral staircase.
The Duke renamed the Second Withdrawing Room 'the State Music Room' when he brought the violin door here from Devonshire House in London. The door features a very convincing trompe l'oeil of a violin and bow hanging on a silver knob, painted around 1723 by Jan van der Vaart.
People invited to stay at Chatsworth spent their days hunting, riding, reading and playing billiards. In the evening formal dinners would take place followed by music, charades and smoking for the men. Women would return to their bedroom many times during the day to change their outfits. The guest bedrooms at Chatsworth are the most complete set of bedrooms from the period to survive with their original furnishings. 

Social change and taxes began to affect the Devonshires' lifestyle in the 20th century. Over £500,000 of death duties became due when the 8th Duke passed away in 1908, and the estate was already burdened with debt from the 6th Duke's extravagances, the failure of the 7th Duke's business ventures and the long-term depression in British agriculture. The family sold tens of thousands of acres of land, valuable books and a collection of over 1,300 volumes of plays acquired by the 6th Duke, including many Shakespeare manuscripts. Devonshire House in London (located on Piccadilly; the building now occupying the same site houses the ticket office of Green Park underground station) was sold in 1920 and demolished, and much of its contents was moved to Chatsworth. 9 years later they also sold Chiswick House to Brentford Council. 

Nevertheless, the staff at Chatsworth at this time consisted of a butler, under butler, groom of the chambers, valet, three footmen, a housekeeper, the Duchess's maid, 11 housemaids, two sewing women, a cook, two kitchen maids, a vegetable maid, two or three scullery maids, two stillroom maids, a dairy maid, six laundry maids and the Duchess's secretary, and they all lived in the house. Daily staff included the odd man, upholsterer, scullery maid, two scrubbing women, laundry porter, steam boiler man, coal man, two porter's lodge attendants, two night firemen, night porter, two window cleaners, and a team of joiners, plumbers and electricians. There were also grooms, chauffeurs, gamekeepers, a librarian and gardeners.

During World War II the Duke arranged for Chatsworth to be occupied by a Welsh public school for girls, anticipating that schoolgirls would make better tenants than soldiers. The contents of the house were packed away in 11 days and, in September 1939, 300 girls and their teachers moved in for the next six years. The state rooms were turned into dormitories. Obviously the house was not very warm or comfortable for so many people, because condensation from the breath of the sleeping girls caused fungus to grow behind some of the pictures. After the girls' school left in 1945, the only people who slept in the house were two housemaids. The 11th Duke had Chatsworth modernised and renovated before he moved in with his family in 1959.
When the 10th Duke died in 1950, tax was charged at 80% on the whole estate. This time the amount due was £7 million (£209 million as of 2014). His son decided to retain his family's home by selling much of their land and transferring Hardwick Hall to the National Trust. He also sold some major works of art from Chatsworth and lent their Sussex house to a school. The Chatsworth House Trust was created in 1981 with the intention to preserve the house and its setting for the benefit of the public. The cost of running the house and grounds is £4 million a year.

The 11th Duke died in 2004 and was succeeded by his son, the present Duke, Peregrine Cavendish, 12th Duke of Devonshire. The 11th Duke's widow died on 24 September 2014. Up until her death she was very active in promoting the estate and increasing its visitor income. She was responsible for many additions to the gardens and she also wrote seven books about different aspects of Chatsworth and its estate.


Chatsworth is well adapted to allow the family to live privately in their apartments while the house is open to the public. The main family living rooms are on the first floor of the south front. Staircases in the northeast corner of the main block and in a turret in the east front enable them to move about without crossing the public route. The Scots and Leicester bedrooms in the east wing are still used when there is a large house party, which is the reason why they sometimes are available as a separately charged optional extra in the tour of the house. 

Chatsworth's enormous walled garden contains many features from six different centuries and attracts around 300,000 visitors a year. It requires a staff of about 20 full-time gardeners. 

*The name 'Chatsworth' is a corruption of 'Chetel's-worth', meaning 'the Court of Chetel'. Chetel was a man of Norse origin who held lands jointly with a Saxon in three townships, during the reign of Edward the Confessor.  
* From 1570 Mary Queen of Scots was brought, as a prisoner, to Chatsworth several times. The apartment where she was lodged is now known as the Queen of Scots rooms. 
* People who have stayed at Chatsworth include Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens. Victoria first visited Chatsworth at the age of 13, in October 1832. She had her first formal adult dinner, accompanied by her mother, the Duchess of Kent. In 1843 she returned as Queen of England, with her husband Prince Albert. 
* William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire, married Kathleen Kennedy in 1944. She was the sister of John F. Kennedy. Sadly, he was killed in action in Belgium later during that year, and Kathleen, being a misfortunate Kennedy, died in a plane crash in 1948. 
* Chatsworth has been selected as the United Kingdom's favourite country house several times.
* There are over 300 rooms, most of them closed to visitors. 
* Chatsworth has featured in The Duchess (2008) and Pride and Prejudice (2005).

Elvaston Castle is a historic stately home in Elvaston. This Gothic Revival castle and its surrounding parkland is run and owned by Derbyshire County Council as Elvaston Castle Country Park. 

The Shelford Priory held the estate until the 16th century. The Crown sold the priory and its estates in 1538 to Sir Michael Stanhope of Rampton after the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Sir John Stanhope granted the estate to his second son, also Sir John Stanhope (d .1638), High Sheriff of Derbyshire, in 1629.[citation needed]

The manor house was built for Sir John Stanhope in 1633. In the early 19th century the Elizabethan style house was redesigned and extended in a grand Gothic Revival style by James Wyatt for Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl of Harrington. Wyatt died before his designs were completed, however, they were carried out later. The Elizabethan styled south front was remodeled to match the rest of the now Gothic styled castle in 1836. This was the final modification of the castle. 

A landscape gardener was hired in 1830 and he spent the next 20 years working on the gardens. He even brought in trees to try to give some privacy and romantic seclusion for the 4th Earl and his young wife. Following the Earl's death in 1851, his brother opened the gardens to the public. The estate contains over 50 structures; including stables, kennels, a walled garden, a home farm, several cottages, gatelodges, an ice house and a boathouse.

The house was used as a teacher training college during World War II. The college evacuated the house in 1947, after which it remained mostly empty for the next two decades. Unfortunately, Elvaston Castle has been neglected since then and has fallen into disrepair. It was closed to visitors in 1990. 

The estate was sold in 1969 by William Stanhope, 11th Earl of Harrington to Derbyshire County Council. They opened the estate to the public in 1970 and have operated it since then, as Elvaston Castle Country Park. Due to its condition and a lack of funding, the building is not open to the public, and since 2008 has been listed on the Buildings at Risk Register. The County Council estimated the castle and estate requires £6.42 million in 'essential repairs". The park is also threatened with closure. 

Haddon Hall is a lovely medieval manor house on the River Wye in Derbyshire, one of the seats of the Duke of Rutland. It is currently occupied by the brother of the current Duke, Lord Edward Manners and his family and is one of the most unaltered houses to survive from the medieval age.

The origins of the hall date to the 11th century, and the current medieval and Tudor hall includes additions added by successive generations of owners between the 13th and the 17th centuries. William Peverel held the manor of Nether Haddon in 1087. It was acquired by Sir Richard de Vernon by a 13th-century marriage to a Haddon heiress. The daughter and heiress of Sir George Vernon married the second son of the 1st Earl of Rutland, John Manners in 1563. 
Sir George supposedly disapproved of the union, possibly because the Manners were Protestants, and the Vernons were Catholics, or because the second son of an earl had uncertain financial prospects. According to legend, he forbade them from seeing each other. Shielded by the crowd during a ball given at Haddon Hall in 1563, Dorothy slipped away and fled through the gardens, down the stone steps and over a footbridge where John was waiting for her, and they escaped to be married. If it did happen, they soon reconciled with Sir George, as they inherited the estate on his death two years later. The legend resulted in a number of literary and stage works.

Their great-grandson was made 1st Duke of Rutland in 1703 and moved to Belvoir Castle. His heirs used Haddon Hall very little, and it remained as it had been, in its 16th century condition. Its decoration and contents remain largely the same, without Georgian and Victorian additions. In the 1920s, another John Manners, the 9th Duke, realised how important the Hall was and began restoring it. He also created the walled topiary garden.
The banqueting hall with the minstrels' gallery, kitchens and parlour date from 1370 and the Chapel was completed in 1427. The Long Gallery dates from the 16th century. 

Haddon Hall stands on a sloping site, and is structured around two courtyards. As was normal when the hall was built, many of the rooms can only be reached from outside or by passing through other rooms, which made the house inconvenient by later standards.

Haddon Hall has been featured on both film and television, including Jane Eyre (1996), Elizabeth (1998), Pride and Prejudice (2005) and The Other Boleyn Girl (2007). 

Hardwick Hall is an architecturally significant Elizabethan country house, sited on a hilltop between Chesterfield and Mansfield, overlooking the Derbyshire countryside. It is open to the public.

Designed by architect Robert Smythson, this grand house was built between 1590 and 1597 for the formidable Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury, and remained in the ownership of her descendants until the mid-20th century. Hardwick Hall is one of the earliest examples of the English interpretation of the Renaissance style, which came into fashion having slowly spread from Florence. Its arrival in Britain coincided with the period when it was no longer necessary to fortify a domestic dwelling. 
Elizabeth Talbot, "Bess of Hardwick", was the richest woman in England after Queen Elizabeth I, and her house symbolised her wealth and power. Each of her four marriages had brought her more wealth and Hardwick was only one of her houses. 

The windows are exceptionally large and numerous at a time when glass was a luxury. Each of the three main storeys has a higher ceiling than the one below, the ceiling height being indicative of the importance of the rooms' occupants; least noble at the bottom and grandest at the top. A wide, winding stone staircase leads up to the second floor's state rooms.

The Long Gallery at Hardwick is most impressive, with several portraits of Elizabeth hanging on the walls. It is one of the largest long galleries in any English house; it is 51 metres long and 8 metres high. 

Bess was a long-time friend of Elizabeth I, and she was also friends with the Grey sisters, Mary, Katherine, and Jane. After Jane’s execution Bess kept a portrait of her on a table beside her bed. 

Bess and her fourth husband George, the Earl of Shrewsbury, had the uncomfortable task of guarding Mary Queen of Scots for fifteen years during her imprisonment. Mary's presence in their home, as well as the financial costs and political tensions, may have contributed to the rift between Shrewsbury and Bess, which eventually led to the breakup of their marriage. The Countess even spread rumors that her husband Shrewsbury had been in a relationship with Mary.

Bess reached the age of 80, unheard of for the time. After her death in 1608, the house passed to her son William Cavendish, the 1st Earl of Devonshire, whose descendants made Chatsworth their principal seat, while Hardwick became their hunting retreat and secondary home. Few alterations were carried out after its completion, and the antique atmosphere was preserved

When the 10th Duke of Devonshire died in 1950, Hardwick was occupied by Evelyn, the widow of the 9th Duke. Due to the death duties, explained earlier (see the chapter on Chatsworth), they decided to hand the house over to HM Treasury and in 1959 it was transferred to the National Trust. The Dowager Duchess was hostile to the Trust, but remained in occupation of Hardwick Hall until her death in 1960. However, she rarely visited during her final years. 

Hardwick Hall contains a large collection of fine tapestry, furniture and embroideries mostly dating from the late 16th century. Much of the present furniture and other contents are listed in an inventory dating from 1601. Some of the needlework on display in the house incorporates Bess' monogram "ES", which can also be seen carved on stone at the head of the towers. 

The Green Velvet Room, with the early 18th century bed. Late 16th century Flemish tapestries depicting the Abraham story line the walls.
The Old Hall
The extensive grounds also contain Hardwick Old Hall, an earlier house which was used as guest and service accommodation after the new hall was built, until the end of the 18th century. The Old Hall, which was built by Bess's brother James Hardwick, is now a ruin. It is administered by English Heritage, on behalf of the National Trust and is also open to the public. Impressive fragments of schemes of plasterwork can still be seen above the fireplaces in some of the major rooms, though most of the building is unroofed. 

Hardwick Hall was used to film the exterior scenes of Malfoy Manor in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Kedleston Hall is a country house in Kedleston, Derbyshire, and a National Trust property. It is the seat of the Curzon family whose name originates in Notre-Dame-de-Courson in Normandy. The Curzon family have owned the estate at Kedleston since at least 1297, and have lived in a succession of manor houses near to or on the site of the present Hall. 

The present house was commissioned by Sir Nathaniel Curzon, later 1st Baron Scarsdale, in 1759, and designed by two Palladian architects. It contains collections of art, furniture and statuary. Kedleston is also a stunning example of the work of architect Robert Adam,  ho had recently returned from three years study in Italy.

The central, largest block of three contains the state rooms and was intended for use only when there were important guests in the house. The East block was a self-contained country house in its own right, containing the rooms for the family's private use, and the West block contained the kitchens and other domestic rooms and staff accommodation. The centre section of the facade is crowned by a low dome visible only from a distance. The neoclassical interior of the house was designed to be no less impressive (or hideous, in my opinion) than the exterior. 

The marble hall was designed to suggest the open courtyard or atrium of a Roman villa. 
The saloon was designed and completed as a sculpture gallery in 1763 and, like the marble hall, rises the full height of the house, 62 feet to the top of the dome, where it too is sky-lit through a glass oculus.

There are many curiosities displayed in the house, pertaining to Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India at the beginning of the 20th century, including his collection of Far Eastern artifacts. 

Lady Curzon's Delhi Durbah Coronation dress of 1903. It was designed by Worth of Paris and known as the peacock dress for the many precious and semi-precious stones sewn into its fabric. These have now been replaced by imitation stones.
Kedleston Hall provided various facilities during the period 1939–45 including its use as a mustering point and army training camp. 

The gardens and grounds today remain mostly unaltered, since their creation 200 years ago. The Curzon family continue to live at the Hall. 

The Hall was used as a key location for 'The Duchess', the Hollywood blockbuster starring Keira Knightley.