The dining room was the pièce de résistance of the House Style – Celebrating Five Centuries of Fashion exhibition we saw during our recent visit to Chatsworth whilst staying at the Hunting Tower. Not only was the table beautifully, set, the entire room was staged with manikins clad in sumptuous evening attire. Happy swoon!
Called “Shall We Go Through?” the dining room vignette harkens back to the time of the 11th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, where people dressed very formally for dinner, even when dining alone. You may recall a scene in Downton Abbey where the despicable Barrow has taken a job at a neighbouring estate, and his elderly employers, with nary a guest in sight, insist on very formal service each evening,
The dresses entailed everything from evening gowns with full trains to sparkling cocktail dresses.
The figures were staged around the central dining table set with a full-scale silver centrepiece complete with a reflective, galleried undertray, candelabra and large epergnes.
Before the advent electric light, a lot of candles were necessary to light the room. I think they’ve got that covered with these candelabra!
The colourful cranberry glass repeated down the length of the table was simple but eye-catchingly effective.
The shorter stemmed glasses would work equally well as champagne cups or small compotes for fruit or sorbet. The taller glasses could serve as wine or water glasses.
The gilded, reticulated plates were from two different patterns. One had pink (transferware?) design with swags and flowers and the other had a small central motif. The border colours were green and cobalt. I hesitated to pick one up and look at the back, for fear of immediate removal from the dining room, likely with the assistance of a security guard. And the docents were more knowledgeable about the fashions than the tableware. Rats.
Coloured glass goblets, a boatload of silver and fruit in footed compotes. Just lovely.
Speaking of fashion, one of the gowns was a very effective vehicle for the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire’s insect brooch collection.
Elsewhere in the house, another display featured some of the brooches against a backdrop of rare porcelain. Another blog!
The fabrics featured in the dresses on the little girl manikins were stunning. Such rich colours!
There were dresses with feathers…
Brocade bodices in an Elizabethan style…
And art deco flapper style.
It was an amazing display of haute couture from many periods.
This one was…interesting.
And this one had lots of sparkle!
One last look at the whole table. Hope you’ve enjoyed the tour. What do you think of the fashions? Likes and dislikes?
I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.
Thank you for the tour. It was lovely to see more fashion.
You are most welcome! I still have to post some shots of the 1897 Duchess of Devonshire’s Costume Ball pieces. That room was really dark and very crowded, so getting pictures was rather awkward.
Whoa! Whoa!!!!!!!!!! The clothing AND table fashions are gorgeous! The Baroque styling of the table reminds me of many wedding receptions I designed “back in the day.” Liberal doses of silver and crystal and everything glitzy and glamorous!!! Oh, my goodness! The candelabra! The epergnes! The gorgeous silver compotes!!! Now THIS is a grand table!!! If I were as slender as I used to be and could wear any of these clothes, I’d be going equally bonkers over them! Thank you for sharing this! The very sight of it has totally made my day!
It certainly was wedding worthy, Alycia. There is nothing quite like the grand table! Combined with fashion, it was drool inducing. The house itself is quite splendid, and if it had been my fist time through, I’d have been a bit annoyed at not seeing it in all its glory, as so much was obscured by the exhibition. An embarrassment of riches!
I was thrilled to see your post, and your pictures of Chatsworth. I am a regular viewer of Tablescape Thursday, and I live only one hour from the Chatsworth estate. It is my local country house estate, and one that I visit at least twice a year. I am very much looking forward to my visit to see the Christmas decorations next month, a time when the dining room is usually set in a magnificent way.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I hope you enjoyed your visit to Derbyshire, England.
So glad to “meet” you, Cindy! My Mum hailed from Buxton, and I’ve visited Chatsworth several times. Just love it! We stayed at the Hunting Tower while we were there – another post… I have some more pictures of the Dowager Duchess’ insect brooch collection still to share. Please stay tuned! Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.