The rain had eased somewhat as we made our way from the Chatsworth Christmas Market into the house itself. We had picked up some clues that the Christmas theme was going to be Fairy Tales, and on our evening visit, saw the courtyard lit up with spooky shadows of Cinderella’s coach,
and a dragon.
Inside the vestibule, the walls were festooned with moss and greenery…
A benign, sleepy looking dragon stretched luxuriantly across the room.
The tall fir tree sported green and red baubles along with more dragons, these ones green.
Clearly, the orange beast has settled in for the season and is enjoying his nap. Smaller versions of him appeared throughout the house.
As we entered the first of the corridors surrounding the interior courtyard, the magic began.
Oh, there is one of the little dragons now!
We turned another corner and it was springtime.
Window frames enclosed vignettes with woodland creatures, including Mrs Tiggywinkle. Oh – and look who’s in the bottom of the frame.
At the end of the corridor, the theme switched to the Shoemaker and the Elves, one of my all-time favourite stories.
A silent depiction of the story was playing on the screen beside the Christmas tree. What have we here? Holes in the soles.
As we entered the Chapel, Cinderella’s coach burst into view.
The elaborate coach was nestled in a base of pumpkins and leaves,
It took a few minutes to register that there was an enormous tree in the corner.
Decorated with little gold versions of the coach.
More greenery and autumn-coloured foliage cascaded down from the top of the panelling.
Leading the eye up, up, toward the painted ceiling.
With all the splendour below, we almost missed it.
A distinctive gold statue of Saint Bartholemew occupied a niche, reminding one that this room is usually used as a Chapel.
Another look Cinderella’s coach and we were on our way.
Next stop, the Princess and the Pea. That’s a LOT of mattresses. How did she feel that pea?
The tree shone against the dark panelling. This room is always difficult to photograph, and the dimmed lights made it even more challenging than usual.
I managed to snag a few pictures of the ornaments. Pea pods, of course!
A nearby glass case contained the famous pea.
The Shoemaker’s Elves display had hinted at what was to come in the next corridor – a cobbler’s bench was tucked into a corner.
With shoe repairs in progress.
All down the corridor were glass cases displaying shoes the Cavendish family had worn over the years.
This one had a very poignant message.
This pair had seen a very happy celebration.
The last pair apparently belonging to the famous Duchess, Georgiana Spencer, wife of the Fifth Duke of Devonshire and portrayed by Keira Knightly in the film Duchess. It’s fascinating to me to see how intertwined the Cavendish (Chatsworth), Spencer (Spencer House & Althorp) and Churchill (Blenheim Palace) families are.
No doubt the massive foot statue in the corridor provided the inspiration for the Shoemaker theme. This area is usually occupied with the family’s collection of ancient statues.
The famous statue of the Veiled Vestal Virgin sat among a display of winter foliage in the Grotto area.
I’m always awestruck at the skill of the sculptor in making the veil look so transparent. How do you do that with marble?
Around the final turn of the courtyard, we went down another corridor hung with black gauzy material and sparkling with lights and stars.
To arrive in the Great Hall.
The ornaments around the fireplace were prosaic. Pine cones, apples, and berries and surprsingly, Duplo blocks.
Delicate glass birds twirled gently in the light.
Up the stairs, looking down into the Great Hall.
Now the decorations turned to green.
We mounted the second set of steps to the next floor.
Rich green hummingbirds greeted us.
Through into the first of the displays in the bedrooms. This was probably my least favourite: Sleeping Beauty depicted through a shadowy film played on the gauze-draped bed. Judging by how quickly people were moving through the room, I think my opinion of it was generally held.
The next one was really charming. “Chim-chimminy” music played softly for the Mary Poppins theme. You can just see her on the parapet of the house showing in the window on the right.
Kites flying around the ceiling.
Such a warm, cozy room!
Back out into the hall, we looked down on an intriguing flock of birds. Now what’s that all about?
Peering over the railing, we saw a giant orange suspended from the wires.
Looking around for clues, I spied this painting. Ah! Got it. Oranges. Not quite sure who the ladies are in the paintings, but likely one of the Duchesses and her two daughters. The house has a large Orangery, which they now use as a gift shop and cafe.
Below the painting was a floral arrangement that continued the theme.
Nearby was a niche with a railing that overlooked the great hall. You can see its counterpart to the left of the top of the staircase in the picture below. Lots more people around now! I was lucky to get that earlier shot with no one on the staircase.
When we worked our way down to see the suspended orange at eye-level, here’s what we saw inside!
Hello there! Who are you?
Looking back up toward the birds holding the orange aloft.
Onto my favourite room in the house – the library.
Just leave me here. Look in every once in a while and bring tea with scones, please. So many places to curl up!
And another dragon.
How many hours do you think it took to festoon all those garlands?
Oh, the ceiling. Happy sigh…
Reluctantly, we turned our feet away from the delights of all those books. In the small room just outside the library door, there are more books and another tree. What’s on this one?
And the Frog Prince.
The Big Bad Wolf.
The Cow Jumping Over The Moon.
Dundee, is that you? That’s exactly how I picture him in his most diabolical moods. Sword outthrust, Musketeer style hat. Puss In Boots!
The very last display was in the Dining Room. It took me a minute or two. Oh, I get it. Arabian Nights.
Hmmm. Never got into that one very much.
But it was a creative display that incorporated the giant dining room table. Saved moving it, I suppose.
Just before we moved through to the sculpture gallery and out into the Orangery Shop, we noticed a display of beautiful Blue John urns. The stone is mined in the area, and it’s commonly thought that the name Blue John is a corruption of the French Bleu Jaune or Blue Yellow. The blue is more purple, I think. Lovely!
There’s a snowman peeking down at us!
The deer antler chandelier was surrounded with baubles and lights.
Elegant decorations in pale blues, white and gold.
I wouldn’t have thought of an eagle as particularly cuddly…
This one reminds me of “SQUIRREL!!!!”
Through the sculpture gallery, we glanced back at the deer antler display. It had been a lovely tour.
We had visited only a fraction of the rooms Chatsworth usually has open to the public, but like Waddesdon, the Christmas tours are confined to a smaller number of rooms, all beautifully presented for Christmas. If you’re interested in seeing more of the house, I’ve done an earlier blog here, and two on previous special displays in the house, Dining Room Fashions and Insect Brooches.
Happy Monday, everyone! Christmas Eve is two weeks today. I spent a good part of yesterday wrapping gifts and would like to finish up today – fingers crossed. Then it’s baking time. Christmas cookies, perhaps some gingerbread. I made an Igloo-shaped pound cake over the weekend for a penguin-themed table I set for the kids on Saturday night. The cake was consumed with enthusiasm, so I hope the pictures turned out. We shall see later in the week.
I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.
Dear Helen, This definitely goes on the bucket list…just below the Trophée en Corse. So much to look at…one wonders how they hung all that greenery without damaging the panels. I was unable to join you, as I was working my way out from under my own decorations. Years ago in a shop in London I saw a beautiful crystal tree. I vowed to make my own. “Ice”-encrusted branches (coated with jagged fragments of glass) are stuffed into a mirrored micro-mosaic vase and hung with icicles, glass ornaments, glittering hummingbirds, antique silver reindeer…illuminated with jewelry-case LED pinpoint lights from below. It takes hours and must be carefully balanced because of its cumulative weight. No gloves are possible–it’s too delicate a dance. Well, this time I put the last icicle on, and in withdrawing my hand and declaring the “best-ever” display, I snagged a branch, and the whole thing slithered into my arms. There I was on a stepladder, holding armfuls of heavy glass, trying to prevent the whole thing from crashing to the floor. I called for OH, who ran in and saved the day. Only lost one old ball and sustained a few small cuts! We propped it back up…better base-work needed next time. Hope your decorating is less drama-laden…lol. Thanks for the beautiful tour.
Oh my goodness, Beatrice! You’ve got a lot of guts, madam. That tree sounds beautiful and incredibly intimidating at the same time. Thank heaven no one was injured. Maybe a heavier base? Or a broader one?
Our decor has an interesting perspective this year. Nothing at puppy level, so trees are naked to the waist. Then there is the Dundee challenge. He’s far more mobile and intrigued by his ability to liberate ornaments with a good swipe. So lots of decorating, and replacing and redecorating. Thwap thwap…Clink clink clink clink. DUNDEE!! Stop that!!
Absolutely spot on! That guy really knows cats. Have you seen the one of the cat waking up the owner?
Boy does that guy know cats! Have you seen the one of him waking up the owner? Hysterical.
How fortunate you were to see Chatsworth at Yuletide. One can only imagine the hours needed to decorate a home so big and so elaborately.
As usual, your skills with a camera capture all the magic and allowed me to feel as if I too was lucky enough to be in attendance. Thank you for this wonderful holiday gift.
Could it be that the orange is in fact a peach? As in Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach? The lady bug inside puts me in mind of that story.
Looking forward to the penguin table with warm regards,
Ah! A peach! That could be the answer. Thank you. It had a rind-like exterior, but perhaps it was difficult to convey fuzz. I recall my kids reading the books, but they were beyond the “read-it-to-me” stage. You’re a genius, Ms Speicher!
You’v definitely given me something new to add to my bucket list. Even your least favorite displays were executed beautifully. Thanks for inviting us to tag along on your enchanting journey. Merry Christmas! CherryKay
Thanks, CherryKay. Definitely worth adding to your list. Merry Christmas to you!
Breathtaking!! I’m awestruck.
Was fabulous to return and revisit this magical place! What a treat!! My Mother would have enjoyed Princess & the Pea, her favorite.
Can’t wait to go back! We had planned to do another Christmas markets tour with friends this past November, but we all know what happened. Soon, we hope!