“Chatsworth” voted one of England’s favorite “country” houses, sits on the most idyllic 1822 acres you can imagine. This English Baroque style/Italianate “country” house has 126 rooms and requires a staff of 500 to maintain it. I have to admit that I had never heard of the house prior to a month ago. Somehow I ended up watching a show on the 12th Duke of Devonshire aka, “Stoker” Cavendish. The interior of the home is everything you would expect i.e., incredible furniture, painted ceilings, magnificent chandeliers, etc. The Chatsworth gardens are breathtaking and the home boasts containing “one of the most important private collections in Britain.”
As usual, the hunt for history on Chatsworth got the better of me (I really don’t have time for this! Why can’t I leave well enough alone?!) and I had to dig deeper. AND, as usual, the seeking led to another story and another story . . . . oh if the walls could talk!
People stories are so intriguing to me, especially historical accounts. They seem to be even more colorful when the stories involve royalty and wealth. You wouldn’t be disappointed by going to the website (chatsworth.org) and reading about the characters that lived at Chatsworth over the centuries . . . but for the sake of YOUR time (It’s far too late for me!) let me share with you a little bit about the Cavendish gal that started it all, Bess of Hardwick.
In 1547, Bess of Hardwick married her second of four husbands, William Cavendish. In 1549 William and Bess bought the Chatsworth estate. She and William had eight children, only 4 of whom survived childhood. William died in 1557, leaving her a widow once again. Each time Bess married, she would marry a fellow more wealthy than the last. By the end of her life she was the wealthiest woman in England, second only to Queen Elizabeth. However, Bess’ life was not worry free and not without scandal. At one point, Bess so angered Queen Elizabeth that the Queen sent her to the Tower (prison) for 7 months in 1561. The stories of Bess and the Queen abound, but the names/titles etc. can get very confusing so I won’t go there. Just suffice it to say, DO NOT make the Queen angry!! Wish I had been a fly on the wall . . . .
Another intriguing scandal includes Bess’ third husband. The very wealthy 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, George Talbot. Apparently he was appointed to be the guardian of Mary, Queen of Scots while she was in confinement by Queen Elizabeth. Mary was sent to several different homes throughout England while confined and at some point was sent by the Queen to Chatsworth (under the supervision of George, of course). At some point, Bess believed that George was more than Mary’s “guardian” and separated from him. (Hmmmm . . can’t imagine why?). Queen Elizabeth required that Bess recount her statement about the Queen of Scots and her affair with George, however, Mary made her own trouble with Queen Elizabeth! Eventually, feeling her throne was threatened by Mary, Queen Elizabeth had the Queen of Scots executed. Did I not warn you!? DO NOT make the Queen angry!
But there is also a fairly recent American tie to Chatsworth House. It involves none other than a member of the Kennedy family. Whether you’re a fan of the Kennedys or not, they certainly have given us much to talk about over the years. JFK’s younger sister, Kathleen Kennedy, nicknamed “Kick”, married William Cavendish, the 10th Duke of Devonshire. This time it was 1944. Sadly, “Billy” died in a battle shortly thereafter. Kathleen could have been the Duchess of Devonshire and resided at Chatsworth, however, she began seeing a married man named Peter Wentworth-Fitzwilliam. And sadly, like many in the Kennedy family, Kathleen died young. She was in an airplane crash in France in 1948, flying with Peter from Paris to the French Riviera. Although she created quite a scandal and alienated her family by seeing a married man, the Cavendish family arranged her funeral and gave her a burial plot.
Oh, if these walls could talk . . .
Many of England’s old country estates fell into ruin here and there over the last several centuries. As you might guess, the upkeep is phenomenally expensive and, of course, war, etc. always plays a role in what takes place with and on behalf of these homes. Today, Chatsworth is cared for by the Chatsworth House Trust and the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement and is occupied by the Duchess and Duke of Devonshire.
Kimberly Pearson has always had a passion for retail and merchandising. From studying retail merchandising as a young woman to practicing a more restrained version as a professional organizer then to home interiors and Redesign in 2005, it’s just a part of her make up.
Today, that passion has taken her to a personal shopping service provided solely to the design trade. As a lifelong Phoenix resident she has a heart for local; primarily local vintage shops. Kimberly works closely with her clients to provide top-notch customer service in their search for special pieces all while promoting a more convenient method to support the local community. Kimberly Pearson if the founder of Brick & Mortar Vintage and can be reached at (602) 460-6277. brickandmortarvintage.com