Sotheby's Museum Network

Unveiling Chatsworth House After a 10-Year Restoration

DUKE AND DUTCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE, COURTESY CHATSWORTH HOUSE TRUST

Hidden behind scaffolding for nearly 10 years, the Chatsworth House of Derbyshire, England has returned to its state of splendor, having reopened this spring on March 24. The £32m project is the largest restoration to the historic building since the 1820s, replacing intricate stonework along the façade that had been worn by weather and blackened by industrial pollution throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Specialists also partook in the conservation of 17th century textiles, wood paneling and flooring throughout the 300-room home. First purchased by Bess of Hardwick in 1549 and passed down through the Cavendish family until 1957, the reopening of the Chatsworth manor is not only a joy to the local community and those that have put so much effort into its rehabilitation but also to the 300,000 visitors it attracts each year.

RE-GILDING THE GATES AT CHATSWORTH, COURTESY CHATSWORTH HOUSE TRUST

The celebratory exhibition, Chatsworth Renewed, will run from March until October, honoring those who partook in the restoration process and revealing the many discoveries made during the period of restoration. Due to the intense wear of the building over time, some walls were stripped to their most fundamental frameworks, revealing a lost history of the Chatsworth home. Carved within the planks were memoirs of laborers who once resided in and cared for the premises, including a plank with an inscription by three men that reads:

Chatsworth August 26th, 1841. Parliament met on the 19th The Queen Victoria would not honour the Tories with her presence. The weather is very unfavourable for the harvest. Flour is 3/6 per stone. Joiner’s wages are 24s to 27 per week. Labourer’s wages 12s. Parliament was dissolved this summer on account of the Whigs bringing forward a measure to appeal the present system of the Corn Laws. The election is over. The Tories the majority. Trade is very dull. Many out of employ and starving. This winter will be a severe one. So down with the Tory rascals.

UNDER FLOOR RESTORATION AT CHATSWORTH, COURTESY CHATSWORTH HOUSE TRUST

The exhibition will pay tribute to both the past and present, the hardships of those that came before and the assiduous work that had been put into the most recent restoration. Visitors will be encouraged to interact and sometimes gain hands-on experience with materials including stone, wood, metals and wool.

VIEW OF CHATSWORTH HOUSE, COURTESY CHATSWORTH HOUSE TRUST

The Chatsworth manor is a national treasure protected as a National Trust of England and a member of the Treasure Houses of England, the 10 most magnificent palaces, houses and castles in the country.

The charitable Chatsworth House Trust, established in 1981 by the 11th Duke and Duchess, is dedicated to the preservation of the home, its art collection, garden, woodlands and park through the long-term benefit of the public. This monumental restoration of the Chatsworth home did not rely on any public or government funding and rather was entirely paid for by the entrance fees of 25 million visitors to the property since 1941.

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