How stunning in Chatsworth House at Christmas? Ahead of Channel 4's new show Christmas at Chatsworth House, we take a look at the stunning Derbyshire residence, as well as the property's late, great owner, Deborah Mitford, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, who passed away aged 94 in 2014. Known to her friends as Debo, the Dowager Duchess was the last of the Mitford sisters, who both fascinated, and occasionally scandalised, British society in the 1940s. Deborah was also known as the "housewife duchess", and her noted business acumen made Chatsworth House one of the most successful and profitable stately homes in England.
Deborah moved to the stately home of Chatsworth, set in 35,000 acres of sprawling countryside in the Peak District, after marrying Andrew Cavendish, who became the 11th Duke of Devonshire. She quickly proved to have a shrewd business mind, transforming the house from ruin into a leading tourist attraction – last year Chatsworth attracted more than 600,000 visitors.
The Duchess oversaw the restoration of paintings and furniture to the state rooms. She created a farm shop that sold produce from the estate, as well as seeing the addition of a cafe, restaurant and gift shop, and set about opening up the charming historical house to the public. Today, the 17th century estate contains one of the most important art collections in the country, as well as antique furniture, neoclassical sculptures, books and other artefacts. Chatsworth has been selected as the United Kingdom's favourite country house several times.
The grand county pile in Derbyshire was made famous by being repeatedly used as the setting for Pemberley, Darcy's house in various adaptations of Pride and Prejudice. It was also the residence of Bess of Hardwick, who was portrayed by Hayley Atwell in the 2008 film, The Duchess. Standing on the east bank of the River Derwent, the huge estate looks across to the low hills that divide the Derwent and Wye valleys. Guests can step back in time by visiting the house, wandering the gardens, seeing farm animals and buying local produce from the farm shop, as well as staying in one of the cottages on the expansive grounds.
Home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family, remaining the family's home since 1549.