As Chatsworth prepares to throw open its doors (the house and garden do not open until 21st March) we take a look at the year ahead for one of our county’s most iconic locations.
‘Life Stories’, a new exhibition celebrating some of the most famous figures to have graced Chatsworth over the centuries, will take centre stage in 2020.
It positions the portraits of Chatsworth icons alongside key personal objects.
Key dates for the 2020 season include…
Chatsworth season opening: 21st March
Chatsworth House, garden, farmyard and adventure playground open for the 2020 season on 21st March.
Over the winter, a marathon deep cleaning of the house is undertaken by the collections team and a handful of specialists to carry out vital conservation work.
Life Stories: 21st March – 4th October
Displaying a myriad of paintings and objects from ceramics, jewellery, and drawings, this new exhibition celebrates the lives of the most famous faces to grace Chatsworth and their legacy on the estate.
Life Stories examines the lives of the Devonshire family members, staff, friends, politicians, and artists through a selection of portraits and the fascinating objects that survived them.
The exhibit features characters such as Chatsworth’s founder – Bess of Hardwick – with her necklace of 1,000 pearls.
Others include cellarman Edmund Marsden with a cask end carved with the Cavendish crest as well as more contemporary figures such as the dancer and actress Adele Astaire, and a bust of the artist Lucian Freud with a set of paints left behind from an unfinished painting in the Sabine bathroom.
Conservation in action
As the 2020 season begins, visitors can take a behind the scenes look at the conservation work around Chatsworth.
Visitors can follow Chatsworth’s textile supervisor in the process of conserving the 7m Axminster carpet, in situ, for the State Drawing Room. The carpet has been in the collection since the 1770s.
Visitors can also see the recently returned tapestry, depicting the ‘Death of Annais’ – a piece inspired by Raphael and dating back to the 1500s.
Tavalozza interactive consoles
New to the Chatsworth route in 2020 will be two interactive consoles that will allow visitors to experience a selection of Chatsworth’s Old Master drawings like never before.
Art lovers can examine the smallest details and discover hidden histories with the opportunity to view works all year round which would have previously been restricted.
Raphael 500th Anniversary
To mark the 500th year since the death of the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael Santi, the Chatsworth team has chosen ten of the artist’s drawings to bring together for the first time in two intimate displays throughout the year.
From March until October, visitors can get up close to the drawings, which show studies of human form and composition for larger works, including for his Transfiguration painting now in the Vatican Museum.
Raphael’s work will also be displayed on the Tavalozza interactive consoles so visitors can experience these exceptional works and discover them in a new light.
Easter: 4th-19th April
‘Eggcelent’ fun this Easter, with so much to see and do across the garden and farmyard throughout the holidays.
Activities include the ever-popular Easter egg hunt running across the bank holiday weekend.
Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials: 15th-17th May
World-class competition, including exciting showjumping, gripping cross-country, and elegant dressage, combined with family-friendly entertainment in the park.
It’s three days of thrilling equestrian action of the highest standard.
RHS Chatsworth Flower Show: 11th-14th June
Making a return for its fourth year, the RHS’s newest show brings together the very best of traditional rural craft and innovative, modern design.
This year will see the return of the Mindfulness Gardens, launched in 2019 to celebrate the benefits of gardening on health and wellbeing.
Featuring stunning show gardens, colourful displays, have-a-go workshops, and delicious food and drink, there will be plenty to see and do – including a long border design from Chatsworth’s own team of garden volunteers.
Chatsworth Country Fair: 4th-6th September
Chatsworth Country Fair hosts a packed programme of grand ring entertainment, a star-studded cookery theatre and fine food village which has earned it a place as one of England’s most spectacular annual outdoor events.
Stunt teams, military bands, and aerobatics displays, as well as the chance to have a go at a myriad of heritage country sports, means there is plenty to do for the whole family.
Halloween: 24th October – 1st November
‘Frighteningly’ good fun once again – with Halloween activities throughout the house, garden and farmyard (for monsters of all ages to enjoy!)
Bonfire and fireworks: 31st October – 1st November
Celebrate bonfire night at one of the county’s biggest and best displays as it returns to Chatsworth for two nights.
Visitors can stand back and watch a show-stopping programme – including the lighting of the bonfire, a children’s firework display and a grand finale firework display.
Christmas at Chatsworth: 7th November – 3rd January
Show-stopping decorations, sparkling lights, and towering fir trees will transform Chatsworth this Christmas.
The theme for this year’s celebration will be announced in September (stay tuned to So Derbyshire for the latest!)
Christmas market: 13th November – 1st December
Where better to start your Christmas shopping than Chatsworth Christmas market?
Soak up the atmosphere as you browse over 100 stalls offering a wide range of artisan Christmas gifts and delicious food and drink.