6 September 2015

Chatsworth

Chatsworth House - country seat of
The Dukes of Devonshire
Shirley was away in Harrogate for the day - joining hundreds of other women at a British Women's Institute rally to celebrate the organisation's first centenary. Our son Ian had come up from London to attend the wedding of two former school friends. So what could I do?

I decided to jump in the car and head off for the Chatsworth estate with my camera and boots in order to bag a particular geograph square that I had so far missed. I reckoned I could walk round the back of the grand house and maybe get into the gardens from the wooded slope behind it. Little did I know that this is the weekend of The Chatsworth Country Fair.

I parked just beyond a little stone bridge in the village of Baslow which lies a mile north of Chatsworth House. It was only when I reached an old Victorian turnstile that it suddenly clicked that the fair was on. Some ticket sellers in official day-glo jerkins were stopping people and selling tickets.  £23 per adult! Brazenly I just walked past them and nobody called me back.

The sound of gun fire could be heard - echoing around the valley and ahead there were thousands of parked cars. Closer to the house, there was a large village of marquees, trucks and flags - with a helter skelter and big wheel towering above them. Thousands of people were milling around and voices came over the tannoy system about sheepdog competitions and horsey events in the main arena. 

This wasn't what I had come to Chatsworth for.

Behind the house - to the east there is a well-constructed seven foot stone wall with no openings in it. It runs for about a mile. At one point I was surprised to find a tall early nineteenth century chimney that was apparently built in connection with The Grand Conservatory a couple of hundred yards away inside the wall. It was built under the instructions of Joseph Paxton, the brains behind the construction of The Crystal Palace in London.

I didn't want to kill myself climbing over the boundary wall but at last I found a point where there was an intersecting wall and an opportunity to get across safely. Soon I was in the gardens and descending the arboretum to the grotto with its neighbouring pond.
Chatsworth's grotto - and another geograph square captured!
Then I headed for the long oblong canal pond that runs south of the grand house. Temporarily sited at the southern end of the pond is  a bronze sculpture by Yorkshirewoman Barbara Hepworth called "Three Obliques (Walk In)".
Chatsworth seen through the Hepworth bronze

With more photos in the camera, I followed a sign saying "House and Garden Only Visitors Way Out". Soon I found myself near more official country fair ticket sellers in bright orange jerkins. They were dealing with others so once more I walked straight past them as if I was The Duke of Devonshire himself!

The country fair is an odd affair of countrified people in Barbour jackets, tweeds and knee boots. They all seemed to have thoroughbred well-groomed dogs on leads. Many of the tents have a promotional purpose and there are concessions where you can buy "real beef" burgers for £6 or glasses of wine for £5. In the main arena there were packs of bloodhounds and beagles and posh people  in traditional hunting gear.

Something you don't see very often in England was a stall for the sale of rifles and other hunting weapons. The guns were all under lock and key and their sales were being strictly monitored. And there was a stand for the Country Alliance pressure group. Also you could try archery over at the estate's cricket ground. 

It all felt quite alien to me but I was happy to have bagged the geograph square and some more pictures too.
Rabbit Drummer - specially for Mama Thyme
My two country fair pictures do not give an accurate impression of how busy it was. 

21 comments:

  1. Yorkie spectacular photo, especially the photo of Chatsworth through the bronze sculpture. Chatsworth has fascinated me and I would love to visit. Thank you for all these wonderful travels I experience vicariously through your photos and blog.

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    1. You are welcome Madam L! It is nice to know that you appreciate some of ,my blogging efforts. I have visited Chatsworth and its surrounding parklands many times - a fascinating place with many stories.

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  2. I'm glad you did grab your boots and jump into your car...putting the key in the ignition and letting it roll! Another wonderful array of photos...all worthy of an award!

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  3. I have seen many photos of Chatsworth House over the years, but the one through the bronze sculpture is bound to win you another prize ~ or perhaps the Duke will feature it on his Christmas card this year. The people look pretty ordinary to me ~ you sure you felt out of place? Oh and congratulations on another square in your Minesweeper game.

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    1. Thank you Carol. Okay - the people watching the dog leaping look ordinary I guess but in general the show seemed to have attracted the countrified, landowning ruling class.To some degree I felt as if I had landed on Mars.

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  4. Well the the pic through the bronze is really fabulous YP but I'm not sure how I feel about you dodging in and out without paying....what would you have said if challenged? I suspect secretly I'm just jealous..I wouldn't ever have the nerve to do such a thing.

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    1. If challenged I would have said,"Sorry but I'm mentally retarded!"

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  5. Lucky you didn't have to limp home for Shirley to pick a barrelfull of shot out of your ***, sneaking over walls into the Big House and all that! Whatever next?

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    1. Whatever next Senor Brian? I could be Lady Chatterley's lover!

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  6. Oh, Mr. Pudding, you are so sweet to take a picture just for me! I want to visit that park with you some day. But my favorite picture of all is the one you entitled Chatsworth seen through the Hepworth bronze. That is a wonder of photographic color and dimension.

    By the way, my own real live rabbit has been seen on my last four walks down the lane with the dog. As well as a black colored black bear on our trip back home from a wedding in Denver last evening. This is not the one everybody else is seeing. Which is a brown black bear. This one is our own, I think..

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    1. I can't bear it! You have your own bear! Was he bare? How could you bear seeing a bare bear? Unbearable!

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  7. So far, I still have not made it to Chatsworth. "Everybody" keeps telling me I really should go and visit, but it is quite a bit away from Ripon and I suspect would take us ages to get there by public transport. Maybe next year...

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    1. If I am not on holiday myself and you and your sister come to Sheffield station next year, I could pick you up and take you to Chatsworth. As you say, it would be a big challenge to do the whole trip by public transport.

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  8. There is a distinctly circular theme going on in all those photo Mr Pudding.

    Ms Soup

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    1. Ha! Ha! Well spotted Detective Alphie! I hadn't noticed.

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  9. I love how you just marched around like you owned the place. Testament to the fact that as long as you look like you know what you're doing, no one will bother you!

    I love the photo through the Hepworth sculpture. Very cool.

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    1. Well I didn't want to attend the country fair Steve and I felt miffed that public rights of way through Chatsworth Park had been temporarily suspended. You are right - if you send out certain body signals, people will often leave you alone. As you are a great cameraman yourself I appreciate your thumbs up for the Hepworth porthole picture.

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  10. Love Chatsworth and it's beautiful grounds. We've done a bit of walking there and it was all lovely. I admire the way the old duke pulled the family fortunes up out of a huge debt and has the place supporting itself nowadays. I could not imagine having to hand over a place like that to the National Trust, giving away my family heritage

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    1. Yes Helen but you are not a Duchess! ...Mind you come to think of it Tony does look a bit like The Duke (John Wayne)!

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