Chatsworth House set to reopen with busy new season

A new exhibition celebrating some of the most famous figures to have graced Chatsworth over the centuries will take centre stage in the new season at the famed house and gardens.
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Life Stories positions the portraits of Chatsworth icons alongside key personal objects to bring their stories to life and influence our thinking about one of Britain’s most historic estates.

Life Stories, running from March 21 to October 4, features a myriad of paintings and objects from ceramics, jewellery, and drawings.

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.

Spring at Chatsworth, which reopens for its new season on March 21Spring at Chatsworth, which reopens for its new season on March 21
Spring at Chatsworth, which reopens for its new season on March 21

Characters such as Chatsworth’s founder Bess of Hardwick with her necklace of 1,000 pearls, and cellarman Edmund Marsden, with a cask end carved with the Cavendish crest, sit alongside 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.

Alongside Life Stories is a full programme of events, talks and tours.

The house, gardens, farmyard and adventure playground reopen on March 21.

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 on items in the collection, as well as panelling, furniture and textiles, and other features that are difficult to access when the house is open to visitors.

Chatsworth's new exhibition, Life Stories, looks at the lives of iconic figures from the history of the house, telling their story with associated objects from the collectionChatsworth's new exhibition, Life Stories, looks at the lives of iconic figures from the history of the house, telling their story with associated objects from the collection
Chatsworth's new exhibition, Life Stories, looks at the lives of iconic figures from the history of the house, telling their story with associated objects from the collection

As the 2020 season begins, visitors can get a behind-the-scenes look at the conservation work around Chatsworth.

Visitors can follow the textile supervisor in the process of conserving the 7m Axminster carpet for the State Drawing Room in situ, which has been in the collection since the 1770s and see the recently-returned final conserved tapestry, depicting the Death of Annais - a piece inspired by Raphael and dating back to the 1500s.

New to the Chatsworth route in 2020 will be two interactive consoles that will allow visitors to experience a selection of 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.

To mark the 500th year since the death of the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael Santi, Chatsworth has chosen ten of Raphael’s drawings, to bring together for the first time in two intimate displays on all year.

From March until October, visitors to Chatsworth 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.

‘Eggcelent’ fun returns to Chatsworth this Easter with much to see and do across the garden and farmyard throughout the holidays, including the ever-popular Easter egg hunt running during the bank holiday weekend.

Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials run from May 15 to 17.

World-class competition, including exciting showjumping, gripping cross-country, and elegant dressage, combined with family-friendly entertainment in the park at Chatsworth, offering three days of thrilling equestrian action of the highest standard.

The RHS Chatsworth Flower Show takes place from June 11 to 14.

Returning for its fourth year, the RHS’s newest show brings together the very best of traditional rural craft and innovative, modern design to Chatsworth’s parkland.

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 food and drink, there will be plenty to see and do including a long border design from Chatsworth's team of garden volunteers.

Chatsworth Country Fair takes place from September 4-6. The programme includes grand ring entertainment, a star-studded cookery theatre and fine food village.

Stunt teams, military bands and aerobatics displays feature, as well as the chance to have a go at heritage country sports.

Halloween promises frighteningly good fun throughout the house, garden and farmyard for monsters of all ages from October 24 to November 1.

Visitors can also celebrate bonfire night at one of the county’s biggest displays as it returns on October 31 and November 1.

Visitors can watch the lighting of the bonfire, an early evening children’s firework display, and a grand finale firework display.

Christmas at Chatsworth runs from November 7 to January 3. The theme for this year’s celebration will be announced in September.

The Christmas market runs from November 13 to December 1, with more than 100 stalls offering artisan Christmas gifts and food and drink.

The website for the estate is www.chatsworth.org