Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Lady of the Manor

And so last weekend was spent in Ashby de la Zouch, staying with my sister and her family. My sister’s been living there for a good few years but has still never been to Chatsworth House which is just over an hour’s journey away. Her husband, being the typical alpha male type has refused to accompany her (he’s a lovely chap at times) and so it was decided that next time Mum and I came over we would have a girl’s day out.

I’ve been a few times before to the outer grounds and had a good stomp around, but I’d never been inside the house or looked at the private gardens so I was more than a little bit giddy to get going.

I was even more giddy when I opened the curtains and realised that the snow had followed us from Hull and given Leicestershire a little sprinkling.

Rowan the Irish Setter having a frolic.

We were lucky enough to be going during the Christmas celebrations, where the downstairs rooms are bedecked in decorations, this year’s theme being a Russian Christmas (yeah I’ve no idea why either).

The downstairs rooms are beyond anything my tiny little brain can comprehend. ORNATE is the word that springs to mind. And it definitely has to be in capitals, this isn’t just “Oh how ornate”, this is “F**k me, how ORNATE” and everything in sight is painted, carved or whittled in some way. The wealth is staggering.
The ceiling in the chapel

I don’t know if I was the only one but I did feel a little disappointed with being inside the house, there are parts of it closed at the moment I believe for restoration so you don’t really walk round that much and actually, beautiful as the Christmas decorations were, I kind of felt like they got in the way and distracted your attention from what was inside the rooms.

Photo aptly demonstrating the Christmas decorations' getting-in-the-way-ness

We did give the gardens a miss, mainly because they were a) covered in snow and b) we were freakin’ freezing so we opted to take shelter in the cafeteria which was insanely busy but the food – and I’m just talking about the wrapped sandwiches here – was lovely.

The view out of the library, don't you know

After essential gift shop browsing and buying (I can’t help it, I’m sort of more than a little bit obsessed with the Mitford sisters so I had to buy at least one book and then the other one was a signed copy so I had to get that one as well. PS Father Christmas, if you’re listening, I want the Duchess of Devonshire’s new book please thank you.) it was time to make our merry little way back home, on the way spotting stags sheltering beneath trees and deer running through the park and sheep just wandering about all over the place.

It really was unbelievably cold on Saturday and the place was absolutely jammed full of old biddies with their walking sticks, I was just waiting for one of them to go over. In the end it was nearly my Mum that fell and she did the best comedy almost-fall I've ever seen, I seriously nearly wet myself laughing and got run over by a car.

Random photo of icicles. Because you can never have too many of those.

I bloody love this place you know, I want to come back immediately and go tramping through the grounds again and come and visit the gardens in the summer.

And you can totally get married there! It only costs a mere £3,500 then with £60 a head for the catering. Erm....

Excuse me, I’m just off to empty my money box...

Random photo of a stone lion. Just because. Like him? You can get him in bookend form from the gift shop.



This was the view out of our back door this morning....

Check out the chair in the middle, then you can get an idea of how much snow has fallen in the past few days...

I have affectionately christened it Apocalypse 2010.

Not that you'd know any of this was going on. The BBC doesn't really like to report bad weather until it hits London, instead it gets a vague mention - "And in other news, somewhere north of the Watford Gap there's apparently a bit of snow, but now lets talk about something London-centric."



  1. Ashby de la Zouch??!! Home of the Hula Hoop crisp??!! Ace!!

    And what a gorgeous dog! Hey Rowan - hey hey!
    -runs off with amazing dog-

    i think £3500 is totally reasonable for a wedding. Tell everyone to have a big breakfast and you can skip the catering. Just get a really big cake :)

  2. I know what you mean about the BBC - I couldnt believe it this morning when it was all about the snow on the M25!!! And Chatsworth - the Stately home by which I gauge all other Stately homes on. Only Versaille was as good (infact it was better). Chatsworth is brilliant to visit at any time - infact the Stand Wood Walks (round the back and up the big hill) are a real fave of mine. xxxx

  3. Oh I LOVE Chatsworth. We go loads. Went a couple of years ago for their Christmas fair and the decs were stunning - one tree was sheep themed and just too fab for words. A friend went last year though and was quite disappointed so I don't know quite what's going on now.

    I always go mad in the gift shop, esp with the books. I just can't help myself.

    I can recommend Castle Howard for Christmas - it's all very personal to the family that live there and for such a huge place, oddly homey.

  4. Never been there and not really planning on going in that part of the country, but if I do I'll try and remember to visit that place!
    Not exactly sure why I followed the link for weddings?! Such a rip off as well - not that it matters really, since I'm not getting married?!!
    Anyway! Yes, the snow - I want more more mORE!!! There's just not enough to keep me at home, and trains are pissing me off as it is, I could do with a snow day - send some snow down south will you? please?

  5. I always covet those sleeping lions everytime I go to Chatsworth - aren't they wonderful?

    Glad you had an enjoyable time, even though it was freezing and the Xmas decs got in your way slightly :0)

    PS - I want Rowan!

  6. Dear Santa - Can I have a lion please!!!

    Looks like you had a nice day despite the decorations and snow, we're getting a bit fed up of it now up here so you're than welcome to ours if you want to come and collect it ;)

  7. I've always wanted to go to Chatsworth but it's always been too far away. One day though.

  8. 1. Never made it to Chatsworth yet, one day hopefully!

    2. Rowan is georgeous.

    3. Sleeping Lion bookends!! Gimme!

    4. Love the icicles.

    5. Yup our garden looks a bit like that but I fear the snow is moving South ... Nooooooo! I want more half days at work please!

    6. Have you tried Salt & Pepper Pringles? They might just be my new second-favourite flavour!

  9. Isn't Chatsworth lovely! My Dad has done a lot of work there so I know it well (though I don't think he or his team are there in the moment so aren't to blame for the current closed-ness of various rooms!). Snow v. impressive too :D

  10. Chatsworth is lovely isn't it, I went when it was all autumnly and immediately decided I must go back during every single season as I betted it looks amazing during every one! The lions rule too. And I'm very jealous of your snow!


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