Friday, 22 September 2017

Chatsworth House Style Exhibition

For the longest time, I've been really interested in History and specifically the first half of the twentieth century. One of the areas of History I'm really interested in reading about is the Mitford family. There were 6 Mitford sisters and a brother. The sisters encompassed practically the entire spectrum of political beliefs during the period leading up to the war and were famous (or infamous) during that period. The youngest Mitford sister, Deborah or Debo, married Lord Andrew Cavendish who became the 11th Duke of Devonshire, the family responsible for Chatsworth. Debo took a very active role in promoting Chatsworth as a visitor attraction and increasing its income so she is inextricably linked to the house. I ADORE visiting Chatsworth and have been at least annually for some years now. When I heard about their latest exhibition, I had to go and see it for myself and it did not disappoint...read on to find out what it is!
Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

Chatsworth House Style Exhibition

The Chatsworth House Style is an ambitious exhibition that has collated historic costumes and outfits from the house's history and displayed them throughout the house in a sensitive but enthralling manner. 

The Chatsworth website says:
"House Style demonstrates the power of fashion and brings to life the captivating individuals from the Cavendish family, including:
  • Bess of Hardwick, one of the most powerful women of the 16th century
  • The 18th century “Empress of Fashion” Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire
  • Adele Astaire, the sister and dance partner of Fred Astaire
Deborah Devonshire and Nancy Mitford, two of the Mitford sisters, model Stella Tennant and John F Kennedy’s sister ‘Kick’ Kennedy will also be central to the show."

The exhibition runs until the 22nd October and you can get extra detail and a sneak peek by watching the videos on the website linked above. I've embedded one of the videos here:

My experience

I already knew I loved the house but the style exhibition added an extra layer of interest for me as a fashion and history addict. The exhibition was sensitively done so as not to distract from the house but to enhance each room. Perspex panels allowed the costumes to be displayed without blocking the view of any of the other wonders of the house.

Royal costumes

The Devonshires have attended coronations of many Kings and Queens through history and lots of their coronation robes were displayed. In fact, Debo had special permission from Queen Elizabeth II to wear an off-the-shoulder gown to her coronation. 

Coronation Robe Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

This is a part of the Order of the Garter costumes and states the motto "Honi soit qui mal y pense (Shame on him who thinks this evil)" 

I loved how it was displayed, hanging from a hand!

Order of the Garter Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

Timeline of Chatsworth House

One of the busiest rooms contained a timeline of the house from the 16th Century with Bess of Hardwick right up to the modern day family and house. All along the timeline was items of clothing, jewellery and other artefacts labelled with anecdotes about the family. 
Chatsworth House Timeline Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

I was really interested in the Georgiana artefacts after watching the film The Duchess. She married the 5th Duke of Devonshire when she was 17 and seemed to rebel from that moment on.

Chatsworth House Timeline Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

Chatsworth House Timeline Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

The WWII section spoke about Billy Hartington who was inline to be the 11th Duke before he was tragically killed in action. He was married to Kick Kennedy, sister of JFK.

Chatsworth House Timeline Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

Chatsworth House Timeline Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

The Circle of Life

The Circle of Life exhibition showed outfits from christening gowns through to mourning clothes. My favourite part in here was the wedding dresses. These were accompanied by photographs from the wedding days wherever possible.

Chatsworth House Wedding Gowns Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

Chatsworth House Wedding Gowns Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

The Devonshire House Ball

In 1897, the family's London house hosted a fancy dress ball said to be the ball of the century. Guests came from all over in elaborate historical fancy dress. The exhibition has enlarged photographs of the guests, made to look ghostly and set in a room which is darkened and atmospheric. In the next room, some of the original costumes are also displayed. 

The Devonshire House Ball Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

The Devonshire House Ball Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

Dressing for Dinner

In the dining room, which was laid out as if for a banquet and enhanced by recordings of murmurs and conversation, was a variety of dinner gowns that ladies of the house have worn to attend dinner. Dressing for dinner happened until very recently, even if the Duke and Duchess were dining alone. 

Dressing for Dinner Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

Dressing for Dinner Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

Chatsworth Shops

Even once you have ogled the amazing outfits on show, there was so much to see. The Chatsworth shops are legendary in my view - gifts and food from the estate galore! I was particularly tickled by the sculpture of Matthew McFayden as Mr Darcy from the Pride and Prejudice film and even more amused by his caption...

Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

Sculpture in the Garden

The gardens at Chatsworth are stunning with so many things to see - mazes, coal tunnels, rockeries...the list goes on! 

Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth
In the gardens, you'll often come across modern sculptures. At the moment, it's Sotheby's Beyond Limits exhibition which is focused on post-war American artists and runs until 12th November. 

My favourite sculpture was this cube, which at first glance, wasn't very exciting. 

Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth
However, I could see people leaning against the walls and seemingly peering in. Closer inspection showed some tiny tiny holes drilled into the sides of the cube. On peering through myself, a magical garden was unveiled! 

Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

Chatsworth House Style Exhibition #lbloggers #history #ChatsworthHouseStyle #Chatsworth

This is the Antithesis of Sarcophogi sculpture by Martin Cook and Gary Breeze. It consists of a forest growing inside a block of granite and the idea evolved from a sculpture that was a memorial to the victims of the Bali bombing. 

It was exhibited at the 2016 RHS Chelsea Flower Show, winning a gold medal. 

All in all, I spent a lovely day exploring Chatsworth and I really do recommend that you visit the Style exhibition - it was just amazing! 

You can find my other travel posts here: Tori's World Travels 

What's your favourite place to visit?

Tori x


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