Last weekend marked the opening of the 2017 Christmas display at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, a day that our house has been looking forward to for quite a while. Every year Chatsworth manage to amaze us with the thought and detail that goes into their Christmas decorations. This year’s theme is “Oh Dickens, It’s Christmas” based around the work of Charles Dickens. We paid a visit to Chatsworth House on the opening day of the display to see how they’d made their theme come to life this year.
Walking toward the entrance you are immediately drawn into the theme by the Dickensian Characters lining the path. For the past few years Chatsworth have run a timed ticket system to help with crowd control, but as Friends of Chatsworth we were able to bypass this system and cut the queue. (Another great reason to buy membership – I wrote a post all about it if you want more details.)
Considering the fact that the theme of the house this year is Charles Dickens, it was hardly surprising that books, words and quotations featured so predominantly in the design. The Entrance Hall was filled with traditional trees and garlands incorporating books and quotations into the design. There was even a sculpture of a man carved entirely out of books.
The Chapel Corridor has been transformed into a Victorian high street, with a row of old-fashioned shop windows including The Old Curiosity shop. I didn’t really get a chance to look properly at all items in the windows, but I guess that’s just one more reason why I have to go back in the future.
The Chapel is always spectacular at the best of times but never more so than when it is decorated with the biggest Christmas tree I have ever seen! The throne of the Ghost of Christmas Present takes centre stage in the middle of the room. If you listen closely, you might even hear him inviting you to “Come in and know me better.”
The muted tones and minimal decorations of The Tale of Two Cities were a stark contrast to the rest of the house and I thought it was refreshing to see an alternative style of Christmas decoration.
The Painted Hall was breathtaking with a number of beautifully decorated trees and garlands. To be honest, it’s probably slightly less decorated than in previous years, but luckily the Painted Hall is truly magnificent and doesn’t require a lot of adornment. It’s a real jewel in the crown that is Chatsworth House.
On a quick side note, it was fabulous to see some of the display cases from the House Style exhibition being have been recycled for the Christmas display. It’s good to see that Chatsworth believe in “Waste not, want not”.
A good portion of the bedrooms have been dedicated to A Christmas Carol, probably my favourite Dickens novel and the obvious one I think of when I think go Christmas. We particularly enjoyed finding Scrooge quaking with fear in his bed.
I was particularly impressed by the use of lighting effects to creates the ghosts. I could have stood for hours watching the lights flit around the portraits, leaving trails of ice where ever they travelled. It was mesmerising and very clever.
Sometimes it’s the littlest details that make the biggest impression. Perhaps my favourite tree in the house was this one in the ante-library, decorated with pocket watches. They’re based on the watch from Little Dorritt, a book that I now feel inspired to read after seeing this display.
Ah, the Veiled Lady. Nothing really much to say here, she’s just extraordinary and I had to include her in this post.
In the state dining room, you might be lucky enough to meet Miss Haversham. Surrounded by the remnants of her elaborate wedding feast, she’ll tell you the sorry tale of her doomed past.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit that the Orangery shop at the end of the Chatsworth House tour is one of my favourite parts. It’s a total treasure trove of beautiful trinkets and fripperies and I just want them ALL. Nowadays, I have to be so incredibly restrained when walking around the shops but that doesn’t mind that I can still have a good look and maybe pick up a little treat or two.
Before the tour, the children had been told to keep their eyes open for little cuddly toy dogs (supposedly Bullseye from Oliver Twist) that were hidden around the house. The girls really enjoyed this and so it came as no surprise that when Mini Mess saw a basket full of Bullseyes in the shop, she desperately wanted to take one home.
Miss Mess chose a vintage fashion sticker book (I’m training her early) and I picked up the latest bauble by one of my favourite designers, Lucy Loveheart. Her designs are really cute and individual and I’m starting to get quite a collection now.
I’ve come to expect great things from Chatsworth over the 10 years that I’ve been visiting for Christmas and I certainly wasn’t disappointed this year. It’s always fascinating to see what new ideas they’ve come up with and I really enjoyed the Dickens/Victorian themes. We’ve already been back again and will no doubt visit a few more times before the display closes in January.
Photos and video couldn’t possibly do justice to the splendour of Chatsworth at Christmas so I would highly recommend you pay a visit for yourself. If you are going to book, can I recommend you visit the Chatsworth website to see all the ticket options available.
During our visit, I did manage to do a teeny bit of blogging. it’s not perfect but it should give you a taste of things to come.