Thursday, 31 December 2009

Thinking ahead to the Horse Trials

As 2009 draws to an end, planning is well underway for the Chatsworth International Horse Trials on 15/16 May 2010.  The cross country courses have been designed and work on the cross country course building has started.  Arena attractions have been booked, tradestand applications are being received, judges and helpers are being invited, discussions are taking place with sponsors and contractors, and accommodation and stabling are being arranged.  As I walked across the park today imagining how it will look in May everywhere seemed very still as if the landscape is waiting to greet the New Year.


There is much to do over the next few months and in May when the park is full of competitors and spectators it will be difficult to remember the stillness of this December day.


Tissie Reason

Director Chatsworth International Horse Trials


New View Through part 2

We didn't finish the job yesterday, the bonfire from Tuesday was well and truly soaked through after 16 mm of rain overnight, and it took a long time to get it going again.  Eventually we were able to burn up all the rubbish and then we started work on more clearing: mostly 'pig' holly which spreads rapidly by root suckers, horrible stuff to get rid of and it does not even have any berries.  We'll have another session later today but there is much more work to do than we anticipated when we started.  It looks as though it might be dry today which will make a pleasant change............
Stoker Devonshire

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Master Plan Glimpse

I went upstairs to the Sketch Galleries today to see the progress being made in the transformation of these spaces; it is pretty chilly as the heating has been isolated, so I was glad of my scarf and gloves; the carpenters all look very well insulated. The galleries are emerging gradually from their building site stage and you can now begin to get an inkling of the wonderful spaces they will become for displaying key items from the collection . The oak floorboards are partially re-laid (over the maze of new heating and electricity cables and piping) and sanded and you can smell the fresh paint of the huge newly-revealed lantern over the Oak Stairs – an extraordinary sight to see after being concealed for so long. I am pleased to see where we have got to so far – it’s not long till we open again for the 2010 season!

Sarah Montgomery

General Manager

Garden tidy up!

Since closing to the public we have been busy cleaning and putting away signs, benches and other items around the garden that will not be needed until March.  This is primarily to protect them from the winter weather and allow us to decide what repairs, changes and repainting needs to be carried out.   However this de-cluttering of the landscape also returns the garden to the look of a private family garden which obviously does not need way markers and interpretation, this is always foremost in our consideration when planning any signage and we hope to continue to have the most appropriate and useful information available when necessary.

We hope to have all of this completed before the New Year so we can start on many exciting projects and improvements during January and February prior to reopening on the 14th of March


Steve Porter

Assistant Head of Gardens and Domain



Work in the house

Inside the house the Christmas decorations are fast disappearing; whilst this may seem untraditionally hasty there is a good reason for the urgency. As soon as the trees, lights, candles, baubles, ribbons, sleigh, fishing nets and all the other paraphernalia that went into making the house so magical for our Christmas make over have been taken down, the housekeeping staff helped by some of the front of house team, set to work to deep clean the whole of the Christmas visitor route and the longer they have before opening the better as it is a massive task.

Stoker Devonshire

New view through in the garden

Yesterday my wife and I started to cut a new view through from the south west corner of Morton's pond towards the Grotto pond: we removed quite a lot of scrub holly and some branches of yew, and this made a good bonfire, even in the rain.
Later today we will finish the job and I hope that the result will be satisfactory...

Stoker Devonshire

Thursday, 24 December 2009

What a team

As I sit tidying my desk getting to all of those small jobs, that I never seem to get to, my thoughts turn to my team.

We’ve had a lot of very busy days and a few quieter ones.

We’ve had sunny days and got caught in the rain and snow.

We’ve got some things right and a few things wrong, but no matter what the day has brought... my team has been brilliant.

Merry Christmas to all.

Alan Caldwell

Head of Trading

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Look North at Chatsworth

I had my first experience of working with TV this week; we had Look North come on Monday 21st to do a live broadcast in the evening which was really exciting. We had the Stannington choir singing Christmas carols in the Painted Hall, whilst the Duke was being interviewed and it all went really smoothly! It was really interesting to see it happening, and then watch how it was broadcast, so much work goes in to it!

The atmosphere at Chatsworth this week has been lovely, the snow has made the house look even prettier and we have had children in the garden making snowmen – a great way to end the season!


Lynsey Coombs

PR and Communications Co-ordinator

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Chatsworth stars on Flickr

Every year, hundreds of wonderful photos of Chatsworth are taken by visitors, and many of the good ones appear on Flickr. Modern sculpture in the garden, water and snow, and Christmas decorations seem to be the most popular topics. There is an unofficial Chatsworth group pool, and another pool that we have set up, inviting people to post their images, which we then sometimes feature on our website. This is a current favourite, of the west front on a golden evening, taken by 'Kev747', who has taken many other great shots http://www.flickr.com/photos/kev747/3133963238/in/pool-chatsworthphotos
Simon Seligman


As it was such a beautiful snowy day I went for a walk in my lunch break, taking my camera with me. I took the opportunity to snap the scaffolding being dismantled on the bastion wall revealing the newly cleaned stonework and one of the conserved sphinx statues by Cibber. It was bitterly cold but the house looked stunning in the brilliant sunshine and snow. I hope the scaffolders had thick gloves and woolly hats!


Diane Naylor

Photo Librarian

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Wolfman trailer now showing - Chatsworth has a dome

Fun to see the trailer for the new Wolfman movie showing in UK cinemas now; they filmed exteriors here, with a huge crew, in February 2007, and made the house look like a semi-ruin, but clever CGI work has also now given us a dome, and made the place look a good deal spookier. Interesting to see if the horror film audiences will want to come and see the ancestral home of the characters played by Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VS02xaTIdRI

Simon Seligman, Chatsworth

Just 88 days until we open for a new season - the countdown begins!

We've still got a week of our Christmas season to complete, with plenty more visitors to welcome, but already I can feel many minds turning to what stands today as our 88 day deadline - on 14th March 2010 we will open for a new season, with more radical changes to the visitor experience in the house than have been seen for decades, and the deadline feels very tight! This week, we have had staff tours of the building work, and even the room guides, who know the house and its contents well, have been blown away by the scale of the work, and the range of new displays being planned. Something like 60 people are working every day on the masterplan, from stone carvers and electricians, to textile seamstresses and plasterers, all striving to complete the necessary work in time. The range of skills is dazzling, and meetings range from choosing the angle of a dog's ears on a re-carved stone sword handle, to the routing of a cable for the new lift. Although there is a huge amount still to do, scaffolding is coming down in some places; in the garden, the restored stone sphinxes are emerging from under their protective roofs.

On top of the building work, the collections team mentioned the other day that there is more furniture and art away in conservation studios around the country, than ever before, all to ensure that the works of art are fit for future decades of visitor enjoyment. They will slowly re-appear at Chatsworth in the new year, and wait expectantly to take up their positions in the new galleries and restored rooms. And to make sure visitors enjoy what they see, there is the new guidebook, mini-guide, audio-visual tour, signage, room cards, guides training, story-telling practice and school tours and materials to work on and complete.

Other colleagues and I will keep updating the blog with news from the masterplan, as we race to beat the clock and present this 'new' Chatsworth to our visitors in 3 short months' time.