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Chatsworth love.

Over the last few weeks I have been lucky enough to visit Chatsworth House 3 (and a half) times. Ok, so it is quite easy for me as I only live twenty minutes away, which makes me very lucky, but it is always worth the trip and it has offered a beautiful backdrop for some amazing things to see this year, demonstrating how versatile it is as a setting for historical and contemporary exhibitions.

Firstly there was "House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth" which was a huge exhibition showcasing garments and accessories and other interesting items, all within the house itself. There was so much to see and it gave you an amazing insight into more of the history of Chatsworth and the lives of the family, whilst walking through the stunning interior of the house, all through their personal items, trinkets and clothes making the history more real.

I loved the chapel room which housed several generations of wedding dresses and another favourite was the Gucci designed dress embroidered with flowers, insects and butterflies, inspired by a book from the Chatsworth library, displayed on a mannequin as good as the dress! (below) When you entered the impressive dining room if felt like you had walked in on a dinner party with designer clad guests, including garments by Vivienne Westwood and Burberry (both from Stella Tennant's collection).

I managed to visit just before the exhibition finished at the end of September but if you missed it, there is an incredible book available to accompany the exhibition and a little article from Vogue here.

Next was a visit to the gardens to see the Sotherby's "Beyond Limits: American Sculpture". I always find it interesting to see sculpture outdoors, especially in what is a large historical setting, with its own traditional, more classical sculptures. The gardens at Chatsworth are on such a huge scale that to walk around to find modern sculptures in metal, perched in between rocks in the rockery, behind manicured hedges or in front of the Emperor Fountain with the backdrop of the house and rolling Derbyshire countryside, is always interesting and unexpected. The beautiful autumn colours and sunshine were an added bonus! The firm favourite with myself and my friends was George Rickey's piece, made up of four brushed metal squares which seemed to be gently rotating in the breeze, making movements that looked like they were never repeated, and kept us all mesmerised!

And finally, my annual trip to the Christmas

Decorations. The theme this year is Dickens, and it is brilliantly festive! The decorations are themed around several of his books including Great Expectations, Oliver Twist and of course A Christmas Carol. The house was a great backdrop helping to take you back in time as you walked around looking at beautifully decorated Dickens themed Christmas trees, Victorian shopfronts and a few new design tricks which were really effective. And the towering bunk bed Christmas tree in Fagin's den was one to remember.

Chatsworth is a magical place any time of year, whether you are walking the vast grounds with a friend (my half visit as we didn't visit the house) or exploring the house and gardens, but it is especially magical at Christmas, it is so worth a visit!

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