We find out what happens when the world-famous stately home is closed to the public
When the last of the Christmas visitors have disappeared over the hills of the Peak District and all the decorations has been put away for another year, some might think that’s the time when the employees at Chatsworth House can relax.
However, we’ve discovered that is not the case at all.
“It’s incredibly busy because everything is being deep cleaned and checked so it’s an important time of year for us.” says Susie Stokoe, the head of textiles at the UK’s grandest stately home.
Derbyshire Live was given very privileged access to the house on one day during the three months when it is closed to the public between Christmas and the start of the summer season at the end of March.
“Every day there is a timetable of things that need to happen in order for us to get ready to be open, I have lists that grow throughout the season of conservation that gets prioritised.
“But there’s actually not a lot of time when we’re closed so it’s full throttle really,” added Ms Stokoe as we speak in the library of the house.
As part of our visit Ms Stokoe has rolled up the stunningly beautiful carpet which runs almost the full length of the library and we were allowed to walk on the fabric, which dates back to the 1830s, something members of the public can only glance at from the doorway as the library is usually off-limits to visitors.
The historic Axminster Carpet has had a problem in recent years with a few moths attempting to use it as a free lunch, but the work Ms Stokoe and her team are doing is to try and rid the carpet of the moths and preserve it for another 200-years.
Working on a priceless piece of fabric is all in a days work for Ms Stokoe but it’s not something she takes for granted.
She said: “Getting close these objects is a joy, I’m incredibly lucky and very aware of that, in the library we’re doing a long term conservation project of the curtains, it’ll take years but every time you take a pair down and their fragile and they’re broken and they’re really in trouble and you put them back and they’re strong and they’re healthy and they’re good for another 50-years, that is a joy”.
The library, located next to the anti-library and close to the beautiful state dining room, is a phenomenal example of how the 6th Duke of Devonshire used to live, the furnishings and decorations date back to the 1830s and the room is still very much in use by the family to this day with meetings often being held there.
The chance to take our shoes off, we could only stand on the carpet in our socks, and get into somewhere people aren’t usually allowed to go was fantastic and a true privilege.
It was just one example of all the work that goes on behind the scenes at the world-famous stately home ready for the return of the public at the end of March.
See our photo gallery below.