Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Chatsworth House feels the Downton Abbey effect...

The BBC Documentary about Chatsworth was shown again on Sunday 13 January 2013 and episodes 2 and 3 will be Shown on BBC1 at 3.25pm on Sundays 20 and 27 January 2013.

The three-part series by the BBC followed the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, the Dowager Duchess and colourful characters among the 700 staff. Filmed over the entire 2011 'season', the documentary camera crews were given unprecedented access to the 30,000 acre Peak District estate and the people who live and work in a world visited by many but known to only a few.

Over the three episodes, 'Chatsworth' explores the relationships, dynamics and tensions of modern life in a stately home and across the wider estate, including the garden, farmyard, shops, holiday accommodation, pubs, restaurants and much more.

As one of Britain's favourite attractions Chatsworth draws more than one million visitors each year and the series includes stories from the people who live in the local community, those who work and look after the estate, the businesses that are run on the land and the important role the family and the house play in the area.

Episode 1
Three-part documentary series detailing life of the new aristocracy over Chatsworth's entire 2011 season. For the first time ever, the palace of the peaks, Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, has opened its doors to the cameras for a whole year. It is a unique opportunity to take an in-depth glimpse of life upstairs and downstairs in the 21st century.

The first programme joins the 12th duke and duchess as the house is being prepared to open to the public. It is the busiest time of year for the house staff and everyone has a role to play - even the duke and duchess, as they join the annual litter pick around the estate.

2011 sees the six month probation period of the youngest and very first female head guide, Heather Redmond. Will she win over the 60-strong guide team, some of whom have worked at Chatsworth since before she was born, and get the job for keeps?

Chatsworth's award-winning farm shop is presided over by manager Andre Birkett. Man and boy he has worked for the family, starting in the kitchens of the house. He is now responsible for 120 staff and an annual turnover of over five million pounds. But there are always new challenges for Andre, and it is a first for him as he has to deal with a pair of discarded underpants in the cistern of the farm shop toilets.

As winter turns to spring it is lambing season on the estate's 62 farms, and farm manager Ian Turner, who has 32 years service under his belt, takes us on a tour of the farm, where we get to see first-hand a sheep adopting a rejected lamb.

For four and a half centuries Chatsworth has been owned by one family, and for one year we have been there to bring you an exclusive insight into the real-life Downton Abbey.

Episode 2
This episode follows the duchess at the highlight of her social calendar, Chatsworth International Horse Trials. This year there is extra pressure on the duchess and course designer, Ian Stark, as the event is an official qualifier for the London Olympics, and everything must meet the governing body's exacting standards.

The 2011 season sees the third annual Chatsworth flower festival, Florabundance. But there is a problem blooming in the gardens as the unseasonably warm spring weather is making the tulips flower ahead of schedule, leaving floral designer Jonathan Moseley 5,000 blooms short just days ahead of the grand opening.

Chatsworth is one of the country's leading tourist destinations, which is a source of pride for the duke, duchess and their 700 staff. It is their attention to detail that pays dividends, but there are some serious problems that need ironing out when the public start complaining about the table setting in the grand dining room.

Episode 3
Summer arrives, bringing with it wedding season at Chatsworth, but there is a veil hanging over proceedings and it does not belong to the bride. For the entire 2011 season, the famous south and west wings have been covered in scaffolding as part of a massive renovation; but it could spell disaster for their burgeoning wedding business and the all-important wedding photographs. However, ever-resourceful events manager Kay Rotchford has some Photoshop magic up her sleeve. And after a year of being hidden behind scaffolding, Chatsworth's 14 million pound renovation is finally revealed, and the great old house is ready to face the future.

We meet 23-year-old Lewis Leybourne, up from London and starting to climb the career ladder. He's a newly appointed trainee catering supervisor, but is thrown completely out of his comfort zone when he has to model as Mr Bingley in Chatsworth's very own version of Pride and Prejudice for their 2011 wedding brochure.

A passionate patron of the arts, the duke's taste is brought into question when the visitors take exception to his latest exhibit - a Damien Hirst sculpture of the flailed St Bartholomew currently residing in the Chapel.

And after a year of being hidden behind scaffolding, Chatsworth's 14 million pound renovation is finally revealed, and the great old house is ready to face the future

Genre Documentary
Written by Patrick Uden
Directed by Mark Henderson
Fiona Mellon-Grant
Faye Ryan
Narrated by Max Beesley
Composer(s) Paul Farrer
Country of origin United Kingdom
Language(s) English

Chatsworth House feels the Downton Abbey effect
The fortunes of Britain’s country houses have benefited from the “Downton Abbey effect”, according to the Duke of Devonshire.
By Anita Singh 12 Mar 2011 in The Telegraph /

The popularity of ITV’s Edwardian period drama has reminded the public of the beautiful stately homes in their midst, said the Duke, whose family seat is Chatsworth in Derbyshire.
Launching Chatsworth's new visitor programme, the Duke said: "There has always been a lot of interest in historic houses - you look at the huge success of the National Trust - but Downton Abbey is another reason for people to say, 'Oh, instead of going shopping on Saturday, let's go to Chatsworth'.
"I think that's very much helped by Downton Abbey. It's a brilliant programme in a beautiful house, and people will surely pick up on that."
The television series is filmed at Highclere Castle in Berkshire, home to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. Its dramatisation of the 'upstairs, downstairs' nature of country houses is something that Chatsworth is evoking with a new attraction in which a guide will pose as a lady's maid unpacking her mistress's clothes for a glittering Edwardian house party.
"We're sort of playing that tune a little bit and I'm sure it will be very popular," the Duke explained. "People always love to see the big, grand rooms and the collection but they are also interested to see how it was for people staying there - and perhaps even more interested in the people working there. So we are doing a bit of that.
"The guides who will be dressed up will know a lot about the life of a lady's maid, from what they were paid to what they ate. It's something we don't really connect to except through costume dramas on the television."
The new programme begins tomorrow and runs until December 22. Highlights include a display of the Duke and Duchess's favourite belongings, from a David Hockney painting - Le Parc des Sources, Vichy, 1970 - to a a boxwood rosary made for Henry VIII.
For the first time, visitors to the gardens will be able to visit the greenhouse built by the 11th Duke and the Dowager Duchess, which houses the famous Cavendish banana.
The 12th Duke, known to family and friends as Stoker, inherited the title in 2004. Chatsworth is the most popular attraction in the Peak District, visited by over 700,000 people last year.
Asked to explain the secret of Chatsworth's success, he said: "There are two main reasons. The first is that we have the most wonderful people here who are brilliant at welcoming visitors and going the extra mile to make their visit really special.
"And the second reason is that the house and the garden and the park create a wonderful, peaceful, beautiful landscape where people can come and perhaps forget other things and have a quiet walk around and a sit-down and a cup of tea. The peace and beauty of the place calms them and recharges the batteries a bit.
"This year we have got lots of new things and I hope people will be as excited to come to Chatsworth as they have for years.

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