Friday, 9 March 2012

Restoration Returns Chatsworth To Its Original Glory - Opens for New Season Sunday March 11 2012

The wraps are off Chatsworth as the £14m Masterplan project to restore the 300-year-old house comes to a close to reveal gleaming stonework, repaired carvings and 24-carat gold gilding in time for the launch of the new season on Sunday March 11 2012.

The culmination of this phase of the continuing Masterplan of conservation and restoration sees the two most visible façades of the house restored to their original glory, following a year-long project to repair and clean the sandstone exterior.

Work took place to reverse the effects of hundreds of years of weather damage and included cleaning more than 2,200 square metres of stonework; restoring 21 two metre high urns on the top of the house; re-pointing the 20 metre high facades with 1¼ tonnes of lime mortar; the re-gilding of 42 windows and the inscription ‘Cavendo Tutus’ with 24-carat gold leaf. 

All the new stone used to repair the house comes from the same quarry that provided the stone to build Chatsworth in the 1820s, when the house was remodelled by the 6th Duke of Devonshire.

Chatsworth’s Head of Special Projects, Sean Doxey, explained why it was vital for the work to take place. “Although the building was in reasonably good condition, it would have started to deteriorate very quickly if we hadn’t stepped in now to repair the worst ravages caused by the weather.”

The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire instigated the Masterplan project following a review of the building’s structure and services to help realise the shared aim of the Devonshire family and Chatsworth House Trust - the independent charity which looks after the house, collection, garden, farmyard and park - to safeguard Chatsworth’s heritage and continue its history of innovation and progress.

The Duke of Devonshire said: “It’s absolutely wonderful to see the house as it must have looked to my ancestors. It has always been a thrilling moment to see the house come into view as you drive across the park and now that view has been made even more magical. With the years of blackened grime now removed from the stone, it looks truly magnificent and I’m delighted that it has been preserved for many future generations of visitors to enjoy.”

Scaffolding started to come down in October 2011: the final pieces will be gone in time to reveal the house in full for the new season starting on March 11 2012. Further work will be taking place over the next few years to clean the East Front, which is visible mainly from the garden.

Seven consultancies have been involved in the Masterplan, including project managers, principal contractors and archaeologists. A team of 12 stonemasons and one carver from north Yorkshire have carried out the stone cleaning and repair over a 56-week period.

The work on the exterior throughout 2011 follows the transformation of the interior in 2010, the most extensive since the alterations of the 6th Duke in 1830s, which allows visitors to see more of the Derbyshire stately home than ever before with new gallery spaces, access to the once private stone courtyard, far fewer stairs and new lift access to all three floors.

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Chatsworth won Gold in the Enjoy England Awards for Excellence 2011 'Large Visitor Attraction' category organised by Visit England, the national tourism body. Chatsworth underwent a rigorous independent assessment before being chosen by a board of tourism industry experts including previous Small Visitor Attraction winner Victoria Emmanuel of the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter and experienced travel journalists Alison Rice and Sally Shalam.

Chatsworth is a member of the Treasure Houses of England, 10 of the most magnificent palaces, stately homes and castles in England.

Chatsworth is only 16 miles from the MI, 10 miles from Chesterfield, and 8 miles north of Matlock, in the heart of Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park and is well served by transport links throughout the UK

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