(The West Front of Chatsworth House,with its gilded window frames glinting in the sun:

note you can enlarge all the pictures in this post merely by clicking on them)

The time fixed for the beginning of their northern tour was now fast approaching, and a fortnight only was wanting of it, when a letter arrived from Mrs. Gardiner, which at once delayed its commencement and curtailed its extent. Mr. Gardiner would be prevented by business from setting out till a fortnight later in July, and must be in London again within a month; and as that left too short a period for them to go so far, and see so much as they had proposed, or at least to see it with the leisure and comfort they had built on, they were obliged to give up the Lakes, and substitute a more contracted tour, and, according to the present plan, were to go no farther northward than Derbyshire. In that county there was enough to be seen to occupy the chief of their three weeks; and to Mrs. Gardiner it had a peculiarly strong attraction. The town where she had formerly passed some years of her life, and where they were now to spend a few days, was probably as great an object of her curiosity as all the celebrated beauties of Matlock, Chatsworth, Dovedale, or the Peak.

Pride and Prejudice ,Chapter 42.

I will be discussing some of  the history  of the house and of  visiting  Chatsworth during the early 19th century in my post for Laurel Ann of Austenprose’s Group Read of Pride and Prejudice without Zombies on Friday, but recently I made my annual pilgrimage to  the Duke of Devonshire’s Palace of the Peak and  I thought I’d share some of my memories and photographs with you here .

Today we shall look at the exterior and the grounds, and in my next post the sumptuous interiors.

Here to give you some idea of the scale of the house and gardens is a link to Chatsworth at Google Maps:

If you dive into the zoom function you can see all the details of the grounds with astonishing clarity….

This is the South front of the house which overlooks the Canal Pond( excavated in 1702) and the Emperor Fountain

here seen from the windows of a room on the  third floor of the house.

It was designed and engineered by the 6th Duke’s great gardener and inventor , Joseph Paxton(the man who eventually designed the innovative Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition).

The fountain waas built with the thought that  Czar Nicolas of Russia might visit Chatsworth while on a state visit to England in 1844 .Sadly he did not arrive but the fountain was named after him in any event.

It  is on record as having reached the astonishing  height of 260 feet, and is gravity fed from the great reservoirs  created in the hills high above the house and gardens.

I can confirm that the author’s small son loves to be drenched by it on hot days….

The south facade of the house over looks this part of the garden,and fans of the 2005 production of Pride and Prejudice will recognise the steps where Darcy and Elizabeth “met’ at Pemberley.

The garden on the West front is private, but can be viewed from the upper stories of the house. It is laid out in golden box, in the pattern of the floor plan of Chiswick House, Lord Burlington’s magical Palladian villa, once owned by the Cavendish family.

To the east of the house is Thomas Archer’s magical Temple, sitting majestically

a top the Casacde built for the first Duke in 1702-1711. As you can see people are allowed to paddle in it and I confess that on a hot summer’s day dipping my feet into the freezing water is a refreshing delight.

The gardens are full of magical garden features…

serpentine beech walks…

and the Willow Tree Fountain first planted in 1692. Which again is a delight to the author’s son( Note to visitors with children-be advised to bring with you  towels and changes of clothing!)

The house and surrounding scenery, viewed from the higher ground  above the level of  the casade is so beautiful…

The view is , in my very humble opinion, breath taking..one of Capability Browns best designs, maintained wonderfully ever since….

And here is a small video of the house and the cascade, compete with giggling children to give you some idea of the very happy relaxed atmosphere alway to be found in the grounds at this magical estate.

Please do join me next time,when we shall apply to the housekeeper  for a tour of the house….