It has been a pleasure to visit country houses this Diamond Jubilee Year, for most I have visited have celebrated the Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by creating displays of their own Coronation memorabilia. I visited Chatsworth some weeks ago for my annual treat, and yes, as expected, their displays were the best I saw this season. Chatsworth is, as you are no doubt aware, the Derbyshire home of the Duke of Devonshire, whose family name is Cavendish. And of course, Chatsworth is one of the places Elizabeth Bennet visited with the Gardiners in Pride and Prejudice, and some would contend that it was the model for “Pemberley ( not me,however!) and so it holds a special interest for Janeites .
The West and South façades of the house have now been stunningly restored, and it was simply breathtaking to see it glinting- with all the newly re-gilded windows and stone ornaments on the roof- in the summer sunshine, and to enjoy the refreshing (and very welcome!) spray from the fountains.
In addition to having a display of the clothes worn by the 10th Duchess, the 11th Duke and Duchess and their son,who is now the 12th Duke, at the 1953 Coronation, Chatsworth also put on show the carriage that the 11th Duke his Duchess and their heir used to travel to Westminster Abbey. Their State Chariot, plus liveried footmen, coachman and a phantom horse were on display, to great effect, in the wonderfully large Painted Hall. You might remember this room from the “Pemberley ” scenes in Joe Wright’s production of Pride and Prejudice of 2005, which I discussed some time ago, here.
This is the view of the Chariot display from the top of the stairs seen in the phonograph, above. It is testament to its great size that having a carriage and “horse” set out in the Hall did not make it feel at all crowded.
As, quite unexpectedly, we seem to have been covering the theme of Jane Austen, Livery and Heraldry this year, I thought you might like to see photographs of this display, as they help to reinforce and explain various points that we have discussed before.
Though this Chariot may have been made slightly later than our period, (it came into the Cavendish family upon the marriage of the 8th Duke to the Duchess of Manchester in 1892) you can see, by comparing it to William Felton’s engraving of a Neat Town Chariot, below
and his engraving of an Elegant Chariot
that this version would have been very familiar to Jane Austen. The Devonshire State Chariot is, as we have now come to expect, decorated with many details which would make the identity of its owners easy for those “in the know” to recognise.
The door and side panels are decorated with the Cavendish coat of arms
and with emblems associated with the family…
You can compare the painted example, above, to the example of the newly restored and painted stone version of the Cavendish Arms on the West Front of the House, below:
The side panels of the Chariot were decorated with the Ducal coronet, with its strawberry leaves, and with the Order of the Garter (and its chain), the highest order of chivalry that can be awarded by the monarch in England and Wales. All the Dukes of Devonshire, with the exception of the current Duke, have been recipients of this very important Order .
Around the roof of the Chariot, silver versions of the Cavendish emblem, the coiled snake, can be seen…
The Hammercloth, which you can see below, and which covers the coachman’s seat, is a very extravagant affair and is made up in the colours to be found in the Devonshire family’s coat of arms, that is, their heraldic colours. I must admit that I prefer these to Sir Walter Elliot’s colour scheme:
”He is rear admiral of the white. He was in the Trafalgar action, and has been in the East Indies since; he has been stationed there, I believe, several years.”
”Then I take it for granted,” observed Sir Walter, “that his face is about as orange as the cuffs and capes of my livery.”
Persuasion, Chapter 3
Here is William Felton’s plate showing the different styles of Hammercloths from his Treatise on Carriages,etc (1797)
As you can see, the Devonshire Hammercloth was also adorned with the Ducal coronet and with a version of the Cavendish arms, in silver:
The family’s heraldic colours were also used in the sumptuous interior decoration of the Chariot.
You can clearly see that the status of the family is reinforced at every point: the representations of their arms, emblems and heraldic colours advertise to the world exactly who are its exalted and rich owners:
The heraldic theme is even continued on the horse’s harness and reigns. Only one example was on show- on a ” horse” armature which reminded me of the animated horses in the National Theatre’s production of War Horse!
Made of leather, the harness set is embellished with silver mounts, some which depict the Cavendish arms…
and some the Ducal Coronet:
You will recall that if a family were possessed of the right to bear arms, their servants- the footmen and coachmen-, could, in Jane Austen’ era, wear uniforms made of colours dictated by the heraldic colours used in the family’s coat of arms:
A gentleman may wear garments of any colour his fancy may dictate, but he is not permitted such license with regard to the uniforms of his servants: the colours of these depend entirely on the tinctures upon his Escutcheon. In both, the dominant colour should be the same: the subsidiary colour of the livery ( or, as a tailor would call it, the trimmings- that is, the collar, cuffs lining and buttons) should be the colour of the principal Charge.
(The Handbook of Heraldry etc., (1869, John Cussans, Page 314.)
Do note however, that these liveries were made, IMHO, at a later date than the mid 19th century, as the colour yellow- to represent gold( or more correctly, Or) was used, and that was not thought strictly correct at that time. The colour of the Coachman’s uniform of great-coat and tricorn hat, was derived from the Cavendish family’s heraldic colours: the black hat decorated with silver thread, and his coat made to match the blue of the hammercloth
The footmen’s livery again complied with the rules we have previously learnt: their bicorn hats were decorated with silver thread as were their jackets and waistcoats:
The livery jackets were yellow, but the cuffs, waistcoats and breeches were blue, again to comply with the rules regarding the use of heraldic colours . The silver buttons on the livery were also embossed with the Cavendish arms,not the crest:
Buttons should always be of the dominant metal in the Arms and charged with the master’s Badge- not his crest. The latter belongs exclusively to the bearers of the Arms; servants have no right whatever to them.
(Cussans, as above, page 316)
You might care to note that, because he had admired them on visit to Chatsworth, the 11th Duchess sent a set of these 18th century silver livery buttons to President John F. Kennedy as his inauguration gift .
This rear view shows the step where the footmen stood while they travelled with the family, and also gives a good view of the detail of the back of their liveries. Here is a slightly closer view:
This is, I hope you will agree, a wonderful example of the use of coaches and liveries to make a statement, according to the heraldic rules and regulations.
If you would like to see the clothes worn by the 11th Duke and Duchess ( and their son) at the Coronation, then do go here to my Pinterest Page on the Coronation of Elizabeth II. I won’t continue it here because it has precious little to do with Jane Austen, but you might like to know that the robe worn at the Coronation by Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire was thought originally to have been a set worn by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and they are quite breath-taking and very beautiful.
I shall be writing more about Chatsworth next year…in my celebration of the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Pride and Prejudice and I do hope you will join me.