The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire stroll outside Chatsworth

Secrets, surprises and stories at Chatsworth this winter

New Year Talks 2020

Sixteen generations of the Cavendish family have built Chatsworth into the thriving, modern estate it is today and now, in a new series of winter talks, the current Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and others from the great Derbyshire estate are set to reveal some of the secrets of its success.

In its long and celebrated history, Chatsworth has played host to an extraordinary cast of characters from Mary, Queen of Scots to Elizabeth II, John F Kennedy to the Mitford sisters, and Charles Dickens to Evelyn Waugh but these talks also look at the unsung heroes who, for centuries, have kept the great estate running in good order.

Viewers of the recent Channel 4 programme ‘Christmas at Chatsworth House’ will have seen some of the vital work done behind the scenes by the housekeeping, collections and garden teams who conserve the past and safeguard for the future.

All talks are taking place in the Hartington room. While the house, garden and farmyard are closed for the winter (after 6 January 2020 until reopening on 21 March 2020) the stables shop and restaurant are open daily from 10.30am to 4.00pm, while the farmyard and playground are also open during half-term, 15-23 February 2020. Free parking is available at Chatsworth during this time and at the nearby Calton Lees car park.

Secrets & surprises: Behind the scenes tours: Selected dates from 20 January 2020–12 March 2020

Explore behind the scenes this winter while the house is normally closed to visitors as it undergoes its annual ‘deep clean’. These special tours are available Monday through Thursday and change daily depending on the work being completed and are only available to visitors staying at The Cavendish Hotel at Baslow, Devonshire Arms at Beeley, Devonshire Arms at Pilsley, or one of the Chatsworth Estate holiday cottages.

A year in the life of a Chatsworth seamstress: 21 January and 27 February

What does a seamstress at Chatsworth do all day? With miles of fabric to care for, Marie, an expert seamstress on the textiles team, will take you through a ‘typical’ year, highlighting some of the projects she has been involved with over the last five years, from conservation to Christmas, and much more.

Life Stories: An exhibition preview – 7 February 2020

This year’s main exhibition is ‘Life Stories’, which brings to life real people associated with Chatsworth through portraits and objects from the Devonshire Collections. Who they are and why these objects were important to them and to Chatsworth, is explained by the collections and the education teams.

Connecting with nature: 21 February 2020

What does it mean to connect with nature? In 2020, many of the programmes at Chatsworth explore connecting with nature and culture. In this conversation, Lord Burlington, son of the Duke and Duchess, and Gill Hart will be joined by Professor Miles Richardson, who as well as being Head of Psychology and Deputy Head of Life Sciences at the University of Derby, also leads the Nature Connectedness Research Group, to explore the relationships between art and the natural world and why Chatsworth is the ideal setting to do so.

Joseph Paxton at Chatsworth: 28 February 2020

An illustrated talk by Steve Porter, Chatsworth’s Head of Gardens and Landscape, will explore the fascinating history of Joseph Paxton at Chatsworth and the mark he made on the garden including the Great Conservatory.

Garden development: past, present and future: 6 March 2020

Shaped and made famous by legendary garden designers Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and Joseph Paxton, Chatsworth is currently embarked on its latest garden transformation working alongside modern masters Tom Stuart-Smith and Dan Pearson. Steve Porter, Head of Gardens and Landscape, will give an illustrated talk about its history and present developments, from RHS Chelsea in 2015 to Arcadia in 2019/20 and everything in-between.

Contemporary Chatsworth: 13 March 2020

The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire reflect on the contributions to the Devonshire Collections, house and garden from 16 generations of the Cavendish family. They will explore what each of these generations might have regarded as contemporary, the contribution of their parents to their personal tastes, their own new additions to the house and collections, and plans for the future at Chatsworth.

Dressed to impress: 2 April 2020 and 23 June 2020

Join Marie, an expert seamstress from the textiles team, for an insight into how the Devonshires and their servants were ‘dressed to impress’. Begin the morning with a tour of the house to focus on how costume is depicted in a selection of famous portraits that adorn the walls of Chatsworth and then discover some of the fascinating stories behind Chatsworth’s costume collection.

For more information and to book tickets visit

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