When I first heard about the upcoming Chatsworth House attic sale at Sotheby's a few weeks ago, my heart skipped a beat. I could only imagine the treasures that would be available for sale. At that time, not many photos were available and I'm very grateful to Sotheby's for sending them so I could share them with you.
As an American, English manor homes will always hold a glamorous allure to me. If you've ever watched Gosford Park, then you have an idea of not just what happens upstairs but the chaos that happens behind the scenes and downstairs. Those days are for the most part over and now the owners open the houses up to paying visitors so they can keep them in the family. When that doesn't quite pay the bills, they are sometimes forced to sell off treasures. Earl Spencer recently had a sale of items from Althorp House to pay for roof repairs. Castle Coole in Ireland was forced to clear it's attics after they were deemed a fire hazard. The most exciting things that most Americans have in their attics are broken Barbie's and old bicycles while the English usually have priceless paintings and antiques.
The Duke of Devonshire is selling off old artifacts and useless objects to clear space in rooms whose doors could barely open and to raise funds. It can cost upwards of £5 million just to keep a stately house and its grounds running per year. Chatsworth House is owned by the Chatsworth House Trust and the family pays rent to live in it.
You have probably already seen Chatsworth and not even known it. The house was the stand in for Pemberly in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice staring Keira Knightly. Ms. Knightly also played Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire in the 2008 film The Duchess which was also shot at Chatsworth where The Duchess actually lived after she married to the Duke of Devonshire. Movie shoots also help to pay the bills on stately manor homes as well.
Not only are there wonderful pieces of furniture, china, books, paintings and jewelry, up for sale at the auction but a car, carriages, and fireplace mantels. Many architectural salvage items from Devonshire House in London that were removed before it was demolished in the 1920's will also be for sale. Some of these were found in the old stable block and hadn't been touched for almost a century including pieces designed by William Kent. While I don't think I can afford much in this sale, I might register just in case. Drinking my tea out of a tea cup from Chatsworth House would definitely be chic! Happy Bidding!