Housekeeping at its most glorious

Chatsworth Georgian Summer
Chatsworth Georgian Summer
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Fancy finding out how the other half live? Step into the world of the aristocracy and be right-royally entertained.

A vast and varied line-up of entertainment has been carefully planned. And it’s all in a good cause; every visitor brings much needed cash to the coffers and for that you receive a welcome almost fit for a king and queen. Or maybe a duke and duchess...

Wentworth Woodhouse

The largest privately-owned house in Europe is finally awaking from its slumber.

After being inaccessible to the public for over 60 years this sleeping giant, which lies in Wentworth village in Rotherham, is finally opening up to the wide world. For the first time, guided tours of the Grade I listed building, the largest private residence in Europe, are being staged.

This is the house featured in the book Black Diamonds and described by Marcus Binney, the chairman of Save Britain’s Heritage, as “one of the most magnificent of all English country houses”.

Wentworth Woodhouse, is actually two houses of different architectural styles. Built by The First Marquess of Rockingham Thomas Watson-Wentworth between 1725 and 1750, the west front of the house is in the baroque style & the east front in the later Palladian style. That frontage, at 615ft long, is twice as wide as Buckingham Palace and is the longest country house façade in Europe. The house includes 365 rooms, over 1,000 windows, five miles of underground passageways and covers an area of over 2.5 acres. Guided tours are being staged in July and August and cost from £10 to £25 for the Fitzwilliam tour of 20 rooms plus the West Front private gardens.

Gardening fans can take a peek into the stableblock at a Flower Power plant sale on Sunday July 14 (admission £2.50). To book call 01226 351161 or 749639 or go to www.wentworthwoodhouse.co.uk

Chatsworth House

It’s 200 years since Jane Austen penned what is perhaps her best-loved novel, Pride and Prejudice.

In celebration, Chatsworth House, believed to be Austen’s inspiration for Mr Darcy’s home Pemberley, will be transformed into a Georgian period piece from July 27 to August 29.

Period-themed events will be taking place with staff in Regency costume - and visitors arriving in period costume will receive two for one entry in the house and garden.

An exhibition in the New Gallery will focus on Chatsworth in the time of Pride and Prejudice and feature Georgian era items and the bust of Mr Darcy from the film starring Keira Knightley and shot at Chatsworth.

Children can join the free family trail and plunder a dressing-up box and adults can stroll through the gardens to view the work of designer Capability Brown and enjoy music sessions al fresco.

The first, a Sing Live event on July 27, will see up to 100 singers performing in the garden dressed in Pride & Prejudice costumes.

On July 30 and 31 Horrible Histories series will be presenting Barmy Britain, a friendly caper through history.

For foodies there’s the Chatsworth Farm Shop Summer Food Fair, July 25-28. A celebration of British food from cheeses to wines, curry paste to coffee, puddings and beer will be available for tasting in the farmshop courtyard.

Advance tickets are now on sale for the Chatsworth Country Fair (August 30-September 1).

The Red Arrows will provide a wonderful finale on Sunday after a weekend packed full of shows, competitions and fun.

Look out for the Dancing Diggers in the grand ring, marvel at the dog agility contests and pop over to meet the star of the hit TV show Great British Bake Off Mary Berry in the Rangemaster Cookery Theatre (Friday only).

Renishaw Hall

See the house made famous by the current ITV series Stately Home Sundays this summer. Now owned and lived in by Alexandra Sitwell, her husband and children, during the open summer season, the historic hall can be visited on a pre-booked tour or on Fridays and on weekends in August.

Tours take in the Red Dining Room and Great Drawing Room, where John Piper artwork and Brussels tapestries reside.

Tickets cost £12 for adults, £11 for concessions, including admission to the Sitwell museum and the Italianate gardens laid out in 1895 by Sir George Sitwell.

Sir Reresby Sitwell optimistically created Renishaw’s vineyard in 1972 and today it is a thriving concern producing wines of merit.

Discover the newly-expanded vineyard, go on a tour with vineyard tenant and Derbyshire winemaker Kieron Atkinson with tasting available. Tours cost £8 and will be happening on July 27 and 28 and August 17 and 18. Book hall tickets on 01246 432 310 or at enquiries@renishaw-hall.co.uk and vineyard tickets by emailing keiron@englishwineproject.co.uk

Brodsworth Hall

It’s the country house where time stands still, but Brodsworth Hall near Doncaster has a host of summer events to draw visitors.

Inside this Victorian mansion almost everything has been left as it was when it was still a family home. Meanwhile the grounds, a collection of grand gardens in miniature, have been restored to their full splendour and feature a vibrant array of seasonal displays.

Play Victorian Garden Games on the lawns, from croquet and quoits to skittles, every Saturday from July 6 to August 3 and August 17 to September 28.

On Sunday, July 7 Brodsworth hosts a classic car display and the first in a succession of summer Sunday afternoon brass concerts at the hall during July, August and September. Music lovers are urged to bring deckchairs and picnics for an afternoon of stirring music by local musicians. Admission costs range from £5.80 to £9,60

Bolsover Castle

Fairies, magic, murderous highwaymen and infamous kings and queens will be roaming Bolsover Castle this summer.

The Little Castle, as it was known by its 17th century creators, the landowner Sir Charles Cavendish and his son William, will host a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream of July 12. Family events during the school holidays at Bolsover include a Heroes and Villains Academy which teaches children how to be a highwayman, take part in a musket drill and plan their own ambush (July 22-26, 11am-4pm). From July 29 to August 2 junior history lessons focus on kings and queens and encourage youngsters to take part in a range of regal activities.

Visit www.english-heritage.org.uk for booking.

Eyam Hall

Visitors can expect new attractions after its management was taken over by the National Trust.

Jenny Aldridge, visitor operations manager at Eyam, said: “We’re excited about being at Eyam. The hall offers a great place to start your visit of Eyam.”

Eyam is a village famous for blocking itself off from the outside world in the 17th century to avoid spreading the plague. Using the hall and gardens, the trust will tell the story of the Wright family, while it hopes the centre, in the former stableyard, offers a visitor hub from which people can explore the village.

The centre has a National Trust shop, craft units and a cafe. The hall and gardens are open to visitors between Wednesday and Sunday, until November, the centre will be open all year round.

For more details call 01433 639565 or email eyam@nationaltrust.org.uk