Chatsworth’s gruesome history unveiled

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THE neatly landscaped gardens of Chatsworth House hardly look the setting for gruesome history.

But curators and archivists have dug out items from Chatsworth’s collection that are eerie and spooky enough to send shivers up even the most hardened of spines.

The Halloween trail, which opens on Saturday, takes in spooky objects in 13 different rooms, starting in the Painted Hall where visitors are greeted by a colossal painting of Julius Caesar being stabbed to death in Rome.

An even stronger stomach is required for the Oak Room - where former Chatsworth librarian Arthur Strong, who died in 1905, is immortalised by a porcelain death mask.

And the State Bedroom contains King George II’s bed, which was given to the Duke of Devonshire after the monarch’s death in 1760.

“That’s creepy enough,” says curator Hannah Obee, “but then you read that the king asked in his will for the sides of his and his wife’s coffins to be removed, so the couple could decompose together and mingle as one as they rotted away.”

The tour also includes The Key of Solomon - a Renaissance book of magic 500 years old.

But the piece de resistance is the report of the post-mortem examination carried out in 1777 on the then Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, Catherine Hoskins.

n Chatsworth’s Halloween activities run until Sunday, October 30. On Saturday, October 29, at 6pm the farmyard will be the stage for a Halloween Hoot and torchlit stroll through a secret gate into Warlock Wood. Tickets are £10.