Visitors to Chatsworth House can soon step back in time to meet key figures from the stately home’s history.
Chatsworth’s legendary garden designer Joseph Paxton will be returning to the Derbyshire estate two centuries on from his groundbreaking work in the 1800s.
The inspirational gardener will joined by Britain’s greatest political philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, who lived at Chatsworth in the 17th century as tutor to both the second and third Earls of Devonshire.
Meanwhile, Mrs Hackett, who was the Head Housekeeper when the regal state rooms were built in the 18th century, will keep visitors entertained with tales from above and below stairs.
The actors, who will be dressed in custom-made, period costumes, have been rehearsing their roles for weeks and to bring to life Chatsworth’s long history.
Hobbes and Mrs Hackett will be entertaining visitors in the house while Paxton will be busy in the 105-acre garden, which includes his rock garden, emperor fountain, pinetum, conservative wall, arbouretum and more.
Paxton will surely marvel at the 1209 yew trees that make up Chatsworth’s mighty Maze, which will host a team in vintage costumes playing traditional games such as croquet and skittles with children and adults alike throughout the summer.
However, he may well be saddened that the maze stands on the site of his Great Conservatory.
Completed in 1840 and 94 metres in length, it fell into disrepair in the early 20th century and was demolished.
Before that, it had been the largest glass building in England before the erection of Paxton’s subsequent marvel, the Crystal Palace, in 1851.
Garden enthusiasts are in for a treat this summer as Chatsworth’s daily, free walking tours examine Paxton’s work but will also honour the tercentenary of its other great gardener Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, who laid the foundations for Paxton’s work a century later.
Visitors keen to explore the garden across its full length and breadth will be able to save their legs this summer with a brand new shuttle service.
The garden is open late until 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays from August 12-27.
n Visit www.chatsworth.org for more information.