Chatsworth House - Interiors - 6th Duke's Rooms

6th Duke's Rooms

The sixth Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish (1790–1858, also known as the Bachelor Duke) conducted many modernisations of Chatsworth House. The most notable being the addition of the North Wing to house his collections of books, minerals and contemporary sculptures.

Chatsworth Country House Parties

The early 19th century saw a rise in popularity of the 'English Country House Party' and so in 1830 the Duke converted rooms on the east side of the house into guest bedrooms. People who were invited to stay at Chatsworth spent their days hunting, riding, reading and playing billiards. In the evening formal dinners would take place followed by music, charades and smoking for the men. Women would return to their bedroom many times during the day to change their outfit. These guest bedrooms at Chatsworth are the most complete set of bedrooms from the period to survive with their original furnishings. There is much eastern influence in the decoration including hand-painted Chinese wallpapers and fabrics which are typical of Regency Taste, which developed during the reign of George IV (1762–1830). People who have stayed at Chatsworth include Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens.

Chatsworth Collections

As well as adapting Chatsworth to allow him to entertain guests the Sixth Duke also created more space for his growing collections. His architect, Sir Jeffry Wyatville (1766–1840) designed the new north wing which now holds the Sculpture Gallery and the old Orangery (now the gift shop). Plans for a symmetrical wing to the South were begun but later abandoned. The Duke also turned four floors of rooms into a single grand staircase, topped by a glass dome, which would lead to his new north wing. Along this staircase hang portraits of the first 11 Dukes and some of their family members. Another main modernisation carried out by the Duke was the transformation of the long gallery, originally created by the First Duke, into a library. He was a great lover of books and purchased entire libraries. The Ante-Library in the adjoining room was originally used by the first Duke as a dining room and then a billiard room before the Sixth Duke used it to house his increasing collection of books. This was just one of the rooms in which the Duke installed a single pane window which he believed to be the 'greatest ornament of modern decoration'. The window in the Ante-Library is the only one to have been preserved. Much of the scientific library of Henry Cavendish (1731–1810) is in this room. This is where the north wing begins. Elsewhere in the house, the sixth Duke created a 'Plunge Bath' using the marble from the first Duke's bathroom and a ballroom which was later turned into a theatre by the eighth Duke.

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