This post was most recently updated on March 15th, 2019
6th Duke Of Devonshire
The 6th Duke, perhaps recoiling from the type of domestic unrest he must have witnessed as a child, preferred to stay single and dedicated his time and energy to transforming Chatsworth House.
Known as the ‘Bachelor Duke’, the 6th Duke enlisted Sir Jeffry Wyatville to realise his dream of making Chatsworth House a worthy setting for the world-class collection of paintings, sculptures and antiques it contained.
In the 1830s Wyatville made huge alterations to Chatsworth including creating a new wing with a state dining room, Dome Room and, its crowning glory, a purpose-built, skylit sculpture gallery.
One of the last to be built in an English country house, the sculpture gallery at Chatsworth contains works by Canova, Thorwalden and their Roman contemporaries that show the Bachelor Duke to be “one of the most sensitive connoisseurs as well as one of the most opulent collectors of his day.” (4)
In 1812 the 6th Duke acquired the entire library of the Bishop of Ely and made purchases at the famous Roxburghe auction. A space was needed to house these treasures and the many others in his posession and so between 1815 and 1830 the 6th Duke had the 1st Duke’s Long Gallery transformed into a library.
With Crace & Co designed carpet, curtains and upholstery, the library is a welcoming space with books lining every wall and today contains some of the rarest volumes in any country house. Like other country house libraries of the time, the library at Chatsworth House features job-doors covered with false book-backs that lead to secret passageways.
The Dining Room is also the work of the 6th Duke and was designed by Wyatville around 1830 and completed in 1832. Designed in a Neoclassical style with a high, curved roof, the 6th Duke described the space as “Like Dining in a great trunk, and you expect the lid to open,” according to Harold Macmillan, adding that it “Answers perfectly, never feeling over large.” (5) The very first dinner given in the Dining Room at Chatsworth was in honour of thirteen year-old Princess and future-Queen, Victoria.