On Sunday we drove up to the Peak District to Chatsworth House, home of the 10th Duke of Devonshire. I don't think he was home, but plenty of people were visiting. And many of them had brought their dogs, probably because the Duke and Duchess are dog people. I saw lots of dog portraits in their house, and a few photos of their prize winning gun dogs. I even saw a gold collar belonging to one of His Grace's ancestors, the sixth duke.
Chatsworth was built (mainly) in the 17th century, by the then Earl of Devonshire, who'd fallen out of favor with the Catholic James II. But as luck would have it, he supported the right team in the World Cup—err, the battle for the throne of England, which went to The Netherlands—err, William of Orange. As a supporter, the Earl was rewarded with a Dukedom, which is a lot better than a trophy. Then he set to work collecting art and having famous artists, like James Thornhill, paint his digs.
Which is how come future Dukes can charge admission to Chatsworth. There's plenty of baubles there to see, including a nice collection of Delft porcelain. The State Apartments were prepared for a royal visit from King William and Queen Mary which, sadly, never happened.
But of course, the priceless artwork, the ageless antiques, the splendid ceilings were all just a backdrop for the sheep. Hundreds of sheep grazed in a pasture beyond the overflow carpark, unfazed by the humans picking their way through the feces-filled fields. Don't look up, not even to admire the view of the estate, without securing foothold in unstained ground.
A lamb and her mum, gazing at the ducal estate.
Chatsworth is about 150 miles north of London, off the M1. It's open during the summer season, and again during Christmas. There's plenty to do there, in addition to visiting the sheep, so plan to spend several hours. And if you bring a picnic lunch, be sure to bring a blanket.