“Christmas really starts at Chatsworth...a lot of people say to me that Christmas doesn’t start until they have been to see Chatsworth,” said Sally Hogg, head of visitor services.
The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire’s stately home, regarded by many as Derbyshire’s very own palace in wonderland, has been transformed into a magical kingdom in time for the festive season.
Kings and queens, princes and princesses, heroes and villains, cats and mice will greet the 100,000 people expected to visit the county’s jewel in the crown up until December 23.
Matthew Hirst, head of arts and historic collections, said: “Christmas at Chatsworth is all about panto and there are 13 pantos depicted throughout the house.”
The Duchess of Devonshire has worked closely with her staff for several months to ensure that her home is at its sparkling best for the most magical time of the year.
Assistant housekeeper Janet Bitton said: “The Duchess likes to be quite heavily involved. The panto theme was led by the Duchess who is a grandmother and extremely fond of children.”
Pupils from primary schools in Pilsley, Curbar, Baslow, Heath and Grassmoor played a part in Chatsworth’s panto experience by painting panels for the Snow White tableau and making parasols and magic lamps for Aladdin.
In-house textile workers have created a 60ft beanpole made of wire, pipe lagging, foam and crepe paper which is suspended from the dome of the Oak Stairs. Assistant housekeeper Janet, who made 150 leaves for the beanstalk, said: “It was like a triffid in the textile room.”
Many of the displays feature Christmas trees decorated with ornaments pertinent to the pantos. Peter Pan’s tree is festooned with Tinkerbells, crocodiles and clocks and Aladdin’s tree has clothes pegged to the wires of the fairy lights.
Nearly 21,000 baubles shimmer on trees, 7,000 festive bulbs shine in the house and 4,000 fairy lights twinkle around the grounds to welcome in Christmas at Chatsworth.
To view pictures from Chatsworth’s Christmas display visit Chatworth Pictures