PICTURES: Chatsworth House gives Christmas a Dickens twist

Dickensian character Fagin played by Robert Laughlin in the Chapel.
Dickensian character Fagin played by Robert Laughlin in the Chapel.

Visitors to Chatsworth this Christmas will be transported to Victorian England as the stately home celebrates some of Charles Dickens’ best-loved works.

Actors playing Scrooge, Fagin, and Miss Havisham will bring the house to life, along with room guides in period costume, as they roam around in the fog and gaslight of Chatsworth’s grand rooms.

Dickensian character Miss Havisham played by Carole Copeland in the great dining room which is set up to represent the famous scene from Great Expectations.

Dickensian character Miss Havisham played by Carole Copeland in the great dining room which is set up to represent the famous scene from Great Expectations.

Visitors will also be able to join in the fun by choosing from dozens of character costumes created by Chatsworth’s textile team.

Head housekeeper, Janet Bitton, said: “It’s something we have been thinking about doing for quite some time.

“We knew we could do something really good with it as Charles Dickens just conjures up Christmas for a lot of people.

“Some of his work is slightly dark in nature but we have just avoided the gruesome bits!”

Charles Dickens just conjures up Christmas for a lot of people.

Head housekeeper, Janet Bitton

The Christmas season got underway on Saturday, November 11, and Janet said the response so far has been ‘really good’.

“There have been lots of ‘wows’ as people come in through the north entrance hall,” she said.

“We got in excess of 100,000 people through the doors last year so we’re hoping to get something similar or even better this time.”

Planning for the two-month Christmas season at Chatsworth started last year and involves nearly everybody on the estate, including the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.

Dickensian character Fagin helps himself to a bauble, Fagin played by Robert Laughlin.

Dickensian character Fagin helps himself to a bauble, Fagin played by Robert Laughlin.

The team spends countless hours generating ideas, developing themes and creating costumes and sets in readiness for opening day.

More than 50 costumes have been made by Chatsworth’s textiles team, while in-house joiners have built the elaborate sets, dressed with individual props and decorations made by staff from across the estate.

Chatsworth’s Christmas season runs until Sunday, January 7.

For ticket prices and availability, visit www.chatsworth.org/book-tickets or call 01246 565300.

Dickensian characters Miss Havisham and Fagin admire the tree in the Painted Hall.

Dickensian characters Miss Havisham and Fagin admire the tree in the Painted Hall.