Inside Gardener’s Cottage on the Chatsworth Estate

PUBLISHED: 13:05 13 October 2014 | UPDATED: 20:13 23 October 2015

Gardener's Cottage

Gardener's Cottage

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A tour of the latest addition to Chatsworth’s impressive portfolio of self-catering cottages

The elegant but cosy Dining Room combines Regency charm with modern comfort (food not included!)The elegant but cosy Dining Room combines Regency charm with modern comfort (food not included!)

Many people driving through the estate will have noticed and may have wondered about the distinctive four-square stone cottage set back from the road and rather mysteriously isolated from the village of Edensor and separated from the parkland by its own sandstone wall. Newly re-named Gardener’s Cottage in honour of its previous resident, it has now been lovingly restored and added to Chatsworth’s portfolio of self-catering holiday properties.

Why the cottage is here at all is something of a mystery. Various reasons have been advanced for why it was saved when the village was moved in 1839. The 6th Duke may have decided to save the tenant from the upset of moving, while another theory suggests that the elderly resident refused to be relocated and lived longer than anticipated, so it was decided to leave the cottage where it stood. After all it isn’t visible from Chatsworth. Or, as recent research by Lindsey Porter suggests, did its occupant have typhoid, causing the cottage to be left in splendid isolation? Whatever the reason, it has all the convenience of being close to the road through the Estate and the village of Edensor, and yet it is self-contained behind its neat encircling stone wall surrounded by parkland, and approaching on its private lane you can feel you have escaped into your own rural idyll.

The well-equipped kitchen combines style and convenienceThe well-equipped kitchen combines style and convenience

Gardener’s Cottage is the 24th property on the Chatsworth Estate to be made available for short-term holiday rental and the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire are delighted with this latest refurbishment, in which the Duchess has taken an active interest. Combining historic atmosphere with modern comfort is not easy, but this is the seemingly effortless achievement of this latest impressive renovation project. The Duchess has visited salerooms and raided the attics at Chatsworth for the perfect items to give the right period atmosphere. Just as the charming Swiss Cottage has a fairytale atmosphere and the Russian Cottage – designed after a model of a Russian farmhouse sent to the 6th Duke by the brother of Tsar Nicholas – has kept true to its name, so too a unique theme lies behind this refurbishment. Chatsworth’s links with Pemberley from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, filmed at Chatsworth, have been the inspiration here. As the Duke commented, ‘We did consider calling it Pemberley Lodge but thought that would be too much, so we decided on Gardener’s Cottage, which is what it was.’

Arriving on a glorious summer’s day it’s easy to imagine taking tea on the front lawn, shielded by the surrounding trees and white roses, while once inside the spirit of the era has been perfectly captured. Moving from room to room, it’s hard not to keep repeating ‘how lovely’ at every turn.

Sitting room with open fireSitting room with open fire

The new kitchen has been created from the former garage. Compact yet light, with unpainted full-height stone walls, exposed floorboards and white wooden units, it is perfectly in keeping with the style of the cottage while promising every modern convenience and gadget you could possibly need (a separate utility room with thrawl as well as freezer and washer/dryer is located towards the back of the cottage). To one side is an efficient vertical radiator with clip-on drying rails for tea towels while facing you is a lovely oak dresser; a butcher’s block and butler’s sink are offset by fitted oven, dishwasher and microwave.

Move into the dining room and the Jane Austen theme really strikes home. Period paint colour, carefully chosen patterned textiles and polished floorboards with an Oriental rug combine Regency charm with modern comfort. An elegant dining table with Regency-stripe chairs is centre stage while a sideboard, table lamps and period portraits allow you to hope that Mr Darcy might step through the door at any moment.

One of the charming bedroomsOne of the charming bedrooms

In the sitting room there are cosy sofas, a window seat, more side tables with interesting knick-knacks and plenty of books to read. Despite the fact that it’s a lovely summer’s day, it’s almost too tempting to call for toast and tea and settle down by the open fire! Of course, logs are provided, as well as Wi-Fi internet access!

Through to the back of the house, the old kitchen has been converted into the first of three bedrooms (the cottage sleeps six). Again it has been elegantly furnished with ample wardrobe space and the sort of bed you long to sink into. A French door gives access to the garden while another door leads down to a beautiful bathroom with marble fittings and central roll-top bath. This has been created from an underground store room whose existence was unknown until work began on the property early this year. It was also, according to works manager Malcolm Hulland, the most challenging aspect of the renovation.

Upstairs the first bedroom is light and bright with patterned wallpaper, comfortable carpet, antique furniture and a beautiful four-poster whose drapes are evidence of the skill of Chatsworth’s textile team. This too has a unique and modern en suite – in keeping with the period feel but in no way bound by it.

A separate door on the landing leading through to the final bedroom and a separate bathroom gives extra privacy. This bedroom has two large single beds and a lovely writing table in the corner by the window (in case you feel inspired to write enthusiastically home or to start your own novel), while the large airy bathroom has another roll-top bath and a state-of-the-art shower cabinet set in a wall length range of fitted cupboards.

The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire obviously gain enormous pleasure from working on the cottages, encouraging visitors to experience and enjoy Derbyshire and the Peak District at its best. They mentioned another two conversions currently underway. This time they are barns and a more modern theme will be used. The Duke said, ‘It will be good to have something completely contemporary as a different dimension. Actually they will be in keeping with our own taste. I am sure there are plenty of people who would like to try something new and very modern. I think the Gardener’s Cottage conversion has been done beautifully but it will be really exciting to do something brand new.’

There have been plenty of enquiries about staying in the cottage already – particularly from abroad after a visit from an American TV channel – but the Duke and Duchess were the first people to stay here. The Duchess commented, ‘We stayed to try it out – we only meant to stay one night but we liked it so much we came back for a second. Not only does it give us a feel of what it’s like, which makes it easier to explain to other people, but we can also check whether there are any problems. Then if there’s anything wrong we can sort if out before our first visitors.’

The Duchess, who revealed that she often spends time at both the Swiss Cottage and Russian Cottage, concluded ‘I decorate them the way I would like to have them, and really I’d be happy to live in any of them.’

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