The State Coach is a type of vehicle known as a chariot as it seats two people rather than the four that sit in a coach. It was likely made by Hooper & Co. who, throughout the 19th century, made coaches and chariots for aristocratic households as well as royalty.

The chariot would have been used to take past Dukes to court as well as formal occasions. The chariot was last used in 1953 by the 11th Duke of Devonshire, Duchess Deborah and their son, the then nine year old Marquis of Hartington (now the 12th Duke of Devonshire) in his role as page to his grandmother Mary, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, to the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

On the day of the coronation the chariot was driven through the streets of London to Westminster Abbey. However, it soon became clear that the coachman, Edward Atkinson, didn’t know the way. This resulted in the 11th Duke shouting instructions out of the small window to Edward, much to the amusement of onlookers. The original measure of a long string tied to a button on the coachman’s jacket, which had been used to get his attention, had proved insufficient.

Conservation of the State Coach

The State Chariot currently resides in the Duke’s Garage. Should the need arise for its formal use again, it would require some serious restoration. Our textile team has calculated the interiors alone would cost around £30,000 to re-upholster, reline or replace, while an additional £30,000 would be needed to conserve the body of the chariot, the wheels and the tack that accompanies it.

The State Chariot is not alone in its need for restoration. It is estimated that there is currently over £1 million worth of conservation work to be carried out in the house, a cost which continues to rise while the charity faces the financial challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alongside our popular Friends Membership scheme, our Patrons programme is one of the many ways these conservation projects are funded. The programme was designed as a way for people to get closer to the work of Chatsworth House Trust while helping to play a vital role in contributing directly to the conservation needs of the charity. In August we were delighted to welcome Patrons, in a socially distanced manner, to see the State Coach up close.

Due to the enforced closures and restrictions in 2020 we launched an online donation platform enabling visitors and supporters of Chatsworth to donate directly to the charity for the first time as well.

Learn more about how you can donate by visiting through the link below or join us at one of our prospective Patrons events which we hold throughout the year.


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