The evening began with a tour of the archives which houses over 6,000 boxes of estate papers, personal and political letters and correspondence of previous Dukes and Duchess’s plus much more. Fran explained how the Patron’s contribution to the Chatsworth House Trust helps her team care and share the archives through conservation, digitisation and enhancing it further with acquisitions that offer a completely different perspective on life at Chatsworth. A recent acquisition being the papers of Dora Lee who served as a cook to the 9th Duke of Devonshire and Duchess Evelyn.

The Hardwick manuscripts, a miscellaneous selection of early modern papers that were once at home in Hardwick Hall, were highlighted at this event. Within this collection are papers that belonged and relate to the philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

Hobbes was hired almost straight out of university by William Cavendish (future first Earl of Devonshire), to tutor his son. This established a life-long connection between Hobbes and the Cavendish family. He became close friends with the 2nd Earl and then acted as tutor and friend to the 3rd Earl who was 29 years his junior.

As well as cataloguing these papers Frankie also explained how studying the handwriting of the entries has provided vital clues to the provenance and significance of the papers.  Patrons were able to put her skills to the test and help decipher some of the entries in the privy purse accounts of the 3rd Earl, simple but fascinating accounts such as the cost of a beard trim being 12p.

This collection, alongside the papers of Hobbes at the British Library, is the most important collection of Hobbes papers internationally.

Earlier in the year our patrons were also invited on a private tour of the textile rooms based in the house. They were treated to a view of the store rooms which includes state livery, christening gowns, lace gloves and the impressive Queen of Zenobia' ball gown made by the House of Worth for Duchess Louise for the Devonshire House Ball in1897. Patrons were also treated to watching the team in action conserving the library curtains and chintz for one of the private apartments.

'Queen of Zenobia' ball gown for the Devonshire House Ball, 1897, The House of Worth, Paris
'Queen of Zenobia' ball gown for the Devonshire House Ball, 1897, The House of Worth, Paris

Our patrons programme directly feeds into the work carried out by the team at Chatsworth who help to conserve and maintain the collection as well as sharing its contents online and in person via talks and tours. In order to continue with this work and meet our charitable objectives, we look to you for support. The charity relies on income from visitor admissions to the house, garden and farmyard, the Friends and Patrons of Chatsworth programmes as well as sponsorship and grant funding.

Due to the enforced closures and restrictions over the last 18 months 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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