Chatsworth is one of the most famous of stately home in the UK. Being the setting for Jane Austin’s Permberly in the most recent Pride and Prejudice as well as being the top tourist attraction on the Peak District. I visit this place a lot but this post is about it wonderful annual Christmas market and the Christmas exhibit. Unfortunately this years market has now finished but you still have a chance to visit the Dickens exhibit which is on until the 7th January. The Christmas market usually starts in November and is on for 3 weeks.
If you haven’t been for the Victorian Christmas market then you need to put it on your must do list for next year. It is not like any other I have been to in the UK. It’s £10 to park up but free entry to the market, or you could park in nearby Edensor for free and beautiful walk in! No filter needed for this
The market is made up of little Posen lodges which house stalls from all over the Peaks . There are bakeries, carpenters, jewellery, alcohol, Christmas brick a brac and toy stalls galore as well as many different eateries spanning a lot of the world. Whilst browsing the stalls you’ll hear different bands playing jolly Christmas tunes and carols to really put you in the Christmas spirit. It’s also a dog friendly market so if you’re afraid of dogs be prepared. The market is beautifully decorated with Christmas trees and there is even a competition for the best decorated stall. So a lot do get involved and it is very competitive.
The market will only take you a maximum of a couple of hours so seen as though you have come this far you may as well pop into the Christmas exhibit and gardens. It is £19.90 for adults, £15 for children, and £60.90 for a family ticket (2 adults and 3 children). Do either book your tickets online before you go or as soon as you get there are they sell out very quickly. Especially when exhibits are on. This years Dickens exhibit is their best selling yet. We booked on the day at about 11:45 and managed to get the earliest time possible at 2:15pm so we decided to have a good wonder around the gardens.
The first think we did when we entered the garden was jump straight onto the horse and cart in front of us. It was £2 for adults and £1 for children and it took you up and down the boardwalk where you got a fantastic view of the house from being that little bit higher. I definitely felt like I was back in the 19th century.
Once we returned and disembarked we wandered up to the First Dukes Greenhouse where this amazing picture was taken.
It is such a beautiful view from here that I don’t doubt ladies lazed around her waiting for their suitors to come.
From here we then wondered to the kitchen gardens where you can see all the vegetables grown for the family, we then followed to upper path past the trout lake till you hit the top of the cascade. You’ve got to stop here for another photo opportunity as the view is stunning! Also if you have time when you leave the gardens climb up to the Hunters Tower and see more of the cascade for free. It starts right at the top of the hill at the Emperors lake.
Back onto the upper path I suggest you wander over the little river then via off to the left and find Morton’s pond which is a lovely place to sit around in the hight of summer and read. It’s very rarely visited so nice and quiet.
From this way you also enter the back of the Grotto house which has excellent views of the surrounding countryside and gardens. We then wondered around the Grotto pond before wandering down the trough waterfall towards the maze. This maze is a little tricky as it feels like you are about to come out of the maze when you’re actually about to find the centre. It’s great for kids and adults and is highly amusing to see the kids and adults getting lost. Let’s say you will hear a lot of arguments!
Another great place for the children is venturing down underground into the coal tunnel which is situated underneath the rock gardens. It is lit so it isn’t as scary as children may think but if it has rained make sure you are wearing waterproof shoes as there are a few puddles.
Our last stop was to wander down past the ring pond, where some of the art exhibits are based, towards the Emperor Fountain and the best views of the house.
From here we wandered back to the entrance grabbed our “free” coffee, as we gift aided to get in, and sat marvelling at Flora’s temple. Don’t bother going into the gift shop here as it’s the exit to the house so there isn’t much point. It was now nearing our house slot so we set off toward the house entrance.
The House and Dickens Exhibit
You wandered down to the main entrance, which is currently boarded up for refurbishment, and past the profiles of some famous Dickens characters. Make sure you get to your entrance time early as you end up near the back of the queue and have to wait as a few at a time are ushered into the house.
You enter in through the Sub Hallway which is filled with book and people made out of books and a book Christmas tree. From there you are guided down the corridor decorated with the letter of Noël and Joy. Do stop and look at the Egyptian artefacts on display, some of them are outstanding.
Before you go into the next room have a look at the offices of Scrooge and Marley all beautifully snowed. You then enter into the astonishing chapel with its huge Christmas tree and ceiling mural. You then pass through the chaplains room to find a rather odd upside down Christmas tree.
From here you are directed into the Grotto and covered quadrangle where you are emerged into Victorian London. Throughout he tour you will find yourself singing along to the hits from Oliver Twist. Yes I caught quite a few people doing it so instead of laughing I just joined in!
You then enter the magnificent Great Hall and ascend the stairs to the first floor. Be sure to stop here to pass on your Christmas Cheer by placing a tag on the tree, if not shout “bah humbug” and climb the stairs to the second floor. Next you wandered into Scrooge’s bedroom where a startled Scrooge is being visited by the ghosts.
You are then directed back down the to first floor to view the wonderful library before passing through Miss Havisham’s covered ladened wedding table. At this point take the advantage of the Victorian dress up box and have a play with the costumes!
Next come the entrance to the sculpture hall. Do no miss the exquisite vailed lady. She is a beautiful sculpture that should be marvelled at. From here you enter the Orangery gift shop and are back in the gardens.
As it was getting dark we left with the Xmas market still in full swing. We wondered back over the bridge out towards Edensor when the estates reindeer made an entrance. This really made a wonderful day a magical one.
My top tips for your visit
1. Arrive at 10am for the market to avoid the traffic and queues
2. Save yourself £10 and park in Edensor in front of the church.
3. Of you want to go into the house either book before you come or on arrival to avoid disappointment.
4. Get the gift aid to help Chatworth stay where it is and use the receipts on food or gifts.
5. Do prepare if you do not like dogs.
6. Bring cash. There is always a queue for the ATM and it charges. Some stalls do except card.
8. Do walk up to the Hunting Tower and see free parts of the garden. Walk towards the farmyard and and take the road to your right.
I hope you have a great time exploring Chatsworth!