Chatsworth House in the Peak District is consistently voted among the nation’s favourite stately homes.
Filmed over six months, this is a glimpse of a modern day, real life Downton. The difference is that Chatsworth earns its keep as a tourist attraction rather than just a private home, and you’d never spot the Earl of Grantham and Lady Cora donning high-vis vests to go litter picking as we see the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire doing in this programme.
The present Duke credits his parents for saving the house from ruin, and the pride he takes in it is a huge part of what makes it so popular with the hundreds of thousands of visitors.
The Duchess, on the other hand, is very much hands-on in the management of the award-winning farm shop, which was first started by her mother-in-law, who is a truly fascinating woman and I am now going to buy her books.
With Chatsworth the biggest employer in the local area, some of the 700 staff have a long family tradition tied up with the house as well. Among those we met in the first episode were farm manager Ian Turner and head housekeeper Christine Robinson, who have more than 30 years’ service.
We also met the new head guide, Heather Redmond, who at just 24 is faced with the daunting challenge of managing a vastly knowledgeable team who have been on the same job since before she was even born.
Currently working through her six-month probationary period, Heather spends her spare time swotting up on the house’s history to ensure she’s a part of its future. But will she make the grade? Yes she did!
Don’t miss this programme, it is well worth a watch.