Dining in an English Country House: A Visit to Chatsworth House

Welcome to the 257th Tablescape Thursday!

Have you ever visited Chatsworth House? Unfortunately, I’ve never been to England but I’m determined to get there one of these days. Chatsworth House is a large country house located in the county of Derbyshire in the East Midlands region of England. It was built beginning around 1553 but went through a rebuilding process beginning in 1696. Chatsworth is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, having been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. If you get a chance to watch any of the shows on TV about Chatsworth House, it has a fascinating history.

Recently, Meg who reads BNOTP, visited Chatsworth House. I was so excited when she shared some of her wonderful pictures so I could share them with you.

Chatsworth House in England

Chatsworth has over 30 rooms available for touring!

chatsworth house1 (1)_wm

It’s worth a trip just for the wonderful art collection you’ll find inside.

Painting in Chatsworth House

Today we’re going inside the dining room for Tablescape Thursday.

Chatsworth House (2)

Wow! I can’t imagine how amazing this must be in person!  The first thing I noticed was the table is so wide you can seat two on the end. Just imagine how big this room must be. The chandelier is absolutely stunning and look at that beautiful ceiling! I could get lost in this room for hours–so much to see!

Chatsworth House Dining Room

In this photo from Wikipedia, we get a view of the table from the other end. The table is set in a different way, too. Is that cranberry glass?

Chatsworth_House,_Dining_room from Wikipedia_wm

Imagine being the one in charge of keeping all the silver polished and shiny. I wonder if it’s out most of the time or if they store it in special silver cloth bags or silver cloth lined containers at night? I bet they have a special way of protecting it when the home isn’t open for tours. I wonder if the Duke and Duchess ever entertain here?  I hope this room actually gets used for dinner parties or events a few times a year. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall for a special occasion or dinner here?

Chatsworth House Dining Table

Notice all the flatware. I would need to take a little course in how and when to use all those pieces before dining here. 🙂  The general rule is you start from the outside and work your way in but it would be a little intimidating, wouldn’t it? When in doubt, watch those around you!

Recently, I saw part of a program on TV about Chatsworth House. One of the little tidbits I gleaned from the show was the reason the forks are placed on the table with the tines facing downward. I had seen that done before in books, but was never sure why. I love the reason they gave!

Apparently, the table is set with the forks facing downward so the tines are not easily caught in the French cuffs of the men’s shirts. Swoon! Love a man in a shirt with French cuffs, especially when monogrammed! I think I’ll start setting my tables this way for special dinners like Thanksgiving and Christmas, though there are rarely any French cuffs in jeopardy of being snagged. 🙂

Chatsworth House Dining Room Silver

After dinner, we’ll imagine we are taking a wonderful stroll through the gardens. Of course, I’m holding onto the arm of a lovely gentleman wearing French cuffs. Hey, it’s my dream! 😉

Chatsworth House Gardens


Meg, thanks so much for taking us inside Chatsworth House and letting us dream for a bit. It was completely enchanting!

Looking forward to the beautiful tablescapes linked for this Tablescape Thursday!

Update: I’ve made a change to how the links will display for Tablescape Thursday. They will display randomly each time you visit BNOTP so all participants will have a chance to have their link displayed near the top of the group of links. You’ll easily be able to tell which links you’ve already visited since those links will change color once clicked.

Tablescape Thursday


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  1. Why, it looks exactly like my dining room! The resemblance is uncanny!

    OK, no it doesn’t.
    It’s absolutely stunning to me!

    (And I just have to say this: For years (and years) I have tried to be the first one here. It’s like a little challenge to me, and I have never been able to do it until today. NOW, you tell me that it was all in vain because my link won’t stay there. Well shucks and blazes… foiled again! I think it’s a sign. )

    • Debbie, I know, it looks just like mine, too…they are both red! 😉 About the linking, I know everyone wants to be near the top of the links so I changed it a week or two ago so everyone would have that opportunity. This way no one has to stress over linking up the second it goes up. 🙂

  2. I love the big English “country” houses and although we didn’t get to Chatsworth, we did our fair share when we lived in The Cotswolds. I didn’t know the reason for the tines down but it is a European/English thing — American we do face up. I have some German silver that is engraved on the backside — if you set the table American you don’t see it — if you set it European you do! When I use that I always do the European thing. Lovely pictures of a lovely house.

  3. Susan – I just shot an 18th century table that I have not posted, yet, and I am delighted to know why the forks were turned downward. I did not know that! Love your post and visiting those English country homes. The artwork and the table settings are incredible!! The silver alone makes me swoon. Thanks for sharing this!!

  4. This is lovely…and I would think they have an army of silver polishers..reminds me of that scene in The Help where they were having silver polishing day.. and I do love to polish my silver..something about removing that tarnish and seeing that shine…ahhh. nothing like it!
    thanks for hosting this party..
    Love, Mona

  5. Oh, that would be a fancy place to dine! It does look like cranberry glass. Thanks so much to meg for sharing!! And to you for hosting. xo marlis

  6. Hi
    I love seeing all the table setting
    just looking around today since I don’t
    have my table set for a pretty picture

  7. Stunning, Susan! Just… stunning! And, to be honest, a little scary, too…
    Can you imagine having dinner there, with the Duchess and the Duke, and they stare at you in pure disbelief, just because you are not using the right fork?! Oops…
    I need a course, too! lol
    ~Hugs to you~

  8. Beautiful post! Did you ever see “The Duchess”? Very good movie about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Beautifully filmed and very interesting. I’ve never been to England either, but my wonderful husband is English. Someday, I hope I get to go to visit with him, though like Richard Bucket of “Keeping Up Appearances”, he’s not much on stately home tours!! Thanks to both you and Meg for sharing!!

    • Tess, I didn’t see that one. Now I want to. Did it have a happy ending? Love the show, Keeping Up Appearances. Hyacinth cracks me up! And poor, long-suffering Richard…he deserves an award! 🙂

  9. Thank you Susan for this incredible tour and great party, TT! AMAZING PLACE! I love England, it’s history and everything about it; even the Royals and their portraits, lol! The tablescape is out of this world regal…wish I could actually eat there!!!
    Big hugs,

  10. Sweet Nana’s dining table could seat more than 24 guests. It was a pretty amazing table. The table was so long that the leaves actually had extra legs that were brought from the attic when she was to entertain a large group. The Chatsworth silver pieces placed down the center of the table are majestic…kept in such impeccable condition all these centuries…incredible. I agree with you….I hope that someone really uses this magnificent setting to entertain. Thanks for taking us on the tour and hosting us for the party. Cherry Kay

    • Wow…24 is quite the dinner party! Have any pictures from one of those parties, Cherry Kay? Would love to see that! The dining room must have been huge. 🙂

      • The dining room was quite generous in size. The chairs were those old red velvet and dark elaborate carved wood Victorian design. The walls were all beautiful mahogany paneling. The original chandelier is the one that now hangs in our dining room, and there were matching sconces that were placed around the room. I’ll look for pictures. They’ll be packed away in archive boxes at our warehouse. It may take some time. Nana really did know how to make her guests feel special. Cherry Kay

        • Sounds beautiful! So wonderful you were able to use the chandelier. I know that would make her so happy to see that. Please don’t go to a lot of trouble…would love to see them if you find any.

  11. Peggy Thal says

    Love the gorgeous place and beautiful rooms. I sure would love to be invited to a dinner at that beautiful table. Silver is always wonderful. I am way behind on my silver polishing. Some look more gold. Need a maid ! I do the forks turned over sometimes. Our favorite French restaurant in Williamsburg Le Yaca does this. I only do it with sterling. Thanks Susan for the great tour. Jolly good!!

  12. Wow, this is gorgeamous! What? That isn’t a word? If it ain’t, it oughta be! LOL, about using the right fork, I wouldn’t have a clue! Ya see, I am the country mouse. You remember, country mouse, city mouse? Oh come on~anyway we were the poor relations. I was always askeert of my Aunt, who was known for being Miss Fancy Pants (kinda like Miss Manners, yeah?) Real hoity-toity. Anyways, at my wedding reception (she was really busy looking down her aristocratic nose) she was beginning to cut the wedding cake. She was proceeding to cut through all the layers from the top tier to the bottom, when my sister grabbed the knife (brave, no?) away from her to keep her from completing the cut. Who knew she would do that? Was it an attempt to ruin my cake? Did she not know the correct way (heaven forbid!) or what would possess her to do such a thing?! I still don’t know what in the world she was thinking! I’m not nearly as impressed by smug know-it-alls now, 41 years later. As long as I don’t use the napkin to blow my nose at table, I’m not agonna sweat if I use the wrong fork. Life is too short.

  13. Oh, how lovely, Susan. Thank you for hosting!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shleia 🙂

  14. Linda Page says

    Let’s put Chatsworth on our list of places to see when we take a trip to England!!! I am sure my friend, Harvey Collings, will know exactly where it is. I love anything English….now I just need to visit England! Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures. The travel bug is starting to nibble at me. :>)

  15. I lived in Derbyshire for a year several years ago. Can you believe I never made my way to Chatsworth?!?!? I always had every intention, but time got away from me! One of my big regrets! It is so beautiful…

  16. Just the way I roll~~increasingly erratic-like. SNORK!

  17. Susan and Meg, this was a true treat! Thank you very much!

    I ADORE historic manor tours, and absolutely am thrilled to get a glimpse of this one – WOW!

    I daresay I must look up and watch the recommended shows now, which is bonus info!

    Thank you for hosting a fun weekly linky party, too, Susan.

  18. What an amazing dining room! While I could handle the flatware I’d be completely intimidated by the sheer size of the room and trying to remember which dining partner to speak to first. Was Chatsworth used in one of the Pride & Prejudice movies? Or is it just that many believe it was the inspiration for ‘Pemberly’?

    When faced with such a complex table setting, start from the outside and work your way in towards your plate. After a piece of flatware is used, never put it back on the table. After you use your soup spoon, leave it on the plate under the soup bowl (if the soup arrived on a plate) or in the soup bowl as long as there’s no worry that it will fall out when the bowl is picked up. By the way, always spoon soup away from you.

    Can’t help myself from speaking up when people have etiquette questions!

  19. Susan. I shared a table for the grands, and you shared a grand tablesetting! Sure makes my dinky post look bad! What a gorgeous table. I always swoon over very long tables anyway, but when you add all of this incredible silver (which I would hate to keep polished, but would love to have if there were servants polishing it), I’m about to fall out on the floor. I’ve read that before about why Europeans turn their flatware upside down. Always wondered what those fancy gents were doing with their arms on the table. What a great idea about the linky! Thank you for hosting. laurie

  20. Wow that was great! I’m glad she shared this with you. I was looking at all the candles they have too! I noticed those forks right away- sparks new ideas! I would love to hear the conversations that go on in such high society and to see the table surrounded by guests! Now as far as etiquette goes…. gees… I’d be struggling to look good…especially if I spilled on my top like I did the other night!! 🙂

  21. I just returned from a trip to South England. Chatham reminds me very much of our visit to v Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill and the home of the Duke of Marlborough. Susan, when you go on your trip to England, do not miss Blenheim Palace. You will not be disappointed…it is breathtaking!

    • I visited Blenheim three years ago, I just wished they had had more of the house open.
      Regarding the candles, I told Susan, that when I was at Chatsworth, I saw the wiggly candles and wanted to put them straight!! 🙂 Couldn’t get near though. 🙂


  22. Hi Susan,
    Wow! that is very impressive. I love England especially the villages of the Cotswolds.

    Thank you for hosting,

  23. Margo Kuhn says

    Ssuan, thanks so much for sharing this. It is absolutely lovely. I am definately with you on the men in French cuffs and all. I would love to be a guest for one of the dinners there. I did visit England and Ireland a few years ago and many of the large estates and castles (of course) all had magnificant ceilings and chandeliers. The table at Buckingham Palace was amazing, but they did not let us take pictures inside. I would have love to do so. Unfortunately I did not get to see this one, perhaps, if I ever get back, I’ll take it in.

  24. I love the re visit to this wonderful manor home. The silver? Well this house has a china room in which any and all things table and entertaining are stored, lined drawers with cover cloths for silver pieces. When they are set out for the public they remain out for the tour house times “The season” and are cleaned and put back when the home tours stop. The dinning service is set with chargers, plates, glassware but rarely a full silver service. Flatware will do for the tourists…lol. Thanks for the look back at a wonderful memory of the UK. I have been there several times and have left a piece of my heart behind….till I return.

  25. Susan,
    Exquisite, dear friend!!!
    I fear all my MoMa’s Southern influene on me might not be adequate to dine at that table.
    This does remind me of taking my son to College and we ate in the formal dining hall.
    The young man next to him broke out in a sweat with all the flatware at each setting.
    My son leaned over and said,” Just follow my lead, I’ll not lead you astray.”
    I smiled. .. he was listening during all those Thanksgiving family dinners hosted by his grandmother!!!
    Thanks for hosting Tablescape Thursday each week!
    I’ve found by embracing the new “line~up” of participants post that I quite enjoy it this way!

  26. Ahhh French cuffs…..I’d forgotten about them! I feel a Christmas present for the husband …. and an elegant dinner to go with it!! Thank you for all the wonderful tablescapes….so nice to see them all.

  27. These pictures are worth a thousand words. Having a tour through history like this, is wonderfully inspiring. Getting excited for Downtown Abbey! : )

  28. Susan, can’t imagine living in a home such as this. Think of all the china and tabletop treasures that are in the cupboards in Chatsworth. I visited in 1999. Amazing!

  29. Susan,
    Chatsworth and the beautiful grounds
    Are magnifique! Would love to visit

  30. Beautiful home, beautiful dining room, beautiful silver and crystal. I wouldn’t mind being invited 🙂 I like the theory of tines down for french cuffs! And making it easier to pick up the fork for use since most often they hold their fork tines down .. right? Must be fun to tour these beautiful castle homes. I love seeing the pictures, thanks! I still love your table settings .. much more realistic, colorful and fun 🙂

  31. Hello. You have a lovely website. I’m from England and Chatsworth house is local to us. We are about 10 minutes away so was really surprised to see this on here! We visit the local farm shop which is a must! It is Chatsworth local produce which belongs to the Duke and Duchess. It is truly a beautiful place and highly recommend you visit! To us locals it is known as The Palace in the Peaks !

  32. claire goulding says

    thanks for posting this; I haven’t been to chatsworth in 20 years, and was thinking about booking a coach trip next month, they dress the house for Christmas and its supposed to be beautiful,im going to book it now and will share with you any photos on my return.

  33. Chatsworth is very beautiful but can’t imagine living there. I visited Chatsworth because Kathleen Kennedy, JFK’s favorite sister, was married to the heir of the Duke. Unfortunately he was killed in WWII. The dining room is magnificent. Europeans also turned their forks with tines down to indicate to the server that they have finised eating and the plate and flatware can be removed.

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