On this post, my visit to Chatsworth House and the medieval walled city of York.
I feel like I’ve been a blogging machine since I got home from my trip. I’ve had two blogs a week, and it’s a lot for me.. and maybe you too. So sorry if you are tired of hearing about this trip! I have one more post about Edinburgh and what I packed and then II will be back to my regular bits and bobs.
UK Trip Part 3- Chatsworth and York
This is the fourth installment of the UK trip and this will be about visiting the Peak District and historic Chatsworth House and the incredible city of York..
Bakewell and Chatsworth House
When Max and I planned to drive through some of the country in the UK, I knew I wanted to get to Chatsworth. I had read so much about it, and of course being a Pride & Prejudice fan, made it even more romantic! ( Insert eye roll from Max here.) Jane Austen most likely based Pemberley on Chatsworth House .
They believe Jane wrote the novel while in Bakewell and had admired the house which she visited. I didn’t know this, but we stayed in Bakewell, which is four miles away from Chatsworth House and in the Derbyshire or the Peak District. It’s famous for its hill and walks and Max had planned or us to go on one, but the weather turned super rainy just as we got to this part of England.
My last post left off when we had just had lunch in the upper part off the Cotswolds, with my friend Rosie in her town of Stratford-Upon-Avon. We had about a two hour drive, which wasn’t bad, but Max’s GPS on his phone re-routed us a few times and at one point, it choose a hotel of the same name, The Rutland Arms, in Sheffield instead of Bakewell… It was getting dark and we realized at some point thankfully, we had overshot the turn by 35 minutes! We had dinner reservations at the hotel at 7 and just about made it there after a rather hairy drive through the twisting ‘peaks’ of the Peak District in the pouring rain and dark!
Our hotel was in the center of a quaint town, Bakewell. As it was pouring, I was glad to have dinner planned there. The Rutland Arms looks like it’s been there forever and actually the Bakewell Tart, which the town is famous for was accidentally made by a cook at the hotel in 1860. Our room looked like something out of a Jane Austen novel with a comfy four poster bed. After a dinner in the hotel dining room, we had some English comfort food, which was perfect on a rainy night, and I slept like a dream..
The front room off the hotel has a lively gathering area by the fire and groups of folks who were walking the Peak District were chatting. Dogs are allowed here and very welcome all over the countryside.. In fact there are brochures about pub crawls with your dog in this area!
The next morning after breakfast, we walked the town and checked out some local shops, then headed to Chatsworth where we had booked 10:30 tickets to the house. I recommend booking tickets ahead, more info here, so you know when you can enter and not wait around, as only so many can be in the house at one time.
The house was being decorated for Christmas as it is a popular place to go for the holidays. In the UK, the holiday season starts about November 1 and people are really good about planning days out to stately homes with friends. Chatsworth, like others, has shops and restaurants and even has a playground and welcomes dogs on the grounds. So it’s really a day out with the family sort of place. They were herding the sheep to another pasture as we walked up. The grounds are stunningly beautiful and the house is set in the perfect spot.
We did the audio guided tour of the gorgeous home. The public gets to see about 30 of the 100 rooms and the Cavendish family, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, still live there. The home has been in their family since 1549, and they are the 16th generation to reside there!
The house was built by Bess of Hardwick, once the second most powerful and richest woman in Elizabethan England. She was married to a Sir William Cavendish and also built Hardwick Hall, which is supposed to be the best preserved example of Elizabethan culture and architecture ( I would like to see that on another trip).
The best part really is the main gallery with the stairs. It’s called the Painted Hall, and was built by the 1st Duke of Devonshire.
The state bedroom is also beautiful and the tapestries. The doors are massive and as Max is about 6’3 you can see he was dwarfed by them. The beds are short and an 8 year old also on the tour and I discussed if we could fit, and said we’d like to try!
The family has an extensive collection of art collected over centuries. I loved this doorstop!
The current Duke collects modern porcelains and many were on display like at this fireplace..
After about a 20 minute walk through the home, you are in the gift shop, which was previously an orangery..It was fun to see the house partly decorated and the gift shop is huge. There is also a garden shop and a few restaurants. We had a cozy lunch on a very wet day and shared a coronation chicken sandwich and an autumn soup. We also had a Bakewell Tart, because when in Rome… They are very good!
We didn’t get to check out the extensive gardens as it was pouring pretty hard. You can see the 300 year old cascading fountain and much else if you walk the estate.. We loved seeing the sheep and later we encountered one on the road.
That said, Max and I both felt something was missing with the Chatsworth visit and really it was the family story. We are both history buffs and in the audio guide the focus is really on the art and some of the architecture. This could have been more interesting with a guide who could tell you more stories of the house, and the people who built it like Bess of Hardwick, the other Dukes and Duchesses like Georgiana, and how the family came to set up the trust to keep it back in the 1950’s. I want more human interest stuff.
The house is absolutely stunning at the holidays and if you go to the website you can see about the markets and events and how they dressed it like an advent calendar! You can also read more on the home by the former Duchess’s book.
After our lunch we got back on the road and did our last leg in the car up to the historic city of York. York is beautifully preserved and full of history and the highlights are the medieval walls that ring the city and the largest cathedral in England, York Minster, which dates from the 7th century.
We dropped off our rental car in York and took a cab to my favorite stay of this trip, Gray’s Court Hotel. It’s a beautiful building and you enter at the back through cobblestone alleyway and wooden gates and into a courtyard with leafy trees, which in summer would be lovely to sit at.
Inside is a cozy sitting room with a cracking fireplace to sit by while they check you in.
They kindly helped us up the stairs with our luggage ( again pack light), to our room, facing the beautiful gardens and beyond are the city walls..
The hotel, literally in the shadow of York Minster, was once the accounting office for the church and is around 500 years old and just gorgeous.
It was a wet day, but we got out before dark to experience the cathedral bells, which are incredible and hear it play an extended song..( Another option we did not do, but would be perfect before dinner is Evensong at the cathedral.) The town is charming with many cobblestone streets, and quaint shops.
There are a lot of walking tours here to be had.. Many people also want to see the Shambles, which is one of the best preserved streets from the 14th century with shops hanging over which give it a crooked feel. Originally, it was a street of butcher shops and the overhangs of the buildings gave shade to the meat on the street. These lanes were a mess and unhygienic and where the word ‘shambles’ as we know it today springs from! I thought that was interesting.
Part of it has become very commercial as some of the Harry Potter films were based on this street and wizard shops have cropped up to make money off that. Many families and kids loving all that..
We took a long walk around the cathedral, and got back to our hotel where we had booked dinner at 7 at their highly rated Bow Room restaurant. We started with a drink in the cozy lounge. What I didn’t know was that the menu was a multi-course tasting menu! We were exhausted from the day and the drive, but it turned out to be one of the best nights we had on the trip.
The food was delicious and just the right amount. Highlight was the treacle bread and home made butter.. and I loved the desserts. Great service and Max did the wine pairing so we got to try some unique things. They ended the night with more of the delicious bread wrapped for us.. I would recommend this if you stay in York! The chef had had created dishes with nod to his northern upbringing. All spectacular.
The next morning we meant to see the cathedral, but it was sadly closed for a service. York Minster takes up many blocks! There was a cute new cafe that had the best view of it called The Rectory.
We walked along the city wall..You can see the moat that is still around the wall..
You enter and exit at historic gates… More snaps of pretty things..
We were lucky get into the much loved Betty’s Tea Room afterward. There is always a long queue to get into Betty’s which is famous for its rascal buns. Thanks to my friend Rosie, I knew all about this spot.
The line went fast and we miraculously got a window seat in ten minutes and had some fun people watching and especially enjoyed a school group do a scavenger hunt. ( By the way, October is not a slow time to visit the UK, as many schools have half term breaks and many families were off the week before and the week after we were there.)
Betty’s also has a shop and we bought a few things for the train ride. The sweet hotel also sent us off with waters and home baked cookies! ( This was not low carb travel!)
We took a cab to the train station and set off for Edinburgh a little after lunch. The York train station is fine, but if you buy first class tickets, you can wait in a warm lounge which also has snacks and beverages. The station is open air and pretty cold. The train ride to Edinburgh is 2 hours 45, depending on the stops. We did a LNR train with 2 stops.
We met this sweet lady coming back home to Edinburgh with her pup, Suki Sausage. What a good dog and she let me take a photo. So many dogs, especially in the countryside in the UK, where they are welcome everywhere and I loved it!
Earlier this week, did write about the coolest coats that are on my radar for this week’s Signature Style with Cindy if you missed it.
I also just got the black version of the trench I took on the trip and love it! I added it to the post, and took a photo in it.. This trench is such a nice one and is on sale even more now for the holiday..It’s $124 and an extra 30% off with code SOFESTIVE.
We are planning a small Thanksgiving with my sons and dad. Max and I are making less dishes and just a turkey breast. I haven’t even figured out my table yet! I will share when I do, but I’m sort of an impromptu tablescape person.. I’m just so excited to have everyone here and I hope we get a game night and a walk or two… and a viewing of Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving. I just need to see Snoopy set the table, and maybe an old Meg Ryan rom com.
I am wishing you a happy Thanksgiving and holiday week. My heart is also going to all the families at this time in war regions. It’s been hard seeing so much suffering lately and so many missing or losing loved ones.
Thank you for stopping by,
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