Last Sunday we visited Chatsworth Country Fair in Bakewell, along with what felt like the rest of the United Kingdom. It was a three-day event held in the grounds of Chatsworth Estate, which accommodates the magnificent Chatsworth House — the seat of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, one of the most influential aristocratic families in England.
Chatsworth has a fascinating history, and I was particularly interested to learn that the tumultuous life of Georgiana, an 18th century mistress of the manor, had provided the subject matter for the film The Duchess, staring Kiera Knightley and Ralph Fiennes. The remains of Kathleen (Kick) Cavendish, the sister of President John F. Kennedy, rest at the family plot in St Peter’s churchyard, Edensor — about a mile away from the house — and who, before her untimely death at the age of 28, was the widow of the Marquess of Hartington and heir apparent of the Duke of Devonshire, himself killed during World War II. JFK made a secret visit to pay his respects at his favourite sister’s graveside in 1963, less than six months before he was assassinated, and there is a plaque in place to commemorate this. We’re planning to make a further visit to discover more of Chatsworth’s heritage and wander the impressive gardens, because the house and gardens were off limits during this event.
As already mentioned, we only attended the last day of the fair and for this we are eternally grateful, given that we spent three hours sat in traffic to enter and exit the grounds and spent a shedful of money once through the gates. Despite this, an enjoyable day was had by all, because there was plenty to see and do, including: cookery demonstrations — Mary Berry was in attendance on Saturday and John Torode on Sunday — children’s rides; craft tents; stalls selling everything from leather goods and pet supplies to hot tubs, cars and motorbikes; a variety of food outlets — which bumped up considerably the cost of our day out; picnic in future — all running alongside displays from The Ukrainian Cossack Stunt Team, the Essex Dog Display Team, Charlotte Hill and her Birds of Prey, The Royal British Legion Extreme Human Flight Team, and interspersed with occasional music from Massed Pipe Bands. This, however, is just a flavour of the return for your investment.
The pinnacle of the day for me, though, was the spectacular finale by the Red Arrows. It was loud and daring and in the words of our grandson “the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life”, which might eventually be trumped, given he’s not yet seven … but I doubt it.
If you were thinking of paying a visit next year, I’d heartily recommend it, but arrive early and take along wet ones or hand sanitiser because the chemical toilets have no hand washing facilities, and if you want to keep the cost down, take your own food and drink or disposable barbecue, and do like many others did and picnic by the car.