Traces of the Bachelor Duke

The Long Gallery at Hardwick ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Hardwick Hall is one of those places that look deceptively unchanged. In a previous post I referred to the building of the house by Bess of Hardwick in the late sixteenth century. In fact, a huge amount of change took place there subsequently, particularly during the time of William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire (1790-1858).

The canopy in the Long Gallery, from a bed made by Francis Lapierre for Chatsworth in 1697. ©NTPL/Nick Guttridge

The ‘Bachelor Duke’, as he was known, inherited the title and the huge Cavendish estates in 1811, at the age of 21. He was spoilt and extravagant, but also lively and loveable, and he greatly enjoyed entertaining, in spite of his increasing deafness.

Early-eighteenth-century bed in the Green Velvet Room. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

The Bachelor Duke combined an abiding interest in the past with a Regency love of splendour. At Hardwick he restored the fabric and the interiors of the house, but he didn’t hesitate to move things around and add furnishings from some of his other properties.

Bed from about 1740 in the Cut Velvet Bedroom. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

He greatly increased the number of paintings hung on the tapestries in the Long Gallery, for instance, effectively making it into an art gallery. He also added the tester and head of a 1697 state bed brought from Chatsworth halfway down the Gallery, in a romantic recreation of the state canopies of Bess of Hardwick’s day.

Cupboard in the style of Jean Goujon set against Flemish tapestries in the Withdrawing Chamber.©NTPL/Nick Guttridge

The early eighteenth-century green velvet bed at Hardwick was brought by the Bachelor Duke from Londesborough Hall in Yorkshire, which the Cavendishes had inherited from the Earl of Burlington in 1753. The cut velvet bed in another room, by Thomas Hardy and dating from about 1740, came from Chatsworth.

Conservation work being done on one of the Gideon tapestries from the Long Gallery at Hardwick, part of a long-term programme of conservation being undertaken at the textile conservation workshop at Blickling Hall. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The Bachelor Duke was also responsible for adding more tapestries to the walls of Hardwick, using it almost like wallpaper. It appealed to his romantic eye, as well as providing some protection against the perishingly cold Derbyshire winters.

9 Responses to “Traces of the Bachelor Duke”

  1. columnist Says:

    The tapestries certainly add huge interest to the walls of the interiors, as well as being very practical; the perfect combination for good interior design.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Quite. In this case, however, the cold was still a problem. The sixth Duke wryly describes ‘a vain attempt we made to pass some evenings in the Long Gallery; although surrounded by screens, and sheltered by red baize curtains, the cold frosty East wind got the better of us.’ One can picture the elegant Regency company sitting there in the howling draught trying to keep up appearances :)

  3. Barbara Says:

    I tend to like folks who refer to their own actions as “a vain attempt.” And I particularly appreciate the close up photo of the textile restoration. Thanks.

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes the Bachelor Duke seems to have been very charming, but also very demanding – like the nicer sort of Rock star.

  5. style court Says:

    Emile, thanks so much for following up on my previous question with this image of conservation work.

    The furniture placement in the Cut Velvet Bedroom certainly gives it a stately-yet-inviting feel. With the chaise and chair by the fireplace and the trunk at the foot of the bed, I’m reminded of 21st century decorator Michael Smith’s beautiful projects out in L.A. Smith does so many similar beds inspired by the ones in the great old British houses. But of course his clients often have a remote controlled TV that pops out of the trunk at the foot of the bed. Your rock star analogy feels spot on :)

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Courtney, it is interesting you should notice the decoration of the Cut Velvet Bedroom, because this was rearranged by Duchess Evelyn, the wife of the ninth Duke, in the early twentieth century. An Edwardian version of a Regency version of an Elizabethan interior – we are really getting into the layers within the layers now :)

    Duchess Evelyn was another fascinating character in the history of Hardwick, with strong curatorial, conservation and decoration instincts – Michael Smith would indeed probably feel an affinity with her.

    Together with her assistants she repaired many of the textiles at Hardwick. She was also responsible for preserving the architectural furnishings of Devonshire House in London, which were the star items in the recent auction at Chatsworth.

  7. CherryPie Says:

    Thanks, that brings back memories from my visit earlier this year :-)

  8. robert - innatestyle Says:

    Dear Emile,

    May I? You mentioned Michael Smith. Alas, for headier days and grander, lost talents. I spent my youth as design intern and later assistant to the late Tony Duquette. Rooms filled with Fortuny velvet, canvases by Boutet de Monvel, photographs by Baron de Meyer, dining with the Maharajah of Baroda or Gloria Vanderbilt. Mary Pickford’s memorial was held in the main salon at the former Duquette Studio, and at the age of twenty I was surrounded by silent film stars and directors as the eighties had just begun. Style and taste were truly merging, older generations and new. Growing up adjacent to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Biltmore Hotel and Estates in Phoenix, Adele Astaire, Lady Charles Cavendish could regale with pre-war tales of Devonshire properties. Last year I wrote to the dowager Duchess requesting anecdotes of Lady Charles she might share, and her personal response came by return mail in less than a week! Talk about ‘grace!’ And I’d only met her once!
    So long winded, but Emile, you’re self-effacing charm, wit and intelligence set a far higher standard than many or most. I love the reference to the Bachelor Duke acting much like a nicer Rock Star!

  9. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Robert, you are too kind. You seem to have had an amazing social and cultural education. Perhaps you should record some of those encounters on your blog?

    Speaking of the dowager Duchess of Devonshire, her new dower house on the Chatsworth estate was featured in the September issue of The World of Interiors (and can be glimpsed on the Aesthete’s Lament’s blog: http://aestheteslament.blogspot.com/2010/09/details-count-fillet-fillet-whos-got.html).

    It includes silvered lavatory walls, which would seem to be a rather Duquette touch. But then she is a Mitford, and they seem to be in a class all their own.

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