Mexborough and Swinton Times July 29, 1887
A Trip with The Conisborough Brass Band To Chatsworth.
One of the most glorious outings it is possible to conceive is a trip to Baslow and from there to Chatsworth House and Park and Edensor and the beautiful country surrounding, to say nothing of the grandeur and majesty of the drive from Sheffield to the former place, and no one ought to miss an opportunity of penetrating into this wild and romantic corner of Derbyshire.
A holiday can be so well spent here, and at such a moderate cost, that it is a matter of surprise that trips from the thickly populated smoky region of South Yorkshire are not more frequent, for although the wagonette to Baslow and back are pretty fairly patronised by Sheffielders, the neighbours a little farther off do not seem to be fully aware of the grand treat that awaits them in this direction.
Chatsworth Hall is a mansion which every Englishman with a taste for the beautiful should visit, and by the kind courtesy of the Duke of Devonshire, its noble owner, it is thrown open every day throughout the year from 11 o’clock to 4, except on Saturdays, when the time for inspecting the wonders and artistic beauties which have taken so many centuries of collection to gather together, is confined to hours, from 11 o’clock to 1. It is not everyone that would throw open his doors to the general public in this manner without let or hindrance, and the desire of the noble Duke, which is here displayed of enabling everyone to enjoy to their hearts content the beautiful things which meet the eye at every turn of this palatial residence in an instance in itself of his consideration for his less fortunate countrymen, and has done much towards making his name so popular in all classes of society.
With all these thoughtsdrilled into me, and with a strong yearning to see Chatsworth Hall I availed myself of a trip which was got up by Mr Gibson, of the Fox Inn, Conisborough, in connection with which the members of the Conisborough brass band and other friends were invited, on Saturday last.
Beautiful weather accompanied us, and when Conisborough was left at 8:30 “All went as many as a marriage bell.” Sheffield where our railway journey ended, was reached at a little before 9:30, where there were a dragonette and two wagonettes, bearing the name of Reubin Thompson, awaiting us. With an eye to business, I immediately pounced upon the box seat of the dragonette, which I guessed would take the lead and thus escaped the dust which the occupants of the other vehicle came in for when the limestone roads of Derbyshire were being traversed.
The band two were accompanied on the dragonette, and as the vehicle moved off they stuck up the “National unity” down the Station Road as far as a Norfolk market. We reached the Moor by way of Norfolk Street, and the lively airs of the band attracted considerable attention until we were out of the range of the houses. Up Abbeydale Road we journeyed, and for a long way we passed a succession of villas and other residences of well-to-do people, who seem to have chosen this district as a quiet retreat from the horror and bustle of the Steelopolis.
Doore and Totley, that favourite holiday place for Sheffield’s rustically inclined, was next passed, but the gardens looked deserted, as indeed they might well be at this early hour of the day. Just previous to this, however, the driver of the dragonette called my attention to a rise in the ground just before us and after its presence had been demonstrated by the lurching of the vehicle, he said that that was the dividing line between the counties of Yorkshire and Derbyshire.
Soon after the receipt of this piece of information an inclination was manifested to discuss it over a glass of beer, and accordingly the first stoppage was made at the Abbeydale hotel. All before us was considerably changed, and the scenery began to acquire that wild beauty for which the hills and moors of Derbyshire are celebrated.
We had a glimpse of the Dore and Totley orphanage, which is perhaps best known to the readers of your journal, sir, as one of the institutions which derive an annual benefit from the charity football matches played at Bramall Lane.
In another half hour we got to what is called the “halfway house” – presumably between Sheffield and Baslow – and here also we made the acquaintance of the landlord. Nothing of very great interest was met with for some time after this, except the occasional appearance of a number of grouse, and a peculiar characteristic about them, to me, was their apparent tameness. Without appearing to take the slightest notice they would allow the conveyancers to pass within a few yards of them, and the first days shooting after the “twelfth” should be a happy one for sportsman who will have the privilege of exercising their skills over these moors.
We kept journeying on, the monotony occasionally enlivened by catch pieces from some members of the band, and now the thought strikes me I may as well acknowledge what a decided improvement the presence of a Band is during a long drive.
On our right about 2 miles from Baslow my attention is directed by the driver to a tall column which surmounts the top of a steep hill at the base of which the road winds. This I am told has some relation to the Duke of Wellington but what the particular association is I was not informed, except that one of the party volunteers the statement that it was here that he had made a view of the surrounding country on the occasion of his last visit to Chatsworth. The immense boulders of rock which in some prehistoric time have been hurled down from the founding heights above from a pretty site in many places; and then, to the accompaniment of a selection from the band, we entered Baslow, and pulled up at the hotel door, where we dismount, and the horses and their drivers believe for some time to come.
It being now 12 o’clock at Chatsworth closing at one, all haste was made to reduce the mile of Park been in between us and the principal object of our visit, after the a short walk under the trees with which the whole park is so picturesquely dotted we arrived at the whole gates which were guarded by a portentous individual displayed in uniform.
It was not long before our guide, Mr Gibson, found the magic “open sesame,” he having visited Chatsworth a few days ago to make the necessary arrangements, and we were forth with taken across the courtyard, I suppose I may call it, and deposited in their keeping in charge of one of the young ladies whose duty it is to conduct visitors round the house and point out the principal objects of interest.
In the grandeur and imposing magnitude of the hall did not inspire awe to the beholder the demeanour and unapproachable style of our Lady guide was calculated to attain that object, and before many steps had been taken under her guidance I believe we were all visibly impressed by the sense of her importance or elseby the icy frigidity of her tones. But I suppose this kind of thing is required of them and doubtless it has the effect of restraining the liberty and inquisitiveness of many a one who would otherwise have allowed those powers full play. I should say each servant had under her charge about 40 visitors at a time, and while we were in there would be about four parties in the house and gardens at one and the same time. This necessities of course an amount of dispatch in viewing the many wondrous things which are to be met with on every hand, nearly approaching to a scramble from one room to another, and on Saturday especially it is impossible to give more than a cursory glance even to objects of the most intense interest.
I would advise your readers, sir, if they ever decide to go to Chatsworth, to go on a Friday, on which day I was informed the attendance was less than it was on any other, and thus there will be plenty of time to stop and critically examine if you like, whatever takes your fancy. It would be useless for me to attempt to give in detail the many beautiful works of art in articles of historical associations which met the eye at every turn; that would be impossible and a complete list of such things will very likely occupy a place in the description of Chatsworth and its surroundings.
But I cannot refrain from mentioning the many beautiful paintings from celebrated artists which adorn the picture galleries, which by the way, are divided into sections of the different schools of painters. On one of the doors of a state room, is or appears to be hung a violin, and so capital is the deception that anyone not acquaintance with the matter beforehand would not dream that it was a piece of trick painting by a well-known celebrity. The state rooms, of which there were two or three, were beautiful apartments, the walls being decorated from top to bottom with embossed leather, and some master conception by a master hand painted on the ceiling. In two of these rooms there are shown the Coronation chair of four English monarchs, besides other objects of great historic interest. In the room containing statuary were some beautiful models, and the pose and proportions of the figures were not only perfect but in some cases a sufficient indication of the story which some of them told. Here alone a day might be profitably spent, but alas, we went in the pursuit of “fresh fields and pastures new.”
I will not say anything more of the interior of the house and when our fair guide had done with us and stood with downcast eyes and outstretched hands for the largesse which is so freely distributed on these occasions.
We were taken in hand by one of the gardeners or helps and started on an exploration of the gardens – which, if possible, surpass the house itself in beauty of conception and excellence of display. Grottos and walks and sylvan scenery, with occasional glimpses of entrancing vistas lost in the shade of the trees which formed them, suggested an earthly paradise, and looking around and marvelling at the sponger of the rocks which hang overhead covered with ferns and lichens and all kinds of creeping plants it would never have entered the head that at one time this was a flat wide expanse of Park, converted into its present state by the triumph of the gardeners art.
The “weeping” tree which is situated in a alcove of one of the past, attracted considerable curiosity and just as some of the visitors at finish satisfying themselves of its unique description they were further reminded of its extraordinary characteristics by a shower of water which suddenly fell upon them from the tree. Of course it will be readily perceived that this was produced by a mechanical arrangement, and the disappearance of our guide at this moment into a little notebook near at hand need not be commented upon.
We were pointed out trees in the front of the house which were planted respectively by Queen Victoria, and the Duke and Duchess of Kent, her parents, and the lake, although nearly dry, was the medium of a little conversation, and we were told that the fountain in the middle was supposed to be the largest and the most powerful in England.
We passed in front of the house where the family reside, and then, after a little more largesse we found ourselves outside the recent of the house and the gardens altogether. It was 1 o’clock now, and the lady despots who had guided us were at liberty and signified their desire to trip the light fantastic toe on the green sward in front of the entrance. Request was no sooner made them complied with, the band accompanying in first rate style, and while the more frivolous members were thus enjoying themselves the remainder, including, of course, myself, took wagonettes to Edensor, which is about a mile off.
All I wanted to go here for was to see the family graves of the Cavendishes and more particularly the grave of Ward Frederik Cavendish who was so foully murdered in Phoenix Park, Dublin, on May 6, 1882. The graves are very plain, and are altogether in the corner of the churchyard; and after inspecting the various inscriptions upon them we spent a few minutes in looking about id set itself, which is correctly described as “the model village,” and a more nicer place and nicer houses and nicer gardens and a nicer general air of niceness I never saw.
With hunger gnawing at our frail bodies we make the best way back to the hotel, where a nicely served dinner was partaken of. After this perhaps the most principal part of the day programme had been gone through to everyone’s satisfaction, nearly 2 hours were left wherein anyone could wonder at their own sweet will, the only stipulation being that they should be back again at 6 o’clock. Some availed themselves of the opportunity of going to the hunting Tower overlooking the whole country around from the top of an eminence, where, it is said, the ladies of the whole used to watch their husbands, brothers and lovers hunting, long time ago. At about 6 o’clock the whole party had assembled together, and a few remarks were made with respect to the day’s outing.
Mr Quinlivan said he fought they should all acknowledge in some way the kindness of Mr Gibson in providing such an outing. He considered Mr Gibson had treated the party most royally, and proposed a vote of thanks to him, which was seconded by Mr Twibey.
Mr Gibson, in acknowledgement the vote, which was very hearty, expressly help that everyone had enjoyed their selves. What he had done upon that occasion he should be glad to do again – cheers – at another place. He hoped also that the number next time would be considerably augmented. The days pleasure had been considerably added to by the band, who had kindly given their services, and he proposed a vote of thanks to them, which was seconded by Mr F. Senior.
Mr Wilson, the leader, who responded, said on behalf of the band they would be very glad to join the party again, and he hoped that the present would not be the last time. What they had done that day had been a pleasure, (here, here.)
The vehicles were then stormed, and the return journey made out by a different route then that which issued in the morning. Going back our way way through the district known as Froggatt edge, and although a bit further round the scenery is magnificent. After sundry stoppages we reach Sheffield shortly before 10, most of the party spending the hour intervening between then and the train time in the Orchard St, Museum.
The trip was a great success, and as it had been decided to make it an annual affair, it was not be the last under similar auspices