STUNNING Chatsworth House is looking back to its best after the latest stage of a multi-million pound restoration project was unveiled at the stately home.
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The two most visible parts of the house – the south and west facades – are now resplendent with gleaming stonework, repaired carvings and gold gilding, just in time for the opening of the new season tomorrow.
For most of last year, visitors to Chatsworth saw large parts of the building covered up with scaffolding and white plastic sheeting, while workers repaired and cleaned the sandstone exterior, damaged by weather over the centuries.
The restoration involved cleaning more than 2,200 sq metres of stonework, re-pointing the facades with one-and-a-quarter tonnes of lime mortar, and lining the familiar inscription Cavendo Tutus with 24-carat gold leaf.
Each piece of the stone used to repair the house was dug from the same quarry that provided the materials to build Chatsworth in the 1820s, when the house was remodelled by the sixth Duke of Devonshire.
And the current, 12th duke, Peregrine Cavendish, said he the house now looked ‘truly magnificent’.
He said: “It’s absolutely wonderful to see the house as it must have looked to my ancestors.
“It has always been a thrilling moment to see the house come into view as you drive across the park and now that view has been made even more magical.
“With the years of blackened grime now removed from the stone, it looks truly magnificent and I’m delighted it has been preserved for many future generations of visitors to enjoy.”
Sean Doxey, Chatsworth’s head of special projects, said it was vital the work was carried out.
He said: “Although the building was in reasonably good condition, it would have started to deteriorate very quickly if we hadn’t stepped in now to repair the worst ravages caused by the weather.”
The restoration was part of Chatsworth’s £14 million Masterplan project to return the house to its former glory.
Further work will take place over the next few years to clean the east front, visible mainly from the garden. Attractions at Chatsworth this year include an exhibition of gold, silver and bronze items to mark the Olympic year, including racing trophies and medals.
From Wednesday, March 28, 15 sculptures by artist Sir Anthony Caro will be on show in the gardens, and a host of fun activities are planned for Easter.
In May, the International Horse Trials return to the grounds and the house will also be transformed for five days with floral displays.
From early July, rarely seen treasures from the Devonshires’ extensive collection of Old Master drawings will be shown, including works by Rembrandt, Leonardo Da Vinci and Van Dyck.
* Chatsworth opens for the first time this year at 11am tomorrow, Sunday (March 11, 2012).