What does a wet T shirt, the Crystal Palace and a sycophantic peer have in common?
It’s one of those very precise stately homes we British do quite well, like queuing and moaning.
Built by an extraordinary woman in the 16th century and adapted by her descendants to suck up to the then powerful royals, it is grandiose in a way that today is the reserve of footballers and rappers.
It’s bling – the window frames are covered in gold leaf – it is its own museum and it still purports to be a family home for the Dukes of Devonshire.
Don’t you love that? It’s still their family home even though it survives on we tourists’ income, from estates that were inherited and not earned, and grants from bodies we paid into in taxes and lotteries.
But then again it could be owned by Jeff Bezos or Igor Richbitchovitch so there are pluses to inherited inbreeding.
The house has a lot of compelling history, some smashing artefacts – there’s this marble statue that is beyond description – how do you carve marble so sheer it looks like muslin?
And the gardens are a vista or ten to die for.
There’s this lake and fountain built by Capability Brown, greenhouses by Joseph Paxton that led to him being commissioned to build the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851 and a cascade with different pitches to create a variety of sounds as you climb alongside its banks.
Oh and Mr Darcy climbed out of a ditch showing off Colin Wotsit’s torso in Pride And Prejudice. So what’s not to like.
It’s a family portrait done in DNA. A quite literal waste of space.
I did wonder whether I should become a republican at this point in my tour, but then I was reminded of the old philosophical joke. Two philosophers went into a bar to discuss the Monarchy. The British Philosopher said to his French counterpart ‘I don’t understand you’re problem with Monarchy and landed gentry – in Britain they work well in practice.’
‘Ah Yes,’ said the French Philosopher, ‘ they may well work in practice but they don’t work well in theory.’
Maybe that’s why we voted for Brexit? Maybe that’s why we still indulge the Cavendish clan and allow them to waste the money from their exploitative past on crap like the above ‘portrait’. Because, in practice, the compromises we all make to be able to enjoy the day out I had make it all worthwhile. Probably. Keep Chatsworth just the way it is, and we’ll keep the tumbrils garaged.
And have a few laughs on the way…