Chatsworth Treasures, and To Thine Own Self Be Blue
Teja and the Treasure Room of Chatsworth House
Near the end of my Derbyshire trip, I went to visit the stately home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth House.
In an earlier article I had mentioned that I preferred the grounds of the estate over the grand house itself. However, there were things within it that are curious enough to take my fancy. Here are some of those that appealed to me the most.
The dining hall
When I visited, the dining room hosted an exhibition that had this dining table, with a tablecloth spread over it written all over with the names of famous people in disparate fields.
Arranged around the table were dining chairs, each of them different, and each crafted to represent some luminary or other. I guess, as if they were all coming to dinner together.
For some reason I adored the notion of having dining chairs that do not match.
The parallel benches
In another room was another curious display. Two benches laid parallel to each other. One a matte, sooty black, absorbing light. The other a resinous slab lighted from within, but not completely clear. I don’t claim to quite get it or remember what it was supposed to be, but the image of it appealed to me.
They didn’t mind if you sit on them. Which was pretty cool.
The subjectivity of treasure
However, the best part was near the end of the tour route. I don’t remember what the room was actually called, because I’ve decided to call it the ‘treasure room’. Packed in here are all the miscellany arty stuff and eccentric collections of the different masters of the house.
Immediately catching my eye is this resin replica of a fruit from my region, the jackfruit. It felt so odd and rather funny to see someone bother to make a likeness of the humble jackfruit and display it with such prominence! Doubtless once upon a time it would probably have been placed in one of the main rooms and shown off, perhaps as an indication of the possessor’s worldliness and knowledge of the exotic things in the part of the empire that was the Malay States.
Then there was this. Someone had clearly been a budding geologist, with this stash of semi-precious crystal and fossils.
So there were lots of statuary in the treasure room. And yet what do I show you guys? A tropical fruit, rocks, and these awesome benches. I don’t know why, I thought it was cool how the mosaic poured onto the floor. Especially the green pair, where the spill stretched out to each other.
To Thine Own Self Be Blue
After I was done with Chatsworth, I walked over to a hamlet next to it called Edensor (pronounced “En-ser”. Why? God knows. And the English have the cheek to complain about French silent consonants).
I will explain why Edensor gets special mention.
When I was planning this trip I had in mind the colour blue. I began in Sydney earlier in the year, when I had gone to the Blue Mountains. I wanted to do as many blue things in Derbyshire as possible. Hence the bluebells, the bluejohn cavern, and even Blu Bistro for a lunch stop.
When I arrived and we drove through South Yorkshire to get to Barnsley, I was gratified to learn that its flag colour is blue behind the white flower. Blue was popular trim all across the Peak District. There was blue decal on the planes that carried me, and on the trains. It felt like the place was giving me a hug and cheering on my Blue Period revival struggle. If ever inanimate things could root for you, this time and place managed to express it.
Then there was Edensor. When I looked it up, after my friend suggested a stop there, I was smitten instantly. The entire hamlet was trimmed entirely – and only – in blue.
He must have thought me mad, blubbering excitedly about blue buildings and his perfect aim.
It was a completely symbolic notion. But at that time, it mattered so much to me, that the whole trip played along with a rhapsody in blue.
What sort of un-treasurelike things have you seen as treasure?