Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Debo's New Home

Chatsworth, located in Derbyshire, has long been the standard to which British estate owners aspire. When Andrew, the 11th Duke of Devonshire, inherited the property in the 1950s it was drowning in debt, a fate that unfortunately was and still is quite common for these large estates. Andrew's wife Deborah the Duchess of Devonshire (commonly known as Debo) was up to the challenge of running such an estate, and she instituted a variety of businesses such as a farm shop that brought in much needed revenue.

Andrew died recently, and Deborah has in turn become the Dowager Duchess. She has also moved out of the "big house", turning it over to her son and daughter in law, and is now living in a smaller house on the property known as the Old Vicarage. With some help from London decorator David Mlinaric, Deborah has created a comfortable and cozy house, much in contrast to her former grand residence. What I find interesting is that at age 87 she has made some rather daring choices- just look at the silver foil-papered powder room! The living room is a mixture of overstuffed upholstered pieces, so characteristic of the English country look, and sleek brass trim on the walls. Deborah's art collection is just as eclectic, with traditional oil paintings, modern pieces, and photos of Elvis, her idol, displayed. All in all, a slightly eccentric home for a singular personality. After all, she was one of the Mitford sisters.

(The Dowager Duchess has written numerous books on Chatsworth, including: The Duchess of Devonshire's Chatsworth Cookery Book, Round and About Chatsworth, and Counting My Chickens... And Other Home Thoughts )

Photos of her dining room and the stairwell

View of the living room

The silver powder room with Elvis, and Elvis again on the mantle

Photo of Chatsworth, circa 1985, by Derry Moore

(Photos of Old Vicarage from W Magazine, May 2007)


  1. love the green staircase.

  2. Lovely! I particularly like the Dining Room with the mixture of contemporary and traditional art and bright upholstery!

  3. Fairfax- I agree. That's a great shade of green!

  4. Katiedid- I think the dining room might be my favorite room.

  5. Love the silver powder room!

  6. As usual, thanks for sharing! I missed this in the May W. (Luckily I have Moore's book and the special World of Interiors issue though :)

    Anyway, you are so right about her spirit at 87.

  7. Welcome back!

    I love the green staircaise. I want a silver feature wall in my living room love love love that.


  8. Simply fabulous. I would love those silken wallpapers on my walls and those fabulous painting. And I am happy to see that chintz is still alive and well in merrye olde England!