Sunday, October 07, 2007

England - I miss you!!!!!!!!
So if you know me and aren't just a lurker, you probably know that I wish I was in Yorkshire now instead of middle of nowhere Greene County North Carolina. Oh well, still trying desperately to believe everything happens for a reason. So today's post, well, let's say most (if not all) of the posts for the next week are going to have to do with the England, sort of an ode to the place I call home and a break from "cotton pickin time" reality.

Eve Glossy/Magazine - (you can get it 1/2 off by ordering on the website!)

When this first came out I could find it here in the states at Barnes & Noble's but uh huh no more, no mass, non piu, I can't get it there at all now so I've resorted to their website to get my fill. It really is a smart woman's version of Glamour - has the bit about home decor, Manolo Blahniks (if I've spelled this wrong I apologize, but truly I'm not a Sex & the City girl nor will I ever be capable of spending that much money on shoes), some sex talk, a recipe every now and then, recommedations for holidays/vacations, articles on women in business, etc. its just really good is all. So today when I stumbled upon, it turns out they have an article entitled 1001 Things Every Woman Should Know. Well I would totally be doing you a disservice if I didn't pass along my favourites, riiiiight? So hop on over and read the whole article yourself, you won't be disappointed I promise, just keep in mind you'll have to keep hopping because they don't publish all 1001 things at once!

Tip: REALLY good ones are #s 6 - ta da!, 8 - it seems you really CAN die of a broken heart, 13 - I kid you not there REALLY is BONE in bone china!

Chatsworth - OH GEEZ (as my favourite Uncle would say)

Ok, so its no joke that this is the specific place in England that I want to be. I'm entirely obsessed with this home, no lie. And I just read this article from the Telgraph and am seriously torn, seriously.

To begin with - I hated this house at first. I remember beginning to study it just merely because I had to pick a topic for my term paper and sort of just chose something from a long list because no one else was doing it. I had just started researching when my course group paid the home a visit. as we went through the estate village, turned the corner and crossed the bridge I honestly think my heart skipped a beat. Now it would be easy to say, especially for a aristocracy hating brit (which I am NOT) that this is pompus at its best; the window mullions are actually gold gilded and considering how many windows there are, that is certainly a fantastical feat. However, it wasn't the first time for me that seeing turned into believing. While all my British friends were disgusted with the enormous amount of wealth seemingly overflowing at this home, I was in awe, pure awe and totally and completely in love for maybe the first time in my life.

This estate has devastantingly enough continued to survive amidst wars, and funding issues since the reign of Elizabeth the 1st when it was owned by Bess of Hardwick. The first Duke built the home to impress and welcome William of Orange to England as he had helped him secure the title of King. The fifth Duke William Cavendish married Lady Georgiana Spencer (yes and I do mean Spencer as in Princess Diana descended from) and lived in the house with her and her sister (his mistress) Charlotte. Their child, Lady Georgiana Cavendish went on to marry the 5th Earl of Carlisle, George Howard, who built the second greatest stately home in England - Castle Howard. The sixth Duke of Devonshire (slightly crazy, great taste, deaf, and of course a bachelor) remodeled the home and created the lavish gardens with the help of Joseph Paxton - yeah, Paxton as in Crystal Palace Paxton, that's the one! - and Capability Brown the greatest landscape designer who has ever lived.
This is when the visitors started pouring in. The sixth Duke was well travelled, associated with the greatest designers of his time, and had all the wealth, time and money to prove his good taste and he merely wanted to show off - and he did, by allowing anyone - I mean even the lowest of the low - to walk the grounds, view the waterworks (which he would turn on for even just one pour soul, nevermind the costs incurred), and share in the breathtaking scenery that he and his friends had created.

During World War I the house was occupied by a girl's school and after they moved out it very quickly fell into disrepair. But then along came the Mitford girl - Deborah or Debo, the 11th Duchess and now dowager duchess. She literally brought the house back to life, helped establish and run the trust which continues to allow Chatsworth to survive in all its decadence to this day.

Not without their own share of soap opera dramatics, Debo never thought she would be the duchess, but after the 10th Duke died while being tended to by a suspected serial killer in World War One - and honestly I think at the time he might have been engaged to a Kennedy girl (could be wrong about this so don't take it as gospel), she took over despite roughly 14 MILLION dollars in death taxes, and has continued to do the job extremely well. At times she even runs the ticket booth at the entrance to the house herself, no lie. Now please do take into account that I have read her books (I choose to ignore her pomp and circumstance as she's never known anything else) and despite the air of superiority that so many claim she has, I just try to rationalize by thinking that she is indeed superior. I mean really, this woman has had tea no lie with Adolf freakin' Hitler. (Not that I would want to do so, what with my Jewish nose and all) but still just to say that this woman has a lived A LOT! One of her sisters was the infamous author and self confessed snob Nancy Mitford, another sister - Unity was said to be good friends with
a-hole adolf (actually, upon further reading she was in love with the man and shot herself in the head when she couldn't be with him, but she survived the shot to the head, I know people, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried), another sister was disowned by the family when she became a communist (which she later quit to run a bar-capitalism at its height!) and yet another sister was a fascist - married to the guy who wrote Remains of the Day, her granddaughter is model Stella Tennant
- one of my absolute favourite British birds and as stated before they are very related to the late Princess Di, and furthermore (as if that weren't enough) she gets to wake up everyday in an architectural masterpiece.

But what on earth has her precious son done? No lie, he has enshrined hundreds of over-the-top modern art sculpture within the gardens in order to bring about new visitors. Now I totally understand the whole wanting to be edgy and do something new and different thing, and I totally understand the need to have the funds to continue to keep up the house and estate, and I totally understand art for art's sake - after all these things encompass what I want to do with the rest of my life, but and this is a big BUT "darling, what the hell were you thinking?". Naked Virgin Mary is NOT I repeat NOT the way to go about this! I'm going to choose to not pass too much judgement until I've seen these monstrosaties myself, but I want you to take a look and decide what you think as well. Read the article here and comment please! Stop lurking and comment!

While disagreeing rather adamnatly with his tactics, I feel entirely obligated to give credit where credit is due of course. The 12th Duke has said he wants to break down the "them vs us" stereotype that plagues Britain's aristocracy and commoners. I sincerely feel that is the stereotype that will eventually allow these homes, artwork in and of themselves, to deteriorate and eventually die out so I have to thank Mr. Cavendish as well as his son for all that they're doing, even though I might not particularly enjoy it:

Though he's keen to promote a new series of books about stately homes, he dislikes the word "stately", with its connotations of elitism and grandeur. He buys modern painting and sculpture, but doesn't regard himself as a collector because the word suggests an intellectual rigour he feels he doesn't possess.

It takes over 5.5 million pounds to run Chatsworth and last year over 95% of that was raised from visitors, so they must be doing something right. If you're ever in Derbyshire - please do go see it, you will be impressed, and possibly even fall in love ;)

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