Chatsworth House reopening - with ancient tapestries coming home for guest appearance

A rich picture of tradition is woven into the fabric of the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries, giving a glorious insight into what life was like in medieval Britain.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 11:59 am
Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Opening the gates to welcome visitors to the house.
Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Opening the gates to welcome visitors to the house.

Now these handcrafted masterpieces are returning to their ancestral home for one season only.

The ancient tapestries, nearly 600 years old, have been hung on the walls of Chatsworth House to celebrate its reopening on Tuesday.

“It is a great privilege to welcome these tapestries back to Chatsworth,” said The Duke of Devonshire. “They had been part of the collection for very many years until they were given in partial lieu of death duties in the 1950s.

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Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Opening the gates to welcome visitors to the house.

“Since then they have been superbly looked after at the V&A Museum and we are delighted that they are allowing us to enjoy them here in Derbyshire once again for a few months in 2021.”

Tapestries such as these, enormously costly objects in the Middle Ages, were once the preserve of only the wealthiest of families in medieval Britain.

The Devonshire Tapestries, each measuring more than 11m by 4m, are one of the largest of their kind to survive, and they are the only great 15th century hunting tapestries remaining.

Depicting vivid scenes of dressed noble men and women hunting in imaginary landscapes, they are believed to have been made in Arras, France between 1425-1450.

Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Looking at some of the art on display.

Now Chatsworth, working with the Victoria and Albert Museum where they have been housed, has brought them home for the first time in more than 60 years.

Having been closed for more than six months, the estate will reopen on Tuesday to ‘Life Stories’, an exhibition sharing the stories of a number of people associated with its history.

Nine portraits and objects are to feature, with the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries hung on the walls of the final room in Chatsworth’s Sculpture Gallery.The focus of the eight-month exhibtion is on the traces of people’s lives in the house, and demonstrating how past figures continue to resonate today.

Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. In the painted hall.
Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. In the painted hall.
Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. In the painted hall.
Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. In the painted hall.
Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Looking at the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries
Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Looking at the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries
Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Looking at the Devonshire Hunting Tapestries
Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. In the Sculpture Gallery with conservator Susie Stokoe working with the tapestries.
Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. In the Sculpture Gallery with conservator Susie Stokoe working with the tapestries.
Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. In the Sculpture Gallery with conservator Susie Stokoe working with the tapestries.
Chatsworth House reopening with the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. In the Sculpture Gallery with conservator Susie Stokoe working with the tapestries.