Set in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside, The Chatsworth Estate is a popular destination for tourists, history enthusiasts, highbrows and anglophiles. At the heart of the Estate you will find Chatsworth House surrounded by extensive parkland and a number of attractions including shops, restaurants, a working farmyard, playground and breathtaking landscaped gardens. The Estate hosts several events including the Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials, RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, the Chatsworth Country Fair and a popular Christmas market. Regular exhibitions also take place at Chatsworth and as soon as I read about this year’s main theme I just had to make time in our diary for a visit!
23 March - 6 October 2019
The concept of celebrating ‘The Dog’ has been expertly executed and it’s a unique opportunity to view a vast range of paintings, artefacts, sculptures, photographs and literature owned by the Cavendish family, and also items on loan from other private collections, museums and even the Royal Family.
The main House is off-limits to dogs so we would recommend visiting as a pair or family group so that you can alternate exploring the house and gardens with someone else and make the most of your day out.
The Dog exhibition is not to be missed, each item has its own history and charm. The evidence of the special connection that people have with their beloved companions is something that every dog lover will be able to relate to.
I bought (and would highly recommend buying) the accompanying booklet, also entitled 'The Dog' by Tessa Wild; it's filled with all sorts of interesting information and anecdotes about the subjects of this wonderful exhibition.
A vast array of dog breeds are represented and I found myself hunting for anything that looked like it might be a Lhasa Apso...
I did find a handful of likenesses, although only one that I felt was certainly a Lhasa, and it’s depicted in the painting entitled ‘An Early Canine Meeting’ by R.Marshall, dated 1855. I was also drawn to ‘The Dogs Centrepiece’ by Gerrard & Co, 1842-1843. Although none of the dogs on this piece are Lhasa Apsos, little Cairnach’s golden figure reminded me of Elsa.
Visiting Chatsworth with Dogs
Dogs are welcome in the parkland and gardens of Chatsworth House but must be kept on a lead at all times because it is a working estate and there are animals (including deer) within the grounds. The farmyard and playground are off-limits to dogs, however the official Chatsworth website does list a number of local dog walkers to contact if you would like to arrange care for them while you enjoy the dog-free zones at Chatsworth.
You can pick up a dog walk map from the entrance to the gardens and this has details of three different routes that you can take depending on how much time you have to spare, and your physical capabilities.
We had the pleasure of joining Chatsworth’s official canine mascot, Henry the Goldendoodle, for a short walk around the gardens. Elsa seemed to be completely besotted with him, they did make quite a cute couple! You can follow Henry on the official @chatswoof Instagram account. We parted ways with Henry near the Dog Scaffolding Sculpture by Ben Long and Elsa consoled herself with a pinecone that she found lying around and carried it around with her for most of the walk!
Shopping & Dining with Dogs at Chatsworth
When Elsa eventually tired herself out we headed to the Carriage House Café in the stable block for lunch. Dogs are welcome to sit outside in the courtyard with their owners, but visitors now also have the option to bring their dogs inside and sit within the designated dog friendly area! You have to enter the Carriage House Café via the exit doors, walk straight in and then the dog friendly section can be found on the right. This new feature is a fantastic step towards the inclusivity of dogs by the Chatsworth Estate.
(A cautionary note: I was disappointed to find that people without dogs were monopolising this section, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they could sit anywhere within the café, but dogs were limited to this area only - and there were plenty of other free tables! I would advise securing a seat with your dog before sending someone to get food and drinks if you are planning on sitting inside.)
At the entrance to the Stables shop you’ll find a barrel of ‘dog ale’ so you can make sure your dog has a nice refreshing drink, and perhaps even treat them to a dog friendly ice cream. I was very pleased to see that well-behaved dogs are welcome inside the Stables shop too.
To compliment The Dog exhibition, all of the shops at Chatsworth have an extensive selection of dog themed goods available. You can even buy a special commemorative tag for your own dog like the one featured on the main poster for the event.
Stay at Chatsworth with Your Dog
If you’d like to extend your visit to The Chatsworth Estate there are several dog friendly accommodation options including welcoming pubs, luxury hotels and holiday cottages.
We spent the night at The Devonshire Arms at Pilsley with Elsa, a traditional English inn with beautifully designed rooms, hearty pub grub and two of the cutest pub dogs we’ve ever seen! Click here to read the full post about our stay.