Remember when the sun was high in the sky and the days were warm and long? Here are some summer memories of lounging on the Dukes lawns being entertained at the Chatsworth Country Fair that we wrote for Riddle magazine:
At the Chatsworth Country Fair
As winter time kicks in and those long nights loom ahead of us, Riddle looks back at one of the joys of the English summer.
We rolled up at Chatsworth Country Fair last month after a splendid Sunday lunch at our favorite Derbyshire pub. Being rural hearted urbanites we had visited village fete’s and country fairs before, but none of these had quite prepared us for what greeted us as we drove over the hill into the Chatsworth estate.
It was strangely reminiscent of a romantic weekend in Paris I arranged for my wife once when we were still young (ish!) and carefree. After a leisurely breakfast of fresh croissants and strong coffee, we strolled hand in hand through quiet Parisian backstreets only to turn a corner and to our astonishment, discover we weren’t the only people in the world and that what looked like most of Europe had decided to visit the Eiffel Tower the same day as us! I still owe my wife a trip back to see the view from the top…
Anyway, I digress, back to Derbyshire where the rolling hills had been transformed into a grand celebration of all things ‘county’! Given the location was the splendid Chatsworth House we really shouldn’t have been all that surprised. We parked on the Dukes lawn and walked into the biggest country fair I’ve ever seen!
Central to this rural extravaganza is the Grand Ring, a show arena with Falconry displays, hound parades, Ukrainian Cossacks and much more. Tearing ourselves away from this entertainment we found marquees full of artisan food and drink, arts and crafts, waxed jackets and everything else the country gent and lady might need. As my family went off to look at, try, climb-over and sit-in the many other attractions, I tried my hand at shooting, firing a range of increasingly large guns including a wonderful muzzle loader with an explosive recoil that nearly took my head off! Sadly, we had missed Mary Berry but we were treated to another, cherished British institution, the Red Arrows diving over the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire’s stately home.
This may have been a country fair on an impressive scale but we received the warm, almost personal (we’re not quite on first name terms with the Duke and Duchess, yet) welcome that we’re becoming used to at events on the Chatsworth estate. The organization is seamless and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. There is a lovely air that this is all something very special and grand but that you’re sharing it with good friends. We can’t wait for next year and hope to see you there, only next time we’ll arrive early! 11 months, and counting…