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The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire

by habituallychic

08 . 09 . 10
I should have mentioned in my last post about the Chatsworth House attic sale that my follow up would be about Deborah Mitford, The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.  Without her guidance, Chatsworth House would not have become one of the finest English manor homes.  She was instrumental in its restoration and created the Chatsworth Farm Shop and other products to keep the home running. 
She also happens to the last living member of the famous Mitford family and even more famous Mitford sisters.  It would take me a week to list all their husbands and adventures so I will refer you to The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family and The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters for further reading.  The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire has also written many books on Chatworth House and this November her book, Wait for Me!: Memoirs will be released.  Her sister Nancy Mitford’s book Wigs on the Green is also being re-released tomorrow! 
After her husband died and her son assumed the title of Duke of Devonshire, she assumed the title of the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.  She is still very involved at Chatsworth and her famous chickens but a few years ago moved from Chatsworth House and into the Old Vickarage, a smaller cottage on the property.  These photos from Simon Upton appeared along side the article in a May 2007 article in W magazine.  Unfortunately, the article is not available online but I just saw that the September 2010 issue of The World of Interiors will feature an article about her leaving Chatsworth.  The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire is now 90 years old but I somehow don’t see her slowing down any time soon!
The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire
The pink of the living room reminds me of Hamish Bowles apartment.
Her famous Elvis memorabilia sits on the mantel.
The wall colors look straight out of Farrow & Ball.
I hope The World of Interiors article has more photos of her lovely new home.
Photos by Simon Upton

Comments Closed

  1. Karena August 9, 2010 | 3:48 pm

    Heather I love to hear about icons like The Dowager Duchess, so wonderful!

    Art by Karena

  2. Belle on Heels August 9, 2010 | 3:49 pm

    love that she’s wearing a leopard-print cardigan. still chic at 90!

  3. Clay and Fiber Artist August 9, 2010 | 3:58 pm

    I recommend reading all the books about the Mitford sisters and their families. Especially their life together in childhood.

  4. Teresa Hatfield August 9, 2010 | 4:10 pm

    Love the leopard cardigan! Great post.
    Teresa (Splendid Sass)

  5. sharon August 9, 2010 | 5:31 pm

    I’m really not sure that they will be making any more like this one – the Duchess is a very amazing person, and I can’t help but feel sad that the day she leaves us. a whole elegant generation will be turning a page.
    A lesson to us all

  6. Faux Fuchsia August 9, 2010 | 6:24 pm

    Everyone loves Debo. How fab does she look in leopard print?

    Heather next time you are in Paris you should visit Nancy Mitford’s flat in Rue Monsieur. I went with my sister. You could imagine her swishing in and out in her New Look Dior.

    Thanks for posting about the Mitfords. The Pursuit of Love remains a favourite of mine. I’m going to visit Swinbrook Village in their honour later this year.

  7. Jane August 9, 2010 | 11:51 pm

    oh!! now I feel bad for scolding you yesterday…

    These are lovely images, what a perfect home for a 90 year old and yet still very young and fresh. She is not the writer her sister Nancy was but she was probably the most balanced and sensible.


  8. Christa Pirl August 10, 2010 | 12:50 am

    Thanks so much for the info and wonderful photos!

  9. Deborah August 10, 2010 | 1:33 am

    I want to look like her when I’m 90!

  10. Even at 90 she is still a woman of style. I hope to be her someday.
    Thank you for the write-up info, I will take the time to learn more….

  11. annechovie August 10, 2010 | 2:25 pm

    I think she is adorable! I’d love to have tea and chat away the afternoon with her in her charming vicarage. Her color choices are sublime.

  12. Yolanda August 12, 2010 | 1:21 am

    She looks like a fasinating woman.

    The house is just fabulous. I’ve never seen pink look so amazing.

  13. ZoeB August 13, 2010 | 12:50 pm

    Just read the article in World of Interiors. There are photos of the interior taken from different angles than the ones you posted. Having an elderly mother myself I wondered how she managed the stairs as older British houses tend to have quite steep staircases but I noticed in the article that she has had a lift installed. Problem solved !

  14. Habitually Chic August 13, 2010 | 12:56 pm

    I’m so glad everyone loved this post and woman as much as I do! I also love that she’s wearing the leopard cardigan. I think her fun spirit must be what keeps her young!

    Zoe B – I can’t wait to see The World of Interiors article and the new photos. I too was wondering about the stairs so I’m glad to know they aren’t a problem! Have a great weekend!