Chatsworth House has a private Theatre tucked away on the first floor of a tower at the north end of a long wing of the house, which was added to the house by Wyatville between 1820 and 1827. It is a rare example of a private Theatre in a British stately home, more commonly found in European Stately Houses.
Above - The Proscenium and Stage of the Chatsworth House Theatre in 2002 - Courtesy David Garratt
It was designed as a multi-purpose Ballroom and has a flat floor with windows along the side walls. Entrance is through a central doorway in the rear wall, over which is a small balcony for servants to view from, with two large slightly raised boxes either side of the entrance. Opposite the balcony is the stage with a classical proscenium arch with plush velvet house curtains, which are running tabs (curtains). The proscenium is richly painted on a flat surface, in trompe l'oeil decoration giving the impression of richly decorated plasterwork around the arch and tasselled drapery.
Above - The Proscenium and Ceiling of the Chatsworth House Theatre in 2002 - Courtesy David Garratt
The Theatre ceiling is highly decorated with panels painted by Cheron and Thornhill.
The stage is shallow and does not possess a flying grid, but does still have the original pulleys, wings, scenery and borders. There is also still a splendid Act drop (not hung any more, but kept rolled up) depicting Chatsworth house in Elizabethan times.
The stage dimensions are:- Stage depth 13 feet 4 inches, with a scenic width of 23 feet 8 inches. The overall stage width is 30 feet. The proscenium width is 16 feet by 12 feet high. There is no orchestra pit.
Right - The Ceiling decoration at the Chatsworth House Theatre in 2002 - Courtesy David Garratt.
The Theatre is Grade I Listed, as is the house.
When I visited the Theatre, it was being used as a store and workroom for textile conservation of Chatsworth's cushions, curtains, and drapery etc.
Left - The Proscenium Arch at the Chatsworth House Theatre in 2002 - Courtesy David Garratt.
The Theatre is not open to the public, and rarely used for theatrical purposes. However it is a fine example of a private Theatre, a sleeping beauty awaiting its awakening.
You may like to visit the Chatsworth House Website here.
The above article on the Chatsworth House Theatre was written for this site in 2013 and is © David Garratt.
If you have any more information or images for this Theatre that you are willing to share please Contact me.
Above - The Ceiling decoration at the Chatsworth House Theatre in 2002 - Courtesy David Garratt.
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