Peregrine Cavendish, 12th Duke of Devonshire, and his wife Amanda A special exhibition, called Chatsworth Renewed, will pay tribute to men like Mr Taylor, Mr Wright and Mr Walker, and the the craftsmanship that helped transforms raw materials into the jewel that is Chatsworth House today. The home’s Belvedere turrets and vast tracts of lead on the roof have also been repaired and restored, along with wood panelling, tapestries and flooring ahead of its re-opening on March 24.It was during this process that workmen discovered a plank in the South Sketch Gallery on which were carved, beneath layers of wallpaper, the names of three of the building’s original craftsmen, along with an account of the political battles of the day and their thoughts on the controversial Corn Laws, blamed by many for keeping the price of bread artificially high on behalf of the country’s landed gentry. One of the restored Mortlake Tapestries from the 1630s, based on Raphael’s cartoons of Acts of the Apostles On the plank Mr John Taylor of Over Hodder, Mr Thomas Wright of Beeley and S Walker of Pilsley, carved the words:“Chatsworth August 26th 1841. Parliament met on the 19th The Queen Victoria would not honour the Tories with her presence. The weather is very unfavourable for the harvest. Flour is 3/6 per stone. Joiner’s wages are 24s to 27 per week. Labourer’s wages 12s. Parliament was dissolved this summer on account of the Whigs bringing forward a measure to appeal the present system of the Corn Laws. The election is over. The Tories the majority. Trade is very dull. Many out of employ and starving.”They end with an impassioned cry:“This winter will be a severe one. So down with the Tory rascals.”Another joiner, writing on the same plank some 40 years later about the 8th Duke, who was at that time leader of the Liberal Party, says:“God bless the Duke of Devonshire, the most liberal nobleman in the kingdom – he is now in his 51st year. May he live for ever for the sake of poor people.”Adam Clarke and Luke Thomas, the joiners who discovered the plank, have added their own inscription. The current, 12th Duke of Devonshire said: “The level of forensic research, expertise and craftsmanship applied by so many people has been absolutely inspiring. It has always been a thrilling moment to see the house come into view as you drive across the park and now that view has been made even more magical. With the years of blackened grime now removed from the stone, it looks truly magnificent.” Visitors will be able to have a go at weaving, feel the materials used in the house, including stone, wood, metals and wool; and examine part of the network of pipes and conduits that run behind the walls and underneath the floors.The restoration programme has involved most of the leading British conservation studios over the past decade.Although damaged by pollution in the 19th and 20th centuries, the extremely rare 54sq m Mortlake Tapestries from the 1630s, based on Raphael’s cartoons of Acts of the Apostles, have undergone significant cleaning and repair and will be hung together in the State Drawing Room. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Visitors will be able to hear the stories of the skilled people involved in the project Credit:Simon Watkinson It is the epitome of the British stately home, built to house and entertain the Devonshire family and their aristocratic friends over the centuries.But hidden within Chatsworth House’s resplendent interiors is a series of poignant messages, carved into the woodwork by the very men who built her, protesting at the bitter hardships endured by them and their familiesThe radical messages were only discovered some 170 years on, as part of a thorough 10-year repair programme which has seen the 17th century building stripped back to its bare walls, before being painstakingly restored at a cost of £32m.Weather damage and industrial pollution over hundreds of years meant cleaning and replacingmuch of the exterior stonework, with new stone brought in from the reopened quarry that provided the materials for the building of the North Wing in the 1820s by the 6th Duke of Devonshire.
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