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Chatsworth Theatre

Chatsworth House Theatre

Chatsworth Theatre, formerly the Ballroom, was designed by Sir Jeffry Wyatville for the 6th Duke of Devonshire in 1832. The ceiling is decorated with late 17th century painted panels by Sir James Thornhill and Louis Cheron. The panels were taken from the 1st Duke’s Long Gallery and adjacent Little Dining Room. The two theatre boxes and gallery above are part of the original furnishing of the Ballroom. One was used by Queen Victoria when she attended a ball there in 1843. The room was subsequently used for entertainment of various kinds for the family.

In 1896, the 8th Duke commissioned William Hemsley, a leading London designer and supplier of ‘theatrical scenery and appliances’ to transform the Ballroom into a Theatre. He provided a permanent stage, stage equipment, a painted proscenium arch, front drop curtain, and a number of sets. Most of these remain and are extremely rare survivors of late-19th century scenery. 

Between 1898 and 1907 the Theatre was dubbed the ‘Theatre Royal’ because it was used so often during the winter visits of the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) with performances of plays, dance, and music.

Above the theatre is the Belvedere or roof tower, which has a magnificent view over the house and grounds. It has also recently been renovated and can now be viewed.

From 1989 to 2005, the room was used for textile conservation but since 2007 it has been opened for performances of the Chatsworth Players twice a year.

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