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The 6th Duke

The 6th Duke, the ‘Bachelor’ Duke (1790-1858), was Duchess Georgina’s only son and succeeded his father at the age of 21. Extravagant and charming, he was a price of hosts. He never married but loved entertaining his friends and spent 47 years improving his many houses and collecting objects of every kind with which to embellish them. He bought two complete libraries, many paintings and sculptures and a great deal more besides. He engaged the architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville (1766-1840) to build the long North Wing at Chatsworth. Later, Lismore Castle in County Waterford was rebuilt too. Such expenditure taxed even his resources and he was forced to sell property in Yorkshire, including most of the town of Wetherby and his estate at Londesborough.

He became intensely interested in gardening after he met Joseph Paxton (1803-65), ayoung gardener working in the Horticultural Society’s gardens at Chiswick which adjoined the Duke’s land there. He appointed Paxton to be head gardener at Chatsworth in 1826 and together they changed the garden into the one you see today. Expeditions were sent to the Americas and the Far East to collect plants, giant rookeries were introduced and the ‘Conservative Wall’ glasshouse was built. Paxton designed and constructed the Emperor Fountain, the jest in the Canal Pond which can reach over 280 feet on a calm day. It was an engineering feat which entailed draining the moor into an eight acre man-made reservoir on the high ground above the house (1844). The whole of this ambitious scheme was completed in six months.

However, the most famous of Paxton’s achievements was the building of the Great Conservatory, constructed in wood, iron and glass and covering three-quarters of an acre. It was the forerunner of the Crystal Palace, which he built for the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park. Sadly, the Great Conservatory became derelict during the First World War and was demolished soon after.

The 6th Duke died in 1858. He was succeeded by William Cavendish, 2nd Earl of Burlington of the second creation (1808-91), the grandson of the 6th Duke’s uncle Lord George Cavendish.

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