This March, Sotheby’s, London, will be auctioning items belonging to
Born into English society as the youngest of the Mitford Sisters, Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire was unfailingly elegant yet down-to-earth. This March, Sotheby’s will offer more than 450 objects from her personal collection, including jewellery, works by artist friends like Lucian Freud, family photos and charming hen-related objects.
I admit here that I have always had a special affinity for this Duchess, as for her predecessor, Georgiana.
Both women lead spectacular lives, albeit for different reasons, but each was a star in her own right. I believe that their connections to Chatsworth House adds to my affections, as Chatsworth remains my personal favourite Stately Home.
Still, you have to admire Deborah Mitford, who grew up in a stellar family and who married a minor member of the aristocracy, who ascended to the dukedom when his elder brother was killed in WWII. Through it all, the Duchess remained Debo to all – her down to earth, get it done mindset allowed her and the Duke to pull Chatsworth from the brink of bankruptcy and turn it into the most successful of British estates and a model for other members of the peerage who afterwards opened their own homes to the public. Through it all, the Duchess remained true to herself and to her love of country pursuits, including her involvemet in championing many breeds of British livestock, including her beloved hens, which can still be seen at Chatsworth. The Duchess was also an ardent fan of Elvis Presley.
Deborah would never have become Duchess had the Duke’s elder brother, William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, who was married to Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, sister to the President, not died before him. You can read more about that chapter of Chatsworth history here.
For more background on Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire and the auction, you will find the article from the Daily Mail here.
And you will find a slideshow of limited items from the Sotheby’s sale on their website here.