Behind the scenes at Britain’s grand stately homes

Duchess of Rutland, Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire
Duchess of Rutland, Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire. Photo courtesy of Belvoir Castle

We talk to the duchesses who run Belvoir Castle, Inveraray Castle, Alnwick Castle and Woburn Abbey about the realities of running a stately home in the 21st century.

Duchess of Northumberland, with dog Fuzzy, Alnwick Castle. Photo courtesy of Alnwick Castle
Duchess of Northumberland, with dog Fuzzy, Alnwick Castle. Photo courtesy of Alnwick Castle

For our full feature on duchesses, see the Sept/Oct 2015 issue of BRITAIN.

In Britain we are very proud of our stately homes and unbelievably, some of them are are still owned and occupied by the original family to whom they were bequeathed.

Among such owners are dukes; one of the best-known houses still ‘in the family’ is Chatsworth, home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The duke is one of only 24 non-royal British dukes remaining today, who sit with their duchesses one branch down from royalty on the aristocratic tree. These dukes hold titles bestowed upon their ancestors by monarchs over the centuries in recognition of devoted service.

Most dukedoms still come with large houses and land (although often far less than before) and with privilege comes a responsibility to future generations. Not only do the houses need maintaining, so do the estate farms and tenanted properties that provide many jobs and homes.

In the latest issue of BRITAIN we talk to some of the duchesses who are running some of these most exquisite stately homes.

Scroll down for photos of some of the duchesses and their homes featured

Belvoir Castle from the mausoleum, Grantham, Leicestershire. Photo courtesy of Belvoir Castle
Belvoir Castle from the mausoleum, Grantham, Leicestershire. Photo courtesy of Belvoir Castle
Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire, is the family seat of the Dukes of Rutland. Photo courtesy of Belvoir Castle
Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire, is the family seat of the Dukes of Rutland. Photo courtesy of Belvoir Castle
Duchess of Rutland, Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire
Duchess of Rutland, Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire. Photo courtesy of Belvoir Castle
Chinese Dressing Room, Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire. Credit: Neil Hoyle Photography
Chinese Dressing Room, Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire. Credit: Neil Hoyle Photography
Alnwick Castle, Northumberland. Photo courtesy of Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle, Northumberland. Photo courtesy of Alnwick Castle
The Saloon, Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
The Saloon, Alnwick Castle, Northumberland. Credit: Sean Elliot Photography
Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire. Credit: 2009 Andrew Rolfe
Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire. Credit: 2009 Andrew Rolfe
Duchess of Bedford, Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire. Credit: bridgetdavey.com
Duchess of Bedford, Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire. Credit: bridgetdavey.com
Inveraray Castle, on the shore of Loch Fyne, is the family seat of the Dukes of Argyll. Photo courtesy of Inveraray Castle
Inveraray Castle, on the shores of Loch Fyne, is the family seat of the Dukes of Argyll. Photo courtesy of Inveraray Castle
Argyll family, Inveraray Castle, Scotland. Photo courtesy of Inveraray Castle
Argyll family, Inveraray Castle, Scotland. Photo courtesy of Inveraray Castle

For more photos, interviews and the inside story on our stately homes, see the Sept/Oct 2015 issue of BRITAIN.

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