Chatsworth owner wins world heritage award

THE Duke of Devonshire has been presented with the prestigious 2012 Watch Award by the World Monuments Fund.

The award which recognises significant achievement in heritage preservation.

The accolade presented in New York comes after the Duke has devoted the past six years to the renovation of Chatsworth House, which his family has owned since 1549.

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The programme of major restoration began in 2007 with the repair and cleaning of the Inner Court and the north front of the house.

Earlier this year scaffolding was removed to reveal gleaming stonework, repaired carvings and 24-carat gold gilding on the south and west fronts, restoring the house to its original glory.

Work is expected to continue for a number of years.

The World Monuments Fund is the leading independent organisation devoted to saving the world’s most treasured places.

At a awards gala ceremony on Fifth Avenue in New York, special tribute was paid to the duke for “the complicated planning and engineering of a comprehensive masterplan which has restored the house, created new galleries to show the great Old Master drawings... and a restored neo-classical sculpture gallery”.

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On receiving the award, the duke said it was “extraordinary” that the house, with its garden and park had all survived and “indeed are now facing the future with more confidence, more certainty than at any time since the middle of the 19th century”.

“Most of the credit for this recovery belongs to my parents Andrew and Debo,” he said.

“Thanks to their energy, imagination and a healthy dose of stubbornness over a tenure of 50 years they turned a sad and decrepit old place into a destination which three-quarters of a million people enjoy visiting every year.”

The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire launched the restoration project following a review of the building’s structure.

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The project set out to realise the aim of the Devonshire family and Chatsworth House Trust – the independent charity which looks after the house, collection, garden, farmyard and park – to safeguard Chatsworth’s heritage and its tradition of innovation.

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