Back on November 10th, the Duchess was in NYC promoting this new book and had a do at The Frick called, Fizz and Sparkle: The Effervescent Life of Deborah, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire.
I had this event in my calendar for ages. I have been a huge fan of hers for years. One because she adores chickens and two because she lived in and restored Chatsworth, one of England's greatest houses. Of course since she is a Mitford sister that helped too.
Going through piles of books a week before Rod found a book entitled, The Duchess of Devonshire's Ball, a book about a grand ball given by a former Duchess of Devonshire for Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1897. It was a DOOZY. I tucked it into my Filson and read it all over town and frankly forgot I even had it with my that day.
When the lecture was over I was dashing out the door and noticed the Duchess quietly sitting in the winter garden at a table waiting to sign books. But all these neds were so fixated on the free wine they didn't notice her. I pondered buying the book ( I already had it on Kindle) but then realized I had the Ball book. Hark!
I moseyed over to her table and pulled it out for her to sign.
"Good Heavens Charlotte! Look what this dear boy brought us," the Duchess exclaimed.
"Whatever is it?" Charlotte asked busily.
"Oh my well it's my daughter Sophie's book she wrote ages ago! Oh dear you do have a rare book on your hands." She said at me with a smile, peering over her glasses that were so thick they could fry an ant in China.
With that she signed it and bid me adieu. By then the line was snaking around marble busts, ferns and fountains but I was merrily finished.
I have gotten ahead of myself. The whole point of this post was supposed to be what I learned from the Duchess' lecture.
Here we go:
- First off it was pointed out by Colin (from the Frick who introduced the ladies) that the chairs they would be sitting in were actually bought by Henry Frick from the 9th Duke of Devonshire so they had come full circle.
- The Kennedy's were great friends of hers and when they arrived in London in 1938 with nine kids they caused a sensation
- Rose Kennedy had the best body in London!
- Catherine 'Kick' Kennedy was her closest friend and married her husbands older brother who was supposed to be the next Duke but was killed in WW II.
- There is a secret door in the library at Chatsworth and the only way you know it's there is by the names of the fake books adorning it such as E. Motion, A study of Feelings, D. Motion, The Study of War and Nik Nak by Patty Wak.
- In Tearing Haste, is how she signed off many a letter
- On a visit to the Royal Family at Sandringham she noticed a hoof of a prize winning horse on her bedside table. She turned it over to see if it had a golden shoe and red inked spilled all over the carpet. Luckily it was removed when she came back from dinner.
- Her sister Nancy Mitford was quite the embroider to say the least, but she portrayed their father perfectly.
- What does she look forward most now that she is 90? An empty appointment book!
And here is a dreamy interview with the Dowager Duchess reflecting on her fizzy life.