Dowager Duchess of Devonshire
and a few friends
I was quite distraught to hear of the death last week of Deborah, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. She was 94. Her funeral was held this morning following a procession, which included Prince Charles, that began at Chatsworth House, the stately home that she and her husband turned into one of the most popular of tourist attractions in England with its gardens, farm, stables, and gift shop.
Members of Chatworth's staff, 600 in all and dressed in traditional livery, lined the mile-long route from the house to the church. She was buried in the family plot in Edenson's village cemetery in Derbyshire.
Her coffin was made of wicker.
I read that she had once attended the funeral of a friend who was buried in a wicker coffin. She liked the idea so much that she decided that's what she wanted saying it reminded her of "a picnic basket."
Wicker coffin of the Dowager Duchess
Photo credit: Max Mumby
the Daily Mail
She was a great fan of chickens and Elvis Presley. How could you not love a woman like that?
The Duchess was also was a fine writer and memoirist. One of my favorite books of hers is Counting My Chickens...And Other Home Thoughts. It is a collection of essays and excerpts from her diaries and other writings. She writes that her favorite author and artist was Beatrix Potter. She claims she learned all about retailing from reading Ms. Potter's The Tale of Ginger and Pickles. I wrote about all this here early last year.
The Dowager Duchess wrote other books that contained her thoughts on country living: Home to Roost and All in One Basket; her memoirs Wait For Me!; a cookbook; and two books about Chatsworth. In Tearing Haste is the collection of her correspondence with writer Patrick Leigh Fermor.
How fortunate we are that Our Dowager Duchess left so much behind to remember her by.