Although the country houses are often impressive in themselves there is always heightened interest when they are associated with a grand title. Unfortunately the 12th Duke of Devonshire, in an article in today’s Sunday Times magazine, believes that the concept of aristocracy is dead and that if the current government succeed in removing the last remaining hereditary peers he will take this as a sign from the public and would be willing to give up his own.
To me this seems very sad as his own title comes with 300 years of history and in some ways it’s not his to declaim as his heirs may be willing to keep it going. The family seat of Chatworth in Derbyshire is synonymous with the Devonshire title following the recent films and books and to lose it is as much a commercial loss as it is one of heritage. Perhaps he might consider just not using it and placing it in abeyance until his death and then it can be used or not as his son wishes. I can’t believe that the current legislation is a fair reflection of the will of the people who generally have a greater respect for the nations heritage and traditions than those currently in charge.
Full story: ‘Aristocracy is dead, says Chatsworth’s duke‘ [Sunday Times]
Update issued on behalf of the Duke of Devonshire [22 Feb 2010]
Further to reports in the press I would like to clarify my position on the use of the Devonshire title. Should hereditary peers be removed from the House of Lords I would indeed strongly consider dropping the public use of my title, as I believe that I would have to consider and respond to any future democratic mandate against hereditary peerage. However, my principle duty will continue to be to preserve and enhance Chatsworth itself for future generations and I remain immensely respectful of my Devonshire predecessors who have bequeathed us this very special place.
The Duke of Devonshire, KVCO, CVE, DL
Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire”