Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire

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Today marks the centenary of the Birth of Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, who was born on this day in 1920! The sixth daughter of David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale and Sydney Bowles, she was the youngest of the infamous Mitford sisters, prominent figures in British Society in the interwar era, and grew up at Asthall Manor and later at Swinbrook House, educated at home and involved in traditional aristocratic country pursuits. In 1941, the Hon. Deborah Freeman-Mitford married Lord Andrew Cavendish, younger son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire, and Lord and Lady Andrew had three surviving children: the 12th Duke of Devonshire, Lady Emma Tennant, and Lady Sophia Topley. Lord Andrew became the heir to the Dukedom after his older brother, the Marquess of Hartington, was killed in action in 1944, eventually becoming the 11th Duke of Devonshire in 1950. The Duke inherited enormous death duties and had to sell quite a few assets, with one of the family houses, Compton Place being lent to a school while another, Hardwick Hall, was transferred to the National Trust in lieu of tax. However, the family maintained residences at Bolton Abbey and Lismore Castle, though they didn’t take up residence at the magnificent Chatsworth House, the family seat, until 1959. The Duchess was the main public face of Chatsworth for many decades, playing a key role in the restoration of the house, the enhancement of the garden and the development of the Chatsworth Farm Shop, making the ‘Palace of the Peaks’ into a major tourist site. Despite being the chatelaine of six magnificent Stately Homes, the Duchess still put down ‘housewife’ as her occupation. In 1999, the Duchess was appointed a Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order for her service to the Royal Collection Trust, and after being widowed in 2004, the Dowager Duchess released her memoir ‘Wait for Me!… Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister’, and was a frequent figure in the society up until her death in 2014, at the age of 94.

Duchess of Devonshire’s Tiaras | Devonshire Parure

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One thought on “Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire

  1. Infamous is the perfect word when talking about the Duchess’ siblings. Deborah Devonshire and her sister Patricia were the only ones who weren’t on the opposite side of good taste and morality, and this includes their parents. Anti-semitism and all sorts of unsavory associations sprinkle her family with undesirable qualities. I often wonder at how come she turned out so “normal”!

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