It might have been a protocol blunder of imperial proportions, but then it tells you much about the man almost responsible for it. And so it was that when the high-spending William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, thought Tsar Nicholas would visit his Chatsworth domain in 1844, he commissioned Joseph Paxton to build the world’s tallest fountain; this to outdo both Chatsworth’s existing Great Fountain (then the tallest in Britain) and the Tsar’s own grandest fountain at his Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg. So: a back-handed sort of honouring, and I wonder how the Tsar would have taken this spectacle of extravagant one-upmanship: smiling through gritted teeth perhaps?
He anyway did not come, although the fountain was named ‘the Emperor’ to mark the non-occasion. The jet has been known to reach nearly 300 feet, although it was ‘turned down’ on the day I took this photo due to high wind.
For more about Chatsworth and a small family connection see my earlier post To Chatsworth and how Mary Ann went to the ball
Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: fountains and sprinklers
28 thoughts on “A Fountain Fit For A Tsar…?”
Ah! Chatsworth was virtually our ‘back yard’ when we lived in Sheffield, and I miss it, so thanks for this visit. I have however never seen that jet doing anything remarkable.
A fair-weather fountain, methinks. It is a lovely spot. Though have a resistance to outrageous display as financed by many generations of my farming and leadmining ancestors.
Of course! But we have to know our place.
men and their egos lol
Indeed, Mak. They have a lot to answer for.
But at least this was a harmless one. Most of the time it doesn’t end too well
Well, Mak, I agree that a fountain can be very pleasing and pretty harmless. But then who was paying for the extravagance – the rents from his tenant farmers and a significantly valuable cut of smallholder lead miners’ very dangerous delving pursuits.
Now you mention that, there is indeed harm done
Now that is a FOUNTAIN of fountains. 😀 😀
Thank you, Cee 🙂
Still a spectacle for the ages, Tish, no matter how it came about.
Sepia gives an interesting feel to your photo, Tish. (In a good way.). 😉
So much interesting history from the past Tish
Yes, Pauline, and much of it might also open our eyes to the present 🙂
I am smiling at the tsar’s non-visit. At least England has lots of water, though I’m sure the pump must have been quite an extravagance. I agree with some of the “men” comments. My former (male) boss worded the phenomenon crudely when he called the upmanship men use to show their authority or superiority over each other “weenie wagging.” Appropriate that the duke competed over a spurt of water. Great picture – great story, Tish
‘weenie wagging’ and ‘spurt of water’ competition! You made me laugh, Marsha.
I probably should be vulgar, but I couldn’t resist the comparison! Have a great Sunday, Tish.
I think you hit the mark, Marsha 🙂
Well thanks, Tish. 🙂
I suppose the fountain was an interesting investment, even without the arrival of the Tsar. That’s one heck of a tall spout of water. I bet with even a mild breeze, everyone gets wet. Nice in the summer, maybe not so great in winter. 💦
I guess a strange show of power and keeping up with the tsars must have its downfalls!
‘Keeping up with the tsars’ – That raised a welcome chuckle. Thank you.
In order to build the fountain the duke had to use a lot of Cavendish pipes! 😞
🙂 🙂 🙂