Meeting Royalty

English Stately Home

An idyllic setting for a stately English manner.

I’m going to tell you a story about meeting royalty.
And then I want you to think about meeting a King.

Long ago, before Downton Abbey captivated American women, my husband and I tromped around the English countryside for a few weeks. Gary was fearless driving on the wrong side of the road as I drooled over the stately homes and humble hedgerows. We both got thoroughly hooked on scones and Devonshire clotted cream!

Planning isn’t our strong suit so when we saw signs for Chatsworth House, we had no clue what we’d find at the end of the road. The house tour was great and the collection of art and furnishings dating back to 1549 was truly impressive.

But, the one thing that will forever stand out in my mind is a vivid pair of blue eyes and a modest but genuine smile.
They both belonged to the Duchess of Devonshire, but I wouldn’t find that out from her ladyship.

Duchess setting in the garden

The Duchess of Devonshire loved the gardens and the farm at Chatsworth House.

Both of my grandmothers were gardeners and from an early age I was fascinated by hydrangea, roses, and perennial borders. And in one of those strange twists our lives sometimes take, I cleaned house for the Head of Ornamental Horticulture at a University for six years. He taught me, personally taught me, how to grow almost anything. When they left for the summer to attend conferences in Holland, Japan, or the UK, I was entrusted with their 3 acre property. Returning home with thousands of rare bulbs, corms, and rhizomes, Professor Roberts and I would plant them in a sandy soil mix and wait for the green tips to make an appearance.

So when a woman, wearing wellies and the most mundane dark skirt ever, asked what I thought of the towering blue delphiniums, I thought she was another tourist with a shared love of gardening and a solid knowledge of perennial flowers tucked under her boring brown belt.

Chatting for about half an hour, she asked about my garden back home in California, and had I ever successfully rooted geraniums from a stem cutting.

We literally dished the dirt about soil and plants!

I finally excused myself and wandered into the Gift Shop thinking that’s where my husband would guess I had gone. Just inside the door a woman with a name badge asked me if I’d had a nice chat with the Duchess.
Say what? Duchess, you say? Where? The lady in the awful skirt and rubber boots?

I think that during business hours a Duchess should be required to wear a tiara or at least a name badge.

It’s all my fault really. If I’d done my homework I’d have recognized those blue eyes.
Then of course, I’d have blubbered and been self-conscious when she spoke to me. My ignorance made for a better conversation about our shared passion. Just two Land Girls exchanging opinions and sharing our green thumb experiences.

Deborah Mitford

The Duchess of Devonshire in her youth. A real beauty among the famous Mitford sisters.

For more about her family background:

Woman and chickens

The Duchess of Devonshire, now the Dowager Duchess

That’s my story of meeting royalty.
It took me unaware.

But every day I have an opportunity to meet with a King.
King is not the highest title He holds.

He is maker of all you and I will ever know.
He made each of us, growing us in secret.

And He waits to talk with each of us every day, every hour of the day.
If we think the Duchess a fascinating person, how much more Jesus Christ.

Let’s not mistake Him for the gardener as Mary Magdalene did.
We should think about the One we have the opportunity to meet.
Meeting God anytime and as often as we wish.
Now that is something to think about.


It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

  • paulfg

    “If we think the Duchess a fascinating person, how much more Jesus Christ.” – what a wonderful post! Really made me think. Thank you.

    • Kelly Grace

      Thanks Paul. Maybe I can write a sequel about ‘in my Father’s house there are many mansions’ 😀

  • psychosomaticallyinlove

    Wow! What a great story. And very funny written. Thank you for sharing! This preception of us mortal plebs from non-monarchial countries about nobility is that they are just wearing fancy clothes and nonchalantly chat away at high society venues, Whilst some of the British nobility enjoys farm work, gardening and other peasantly outdoor activities. Which is very refreshing. I like the pic of the Dutchess with the chikens, too! 🙂

    • Kelly Grace

      You’re right about how we picture them, outdated ideas derived from English novels and old movies.
      She loves her hens and made a real success of rehabilitating the farm on the estate. Hotels and restaurants associated with the estate use the produce and, ‘yikes’, the chickens 😀

  • Marissa Aschinger


  • John

    This was wonderful reading! Well done, and how completely shocked you were. The Duchess apparently is very down to Earth and real. Best post I will read all day I am sure. 🙂

    • Kelly Grace

      The next summer we took my husband’s mother to Vancouver BC and she insisted we stay at the Empress Hotel on her dime.
      As we were unloading luggage I heard a familiar voice behind me ask, “Do you like that Hartman luggage?” I turned to face Bill Daily of I Dream of Jeannie and The Bob Newhart Show.
      This time I knew who I was talking with, but I dropped the ball on the 1 yard line! I just answered his question and listened dumbly as he told me about seeing the airline baggage guys drop his Hartman luggage from 30′ onto a truck and seeing it bounce off and hit the ground. He was so frustrated when he found they’d ruined the leather straps with the glue from the tags, he went out and bought cheap duffle bags!
      I never thought to ask for an autograph or a photo of us together with my fancy luggage 😀

  • Levi Thetford

    Wonderful post. Really a great one. I’ve loved to watch Downton Abbey, but they’re nothing compared to the King of a Kings. Ever so good. Thanks!!!!

    • Kelly Grace
      Levi Thetford

      You got that right. And Downton Abbey, grand as it is, will all turn to ashes, and ‘We’ve got a mansion, just over the hilltop, in that bright land where we’ll never grow old!’

      • Levi Thetford
        Kelly Grace

        Good words and great song. You’re a dear. Grace to you!!!

  • rommel

    WHOA- moment. What an experience of a lifetime to remember. The spontaneity and your unawareness really made the difference and added to the wow factor. How nice of her to be just such casual. I don’t want to meet a king. I might steal his shiny crown and I go to jail. 😀

    • Kelly Grace

      We, your faithful WP friends, would bake you a cake with a file in it so you could escape 😉

      • rommel
        Kelly Grace

        Hmmm … well now that you said that… I just don’t trust my own instinct and vicarious attitude when it comes to something like that. But if it really does, I may have to keep my composure and steal the crown methodically. Ahihihi … ooohhh crazy talk. But you’ll never know… 😀

  • SuchATimeAsThis

    What an amazing adventure! And I love how you’ve tied it in with knowing Him!

    • Kelly Grace

      Thanks Jeb. That part just popped up as I approached the end of the story.



    • Kelly Grace

      Hi Bobbi,
      My pleasure. We’ve had some wonderful travel experiences and even though I detest packing, I always know that the adventure trumps the hassle of travel. We are off to Africa for 2 months in August. We are both Bible teachers. The travel is arduous, but the people are amazing.
      Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  • theeditorsjournal

    Nice post and I think you had the better time not feeling swayed or intimidated by titles. I also think she still looks pretty great today. 🙂

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