Here is my Christmas card for you – my three “Christmas Crackers” – to say thank you for being with me this year.
During my tenure as Head of Retail for the Royal Collection, I was fortunate enough to spend quality time with the late Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire, who, with her husband, Andrew, the 11th Duke, set the standard for historic houses open to the public.
The youngest of the legendary Mitford sisters, “Debo”, as she was known, was a visionary with an eye for detail, a passion for quality and the most wonderful sense of humour. “To me, the most fascinating part of retailing,” she once said, “is seeing what people want, and to be able to up the taste a bit, instead of dumbing it down.” She also said that Beatrix Potter’s “The Tale of Ginger & Pickles”, concerning the failure of a dog and a cat to run a village shop on unlimited credit, was “The best book on retailing ever written.”
This year, Christmas at Chatsworth (“with Mr Toad”) owes much to Debo’s philosophy.