24 episodes

Welcome to Duchess - the podcast where the Duchess of Rutland explores the historic homes of Great Britain, and meets the inspiring women who lead them today.

Have you ever watched Bridgerton, The Crown or Downton Abbey and wondered what it's really like to be a Duchess? If so, this is the podcast for you.

Stately homes are manors, palaces, and castles of great historic significance. They were built by the finest architects, adorned with the finest treasures and surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. They homed the most powerful families and, with their wealth and social pedigree, shaped the world we live in today.

Emma grew up far away from the aristocracy but her life changed forever when she married her husband - the 11th Duke of Rutland - and moved into Belvoir Castle. At once Emma became both a Duchess and custodian of one of Britain's most important buildings.

The Duchess wanted to learn more about this world, these homes, and the other empowering women who, just like her, work tirelessly to ensure they see tomorrow.

In this podcast the Duchess will travel to breathtaking homes, learn the epic tales of their construction, meet the historic figures that walked their halls, hear chilling ghost stories and the heartbreaking tales of romance. All of this whilst getting to know the inspiring, powerful women that work to find the delicate balance between preservation and transformation.

Join Emma on a very special journey. This is Duchess, the podcast.

Duchess OneFinePlay

    • History
    • 4.9 • 197 Ratings

Welcome to Duchess - the podcast where the Duchess of Rutland explores the historic homes of Great Britain, and meets the inspiring women who lead them today.

Have you ever watched Bridgerton, The Crown or Downton Abbey and wondered what it's really like to be a Duchess? If so, this is the podcast for you.

Stately homes are manors, palaces, and castles of great historic significance. They were built by the finest architects, adorned with the finest treasures and surrounded by breathtaking landscapes. They homed the most powerful families and, with their wealth and social pedigree, shaped the world we live in today.

Emma grew up far away from the aristocracy but her life changed forever when she married her husband - the 11th Duke of Rutland - and moved into Belvoir Castle. At once Emma became both a Duchess and custodian of one of Britain's most important buildings.

The Duchess wanted to learn more about this world, these homes, and the other empowering women who, just like her, work tirelessly to ensure they see tomorrow.

In this podcast the Duchess will travel to breathtaking homes, learn the epic tales of their construction, meet the historic figures that walked their halls, hear chilling ghost stories and the heartbreaking tales of romance. All of this whilst getting to know the inspiring, powerful women that work to find the delicate balance between preservation and transformation.

Join Emma on a very special journey. This is Duchess, the podcast.

    Duchess, A Christmas Special from Belvoir Castle

    Duchess, A Christmas Special from Belvoir Castle

    Episode Description:
    On this very special festive episode of the podcast, our Duchess is joined by her daughter Eliza to speak about their historic home: Belvoir Castle. In the show, the Duchess reveals all about her own background, we learn about Belvoir’s ‘forbidden place’, the ladies discuss the chilling ghostly encounters they’ve had in their home, and we hear why it's so magical to spend Christmas in a castle.
    Top Quotes:
    "I've felt, from every woman I've met through making this podcast, such a great sense of passion and duty." - The Duchess
    "On that very sofa in this room, Winston Churchill was sat when he heard of King Edward VIII's abdication. Aunt Hersey always remembered the tears rolling down his cheeks." - The Duchess
    "One of the unique things that has happened with covid is that people have reconnected with their big house on the hill. We've had this huge surge in people local to us reconnecting with Belvoir again. That has been very special." - The Duchess
    "Christmas is so magical here because Belvoir is a party place. So, on occasions when you have the castle full of friends and family, it really twinkles." - The Duchess
    About the Stately Home:
    Belvoir Castle is a 16,000-acre estate in Leicestershire, it’s history dates back to the 11th century in 1067. Crowning a hill, the Castle’s turrets and towers rise over the Vale of Belvoir. Belvoir Estate has been passed down through 36 successive generations and an unbroken line of Dukes of Rutland for nearly 1000 years. James Wyatt, the iconic architect, designed the remodelled Castle built between 1801-1832 for the 5th Duke and Duchess of Rutland. Today, Belvoir Castle is said to be one of the finest examples of Regency architecture globally. In addition, the gardens have undergone several major changes over the centuries – the latest being a two-year restoration programme by the present Duchess to bring the lost plans of Capability Brown to fruition in 2016.
    About the Host:
    Emma Rutland, The Duchess of Rutland, did not always stride the halls of stately homes. Born Emma Watkins, the Duchess grew up the daughter of a Quaker farmer, in the Welsh marsh countryside. She trained as an opera singer in the Guildhall School of Music, and worked as a successful interior designer before meeting her future husband David Manners, the 11th Duke of Rutland, at a dinner party. Their marriage in 1992 would transform Emma Watkins into the 11th Duchess of Rutland, thrusting her into the world of aristocracy, and handing her the responsibility of one of the nation's great treasures: Belvoir Castle. While simultaneously running the day to day operations of the castle, and raising five children, The Duchess became fascinated with the history and importance of the other stately homes of the UK. Join The Duchess as she embarks on a wonderful journey through time, to learn more about the incredible homes that have defined Great Britain and, most importantly, meet the other extraordinary women who work tirelessly behind their doors to preserve their history and magic for future generations.
    Resources:
    https://www.onefineplay.com/ (https://www.onefineplay.com/)
    https://www.belvoircastle.com/ (https://www.belvoircastle.com/)
    https://www.emmaduchessrutland.com/ (https://www.emmaduchessrutland.com/)

    • 40 min
    Lady Karen Spencer of Althorp House

    Lady Karen Spencer of Althorp House

    Episode Description:
    In the final episode of season 2, The Duchess of Rutland meets Lady Karen Spencer of the historic Althorp House. In the episode, we are introduced to the many extraordinary women in the Spencer family, Lady Karen regales some of the ghostly activity they have experienced in the home, and the ladies muse over their shared love of cows!
    Top Quotes:
    "It takes a long time to understand these houses. I think the danger in a place like this is to come in and change things without taking the time to really understand the history that came before it and the more I learn the more reverence I have." - Lady Spencer
    "Some of these places are very old fashioned and some of the people working in them are very old fashioned. So it took a bit of rejigging to make sure we had the right team that were prepared for a modern working couple who make decisions together." - Lady Spencer
    "Being in heritage has taught me patience." - Lady Spencer
    "Understanding why a home is built the way it is is so key because then you get under the skin of it. Then it's no longer your ego dictating what you do - the house almost talks to you with its own voice." - The Duchess
    About the Guest and Stately Home:
    Lady Karen Spencer is a Canadian social entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Whole Child International, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that works to improve the quality of care for vulnerable children. In June 2011, she married Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer at Althorp - the brother of Princess Diana.
    Althorp House is a 13,000-acre home and has been the residence of the Spencers since 1508. The current Earl Charles was raised on the estate as well as her sister Princess Diana - who was also buried on the grounds. Althorp House is a Grade I listed stately home consisting of 90 rooms. The grounds of Althorp Estate also contain 28 listed buildings and structures, including nine planting stones. The Second Earl of Sunderland (Robert Spencer) brought in an Italian architect to remake Althorp in a grand classical style, replacing the brick with Weldon stone, and adding Corinthian and Composite columns. Andre Le Notre, the architect of Versailles, also designed the gardens in formal style. One of its most impressive original features, its 115-foot picture gallery, is untouched and retains its Tudor wood panelling to this day. There’s an impressive collection of art for their home, including Van Dyck's War and Peace, a John de Critz portrait of King James I and works by Lely. There is also an extensive exhibition devoted to the memory of Princess Diana. The exhibition has been spread across 6 rooms of a converted stable block and depicts Diana's childhood, her royal wedding to Prince Charles, her charitable work, and her considerable influence on fashion and style.
    About the Host:
    Emma Rutland, The Duchess of Rutland, did not always stride the halls of stately homes. Born Emma Watkins, the Duchess grew up the daughter of a Quaker farmer, in the Welsh marsh countryside. She trained as an opera singer in the Guildhall School of Music, and worked as a successful interior designer before meeting her future husband David Manners, the 11th Duke of Rutland, at a dinner party. Their marriage in 1992 would transform Emma Watkins into the 11th Duchess of Rutland, thrusting her into the world of aristocracy, and handing her the responsibility of one of the nation's great treasures: Belvoir Castle. While simultaneously running the day to day operations of the castle, and raising five children, The Duchess became fascinated with the history and importance of the other stately homes of the UK. Join The Duchess as she embarks on a wonderful journey through time, to learn more about the incredible homes that have defined Great Britain and, most importantly, meet the other extraordinary women who work tirelessly behind their doors to preserve their history and magic for future generations.
    Resources:
    To find out more about our

    • 38 min
    Lady Northampton of Compton Wynyates

    Lady Northampton of Compton Wynyates

    Episode Description:
    On this week’s episode, the Duchess of Rutland speaks with Lady Northampton who is a custodian of two historic homes: Compton Wynyates and Castle Ashby. In the show, the Duchess learns how one of Henry’s VIII’s closest confidants helped build the Spencer family line, Lady Northampton elaborates on why Compton Wynyates is such an architecturally unique place, and we are introduced to the unpublished female poet that was admired by Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott.
    Top Quotes:
    "I'm very keen on creating a harmonious atmosphere in these incredible places. I like to think that I create an atmosphere at Compton where the staff and team there feel like we are all part of one family." - Lady Tracy Northampton
    "In heritage, it's so integral that you retain the essence of what you are, what you believe in, what you stand for. If you lose your roots as a human being you can't fulfil the role because the role is not true to who you are." - The Duchess of Rutland
    "When you look at some of these portraits they seem so austere and fixed and far away from how we are now. But they have a soul." - The Duchess of Rutland
    About the Guest and Stately Home:
    Lady Tracy Northampton is a trained psychotherapist and yoga teacher. She married her husband, Spencer Compton, 7th Marquess of Northampton in 2013. The couple live full time in Compton Wynyates which is an extremely well preserved Tudor Mansion. Unlike all other homes in the series, Compton Wynyates is not open to the public.
    Compton Wynyates is a Tudor country house in Warwickshire, England, a Grade I listed building. The Tudor period house is constructed of red brick and built around a central courtyard. Compton House was erected by Sir William Compton c1520, allegedly on the site of an earlier Tudor building. The early 16th century house is now considered one of the best examples of the picturesque irregular Early Tudor style in England. In 1572, Elizabeth I stayed in the house. In 1617 James I spent a night at the house. Compton was also visited by Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon during the early years of the king’s reign. Over the entrance the Royal Arms of England are supported by the dragon and greyhound of Henry VII and Henry VIII. Today, Compton is the home of Lady Tracy and Spencer Compton. In the nearby village, the couple have a pub-hotel called The Falcon they own and run together. Wynates is the birthplace and burial place of Spencer Compton, 1st Earl of Wilmington, considered to be the second Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Compton Wynyates was also the inspiration for Croft Manor in the Tomb Raider series.
    About the Host:
    Emma Rutland, The Duchess of Rutland, did not always stride the halls of stately homes. Born Emma Watkins, the Duchess grew up the daughter of a Quaker farmer, in the Welsh marsh countryside. She trained as an opera singer in the Guildhall School of Music, and worked as a successful interior designer before meeting her future husband David Manners, the 11th Duke of Rutland, at a dinner party. Their marriage in 1992 would transform Emma Watkins into the 11th Duchess of Rutland, thrusting her into the world of aristocracy, and handing her the responsibility of one of the nation's great treasures: Belvoir Castle. While simultaneously running the day to day operations of the castle, and raising five children, The Duchess became fascinated with the history and importance of the other stately homes of the UK. Join The Duchess as she embarks on a wonderful journey through time, to learn more about the incredible homes that have defined Great Britain and, most importantly, meet the other extraordinary women who work tirelessly behind their doors to preserve their history and magic for future generations.
    Resources:
    To find out more about our sponsor CircleDNA, visit their website https://circledna.com/en-us/ (here)
    To learn more about Abercrombie and Kent, visit their website https://www.abercrombiekent.co.uk/ (here)...

    • 37 min
    Catherine Fitzgerald of Glin Castle

    Catherine Fitzgerald of Glin Castle

    Episode Description:
    On this week’s special episode, the Duchess of Rutland speaks to Catherine Fitzgerald of Glin Castle in Ireland. In the show, Catherine regales some of the wonderful and amusing legends associated with her family, we catch a glimpse of the ghosts of Glin, and Catherine opens about the unexpected nature of her custodianship.
    Top Quotes:
    "Glin Castle is part of an architectural golden period in Ireland. It was built when most of Georgian Dublin was built. There was a surge in building, decoration, and the arts. Glin is part of a moment of optimism." — Catherine
    "I was never brought up to take Glin Castle on. My father thought he would leave it to a preservation trust but they weren't able to take it on. So, it was really my passion, my love for it, that drove my decision to take Glin Castle off the market." - Catherine
    "As a custodian, I'm not looking to control the future I'm just thinking about day to day and how I can take care of it."- Catherine
    "What I'm trying to do with Glin is to make it self sustainable and self supporting. I want to create an estate that can go into the future and is secure." - Catherine
    "[To be a custodian] is a type of artistic endeavour. As well as a sense of responsibility. And a sense of love for the beauty of the place in a world where there is so much destruction." - Catherine
    About the Guest and Stately Home:
    Catherine Fitzgerald is an Irish landscape designer and gardener who is also a member of the FitzGerald ‘dynasty’: An historic, aristocratic Anglo-Hiberno family based in Ireland. She is the daughter of Desmond FitzGerald, 29th and last Knight of Glin. Catherine married her current husband, actor Dominic West, in 2010 and the couple now live on the estate. Today, Catherine runs Glin Castle as an events venue.
    Glin Castle is a Georgian country house and national heritage site located along the River Shannon in Glin, County Limerick, Ireland. The castle has belonged to the FitzMaurice/FitzGerald family for over 700 years and was the seat of the Knights of Glin. In the 14th century the Lord of Desmond elevated an illegitimate son to the hereditary knighthood of Glin. He built Glin Castle, which became the permanent seat of the Knights of Glin. The Knights are associated with a number of well known legends and myths and the family has remained politically and culturally a hugely significant family in Irish society. When John Bateman FitzGerald, 23rd Knight of Gli, married Margaretta Maria Fraunceis Gwyn in the 1780s he used her dowry to build a new home in the current Georgian style. Neo-classical elements were added to the building later and the new house would eventually boast delicate plasterwork ceilings, Corinthian columns, and an elegant flying staircase lit by a beautiful Venetian window.
    About the Host:
    Emma Rutland, The Duchess of Rutland, did not always stride the halls of stately homes. Born Emma Watkins, the Duchess grew up the daughter of a Quaker farmer, in the Welsh marsh countryside. She trained as an opera singer in the Guildhall School of Music, and worked as a successful interior designer before meeting her future husband David Manners, the 11th Duke of Rutland, at a dinner party. Their marriage in 1992 would transform Emma Watkins into the 11th Duchess of Rutland, thrusting her into the world of aristocracy, and handing her the responsibility of one of the nation's great treasures: Belvoir Castle. While simultaneously running the day to day operations of the castle, and raising five children, The Duchess became fascinated with the history and importance of the other stately homes of the UK. Join The Duchess as she embarks on a wonderful journey through time, to learn more about the incredible homes that have defined Great Britain and, most importantly, meet the other extraordinary women who work tirelessly behind their doors to preserve their history and magic for future generations.
    Resources:
    To find out more about our...

    • 35 min
    Julie Montagu of Mapperton House & Gardens

    Julie Montagu of Mapperton House & Gardens

    Episode Description:
    This time on Duchess, our host the Duchess of Rutland meets with Julie Montagu online to talk about her historic home - Mapperton House and Gardens. In the episode, Julie details how the Montagu’s invented the sandwich, the Duchess is taken through Mapperton’s beautiful interiors, and the ladies discuss the exciting re-wilding projects that are being initiated on the estate.

    Top Quotes:
    "David Attenborough said we must re-wild the world and, at Mapperton House with our re-wilding projects, we very much took that to heart. We decided to give this back to nature. In one sense, we're trying in our own way to revive it." - Julie Montagu
    "We are not just custodians of the house; we're custodians of the land that surrounds it." - Duchess
    "My mother and father in law have embraced me for my American ways. I haven't had to change my accent, or who I am. I have never had to give up the American in me. I have been able to really bring that into the house." - Julie
    "My advice to Americans entering heritage is to stay true to yourself. Embrace the history. Embrace the differences but ultimately remember that it's your happiness that's the most important." - Julie Montagu
    About the Guest and Stately Home:
    Julie Fisher was brought up in Sugar Grove, Illinois. Upon moving in the mid 2000s, Julie would meet her future husband, Luke Montagu, Viscount of Hinchingbrooke, in 2003. The couple would marry and move into Mapperton House. Julie presented the tv series “an American Aristocrats Guide to Great Estates” where she visited many historic homes across the UK and discovered what makes them such important sites in the history of Great Britain. Julie is also a yoga teacher and enthusiast and regularly Instagram's herself practising in her home and estate.
    Mapperton house has been the home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich since the 1950s, when they moved from their ancestral home, Hinchingbrooke House. Previously, Mapperton belonged to four families – the Bretts, Morgans, Brodrepps and Comptons – until it was bought in 1919 by Mrs Ethel Labouchere. Since her death in 1955 it has been the home of the Montagus. Mapperton was entered in the Domesday Book 1086 as Malperetone. It was then the property of William de Moion, Sheriff of Somerset. Robert Morgan and his wife Mary, would build the 16th century house in the 1540s. One of the notable characteristics of Mapperton is the extraordinarily detailed interiors. Upstairs in the Great Chamber is a remarkable 16th-century pendant ceiling, one of the best surviving examples anywhere in a domestic setting. The Entrance Hall includes a striking coat of arms, and in the adjacent Dining Room, to fine 18th-century panelling. The Sandwich art collection includes fine paintings by Lely, Reynolds and Hogarth.
    About the Host:
    Emma Rutland, The Duchess of Rutland, did not always stride the halls of stately homes. Born Emma Watkins, the Duchess grew up the daughter of a Quaker farmer, in the Welsh marsh countryside. She trained as an opera singer in the Guildhall School of Music, and worked as a successful interior designer before meeting her future husband David Manners, the 11th Duke of Rutland, at a dinner party. Their marriage in 1992 would transform Emma Watkins into the 11th Duchess of Rutland, thrusting her into the world of aristocracy, and handing her the responsibility of one of the nation's great treasures: Belvoir Castle. While simultaneously running the day to day operations of the castle, and raising five children, The Duchess became fascinated with the history and importance of the other stately homes of the UK. Join The Duchess as she embarks on a wonderful journey through time, to learn more about the incredible homes that have defined Great Britain and, most importantly, meet the other extraordinary women who work tirelessly behind their doors to preserve their history and magic for future generations.
    Resources:
    To find out more about our...

    • 36 min
    Imogen Wyvill of Constable Burton Hall & Garden

    Imogen Wyvill of Constable Burton Hall & Garden

    Episode Description:
    In today’s show, the Duchess visits the beautiful Constable Burton Hall and Gardens to meet the current chatelaine, Imogen Wyvill. In the episode, Imogen introduces the Duchess to the chess grand master who courted Florence Nightingale, we learn about the Wyvill family’s important hand in the abolition of slavery, and the ladies discuss the famed and fabulous Tulip festival that is hosted at Constable Burton annually.
    Top Quotes:
    "Living in homes like these, you fall in love with them everyday through the eyes of your visitors." - Imogen Wyvill
    "The wonderful thing about Constable Burton is that it does have this very warm homely feel to it. It embraces you." - Imogen
    "The past year perhaps has helped us realise to keep life a little simpler. And actually it's a reconnection to the love affair with the British Isles." - Imogen
    About the Guest and Stately Home:
    Imogen Wyvill, nee Garner, is married to Marmaduke D'Arcy William Wyvill, son of Marmaduke Charles Asty Wyvill and Margaret Ann Hardcastle. The couple have two children together. Constable Burton has been home to the Wyvill family for over four -and-a-half centuries. The Wyvills are descended from an unbroken line that stretches back to 1066 when Sir Humphrey de Wyvill was Companion in Arms to William the Conqueror.
    Constable Burton Hall is a grade I-listed Georgian mansion in North Yorkshire, that is privately owned by the Wyvill family. The Hall is a handsome Palladian villa designed by the celebrated architect John Carr for Sir Marmaduke Wyvill, and completed in 1768. It is widely recognised as one of the finest medium-sized English houses built in the Palladian style. In 1520, Constable Burton passed first to Sir Ralph Fitz-Randolph, knight, of Spennithorne, and then to Marmaduke Wyvill who married the youngest daughter, Alice, and received this manor with other estates for her share. The Hall is also surrounded by breathtaking gardens and there’s a well known Tulip Festival held annually on the estate.
    About the Host:
    Emma Rutland, The Duchess of Rutland, did not always stride the halls of stately homes. Born Emma Watkins, the Duchess grew up the daughter of a Quaker farmer, in the Welsh marsh countryside. She trained as an opera singer in the Guildhall School of Music, and worked as a successful interior designer before meeting her future husband David Manners, the 11th Duke of Rutland, at a dinner party. Their marriage in 1992 would transform Emma Watkins into the 11th Duchess of Rutland, thrusting her into the world of aristocracy, and handing her the responsibility of one of the nation's great treasures: Belvoir Castle. While simultaneously running the day to day operations of the castle, and raising five children, The Duchess became fascinated with the history and importance of the other stately homes of the UK. Join The Duchess as she embarks on a wonderful journey through time, to learn more about the incredible homes that have defined Great Britain and, most importantly, meet the other extraordinary women who work tirelessly behind their doors to preserve their history and magic for future generations.
    Resources:
    To find out more about our sponsor CircleDNA, visit their website https://circledna.com/en-us/ (here)
    https://www.onefineplay.com/ (https://www.onefineplay.com/)
    https://www.belvoircastle.com/ (https://www.belvoircastle.com/)
    https://www.emmaduchessrutland.com/ (https://www.emmaduchessrutland.com/)
    https://www.constableburton.com/ (https://www.constableburton.com/)

    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
197 Ratings

197 Ratings

Sarah - Peds RN in AZ ,

Absolutely charming

I would begin by concurring with other reviewers that not only is this podcast informative and inspiring, but it is incredibly calming. Hearing these charming ladies describe places that I can only hope to visit one day is soothing to my soul. This podcast has quickly become one of my favorites.

Erinello ,

Soothing to listen to

If you’re having a stressful day, I feel like this podcast is the antidote. It’s a gentle, lovely escape from the ugliness of the news and social media. I really enjoy learning about the history of the estates and lifestyles of people that are so different from my own life.

Melibchica ,

Love this podcast!

I’ve been listening since the beginning. I love the history and stories about the houses and all the details of what life is really like living in a historical house. I’d love to hear more of the interviews. My only complaint is that the episodes aren’t longer! 🙂

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