One of the many passions and pursuits of Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire, was tending to her beloved hens, which she began raising as a child. Her books All in One Basket, Counting My Chickens and Home to Roost gathered extracts from her diaries and other writings to paint a picture of her life at Chatsworth – with many anecdotes about her hens. “In middle age, when looking after my own chickens was too complicated,” the Duchess wrote, “I gathered together pottery and china hens and ducks. They are less trouble than the live kind and are ever-present in my bedroom and sitting room.” Click ahead to see some of the poultry-themed lots from the Duchess’s collection.
Opening Image: The Duchess feeds the chickens at Chatsworth House. Credit: Christopher Simon Sykes.