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Chatsworth House
Large country house by river with wooded hillside beyond
The River Derwent, bridge and house at Chatsworth
General information
Architectural style English Baroque, Italianate
Location near Bakewell, Derbyshire
Country England
Coordinates 53°13′40″N 1°36′36″W / 53.22778°N 1.61000°W / 53.22778; -1.61000
Elevation 125 m (410 ft)
Construction started 1687
Completed 1708, with additions 1820–1840
Owner Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement, who lease the house to the Chatsworth House Trust.
Design and construction
Architect William Talman
Thomas Archer
Jeffry Wyattville
Joseph Paxton
James Paine
Listed Building – Grade I
Official name: Chatsworth House
Designated: 29 September 1951
Reference #: 1373871

Chatsworth House is a stately home in Derbyshire, England, in the Derbyshire Dales 3.5 miles (5.6 km) north-east of Bakewell and 9 miles (14 km) west of Chesterfield. The seat of the Duke of Devonshire, it has been home to the Cavendish family since 1549. It stands on the east bank of the River Derwent and looks across to low hills between the Derwent and Wye valleys. The house is set in expansive parkland and backed by wooded, rocky hills that rise to heather moorland. It contains major collections of paintings, furniture, Old Master drawings, neoclassical sculptures, books and other artefacts. Chatsworth has been chosen in several surveys as Britain's favourite country house.


Chatsworth House is built on sloping ground, lower on the north and west sides than on the south and east sides. The original Tudor mansion was built in the 1560s by Bess of Hardwick in a quadrangle layout, approximately 170 feet (50 m) from north to south and 190 feet (60 m) from east to west, with a large central courtyard. The main entrance was on the west front, which was embellished with four towers or turrets, and the great hall in the medieval tradition was on the east side of the courtyard, where the Painted Hall remains the focus of the house to this day.

The south and east fronts were rebuilt under the order of William Talman and were completed by 1696 for William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire. The 1st Duke's Chatsworth was a key building in the development of English Baroque architecture. According to the architectural historian Sir John Summerson, "It inaugurates an artistic revolution which is the counterpart of the political revolution in which the Earl was so prominent a leader." The design of the south front was revolutionary for an English house, with no attics or hipped roof, but instead two main stories supported by a rusticated basement. The facade is dramatic and sculptural with ionic pilasters and a heavy entablature and balustrade. The existing heavy and angular stone stairs from the first floor down to the garden are a 19th-century replacement of an elegant curved double staircase. The east front is the quietest of the four on the main block. Like the south front it is unusual in that it has an even number of bays and no centrepiece. The emphasis is placed on the end bays, each highlighted by double pairs of pilasters, of which the inner pairs project outwards.

Chatsworth - west front from Vitruvius Britannicus
The West Front of Chatsworth from Colen Campbell's Vitruvius Britannicus

The west and north fronts may have been the work of Thomas Archer, possibly in collaboration with the Duke himself. The west front has nine wide bays with a central pediment supported by four columns and pilasters to the other bays. Due to the slope of the site this front is taller than the south front. It is also large, with many other nine-bay three-storey facades little more than half as wide and tall. The west front is very lively with much carved stonework, and the window frames are highlighted with gold leaf, which catches the setting sun. The north front was the last to be built. It presented a challenge, as the north end of the west front projected nine feet (3 m) further than the north end of the east front. This problem was overcome by building a slightly curved facade to distract the eye. The attic windows on this side are the only ones visible on the exterior of the house and are set into the main facade, rather than into a visible roof. Those in the curved section were originally oval, but are now rectangular like those in the end sections. The north front was altered in the 19th century when William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire, along with the architect Jeffry Wyatville, built the North Wing, doubling the size of the house. Most of this wing only has two storeys, compared to the three of the main block. It is attached to the north-east corner of the house, and is around 400 feet (120 m) long. At the end of the North Wing is the North, or Belvedere, Tower. The work was carried out in an Italianate style that blends smoothly with the elaborate finish of the baroque house.

The 6th Duke built a gatehouse at this end of the house with three gates. The central and largest gate led to the North Entrance, then the main entrance to the house. This is now the entrance used by visitors. The north gate led to the service courtyard, and the matching south gate led to the original front door in the west front, which was relegated to secondary status in the Duke's time, but is now the family's private entrance once again.

The facades to the central courtyard were also rebuilt by the 1st Duke. The courtyard was larger than it is now, as there were no corridors on the western side and the northern and southern sides only had enclosed galleries on the first floor with open galleries below. In the 19th century, new accommodation was built on these three sides on all three levels. The only surviving baroque facade is that on the eastern side, where five bays of the original seven remain, and are largely as built. There are carved trophies by Samuel Watson, a Derbyshire craftsman who did a lot of work at Chatsworth in stone, marble and wood.


The 1st and 6th Dukes both inherited an old house, and tried to adapt to the lifestyle of their time without changing the fundamentals of its layout, making Chatsworth's layout unique, full of irregularities and the interiors a collection of different styles. Many of the rooms are recognisable of one main period, but in nearly every case, they have been altered more often than might be supposed at first glance.

State apartments

Chatsworth main hallway
Painted Hall with murals completed 1694 by Louis Laguerre
Chatsworth bedroom
State Bedroom completed 1694
Chatsworth House library
Library 1694–1700 plaster work by Edward Goudge, ceiling paintings by James Thornhill, bookcases and fireplace by Jeffry Wyatville 1824

The 1st Duke created a richly appointed Baroque suite of state rooms across the south front in anticipation of a visit by King William III and Queen Mary II that never occurred. The State Apartments are accessed from the Painted Hall, decorated with murals showing scenes from the life of Julius Caesar by Louis Laguerre, and ascend with the cantilevered Great Stairs to the enfilade of rooms that would control how far a person could progress into the presence of the King and Queen.

The Great Chamber is the largest room in the State Apartments, followed by the State Drawing Room, the Second Withdrawing Room, the State Bedroom and finally the State Closet, each room being more private and ornate than the last. The Great Chamber has a painted ceiling of a classical scene by Antonio Verrio. The Second Withdrawing Room was renamed the State Music Room when the 6th Duke brought the violin door here from Devonshire House in London. It features a convincing trompe-l'œil of a violin and bow "hanging" on a silver knob, painted about 1723 by Jan van der Vaart.

Around the time Queen Victoria decided that Hampton Court, with its state apartments in the same style, was uninhabitable, the 6th Duke wrote that he was tempted to demolish the State Apartments to make way for new bedrooms. However, sensitive to his family's heritage, he left the rooms largely untouched, making additions rather than change the existing spaces of the house. Changes to the main baroque interiors were restricted to details such as stamped leather hangings on the walls of the State Music Room and State Bedroom, and a wider and shallower, but less elegant staircase in the Painted Hall, which was itself later replaced. The contents of the State Apartments were rearranged in 2010 to reflect the way they would have looked in the 17th and 18th centuries.

18th-century alterations

In the 1760s, William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire redirected the approach to Chatsworth. He converted the kitchen in the centre of the north front into an entrance hall from which guests would walk through an open colonnade in the courtyard, through a passage past the cook's bedroom and the back stairs and into the Painted Hall. He then built an neoclassical service wing for his kitchens that were a forerunner of the 6th Duke's north wing. William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire had some of the family's private rooms redecorated and some partition walls were moved, but there are few traces of the mid- and late 18th century in the public rooms.

19th-century alterations

The 6th Duke conducted many modernisations of Chatsworth House to meet 19th-century standards of comfort, that suited a less formal lifestyle than that of the 1st Duke's time. The corridors around the edges of the courtyard were enclosed and furnished with a multicoloured marble floor, so that rooms could be easily reached from indoors, and more shared living rooms to replace individual guest apartments. The cook's bedroom and the back stairs made way for the Oak Stairs, topped by a glass dome, that were built at the northern end of the Painted Hall to improve internal communications. Along this staircase hang portraits of the first 11 Dukes and some of their family members. The Duke transformed the long gallery, originally created by the 1st Duke, into a library. He was a great lover of books and purchased entire libraries. The Ante-Library in the adjoining room was originally used by the 1st Duke as a dining room and then a billiard room before the 6th Duke used it to house his increasing collection of books. This was just one of the rooms in which the Duke installed a single pane window, which he believed to be the 'greatest ornament of modern decoration'. The window in the Ante-Library is the only one to have been preserved. Much of the scientific library of Henry Cavendish (1731–1810) is in this room. The most notable addition by the 6th Duke to Chatsworth was the Wyatville designed North Wing. Plans for a symmetrical wing to the south were begun but later abandoned.

The entire ground floor of the North Wing was occupied by service rooms, including a kitchen, servants' hall, laundry, butler and housekeeper's rooms. On the first floor, facing west, were two sets of bachelor bedrooms called 'California' and 'The Birds.' The main rooms in the new wing face east, and were accessed from the main house through a small library called the Dome Room. The first room beyond this is a dining room, with a music gallery in the serving lobby where the musicians played. Next is the sculpture gallery, the largest room in the house, and then the orangery. The Belvedere Tower contains a plunge bath, using the marble from the 1st Duke's bathroom, and a ballroom that was later turned into a theatre by the 8th Duke. Above the theatre is the belvedere itself, an open viewing platform below the roof.

Private rooms

Chatsworth has 126 rooms, with nearly 100 of them closed to visitors. The house is well adapted to allow the family to live privately in their apartments while the house is open to the public. Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire described the family rooms in detail in her book Chatsworth: The House. She lived at Edensor until her death in 2014, and the present (12th) Duke and Duchess live at Chatsworth. The family occupies rooms on the ground and first floors of the south front, all three floors of the west front, and the upper two floors of the north front. Staircases in the northeast corner of the main block and in a turret in the east front enable them to move about without crossing the public route.

The main family living rooms are on the first floor of the south front. The family dining room is in the southeast corner and has the same dimensions as the State Dining Room directly above. This has been the usual location of the family dining room; the Bachelor Duke's dining room in the north wing took over that role for an interlude of little more than a hundred years. Both Bess of Hardwick's house and the 1st Duke's house had a hierarchy of three dining rooms in this corner, each taller and more lavishly decorated than the one below. A common parlour on the ground floor was used by the gentlemen of the household, and later for informal family meals. Above it was the main family dining room, and at the top the Great Chamber, which was reserved for royalty, although the 6th Duke wrote that, to his knowledge, it had never been used.

The yellow drawing room, is next to the dining room and directly underneath the State Drawing Room. The Dowager Duchess has written that the house is so solidly built that the crowds passing above are imperceptible. The trio of reception rooms here is completed by the blue drawing room, which is below the State Music Room. This was created in the 18th century by knocking together the 1st Duke's bedroom and dressing room, and has a door to his private gallery at the upper level of the chapel. It has also served as a billiard room and as a school room. Charity events are sometimes held in this part of the house. Both drawing rooms have access to the garden through the South Front's external staircase.

Three corridors called 'the Tapestry Gallery', 'the Burlington Corridor' and 'the Book Passage' are wrapped around the south, west and north passages at this level, and give access to family bedrooms. There is a sitting room in the north-west corner — one of the few rooms in the house with outside views in two directions. There are more family bedrooms on the second floor facing west and north. The Scots and Leicester bedrooms in the east wing are still used when there is a large house party, which is the reason why sometimes they are available as a separately charged optional extra in the tour of the house and sometimes they are not. This suite of rooms now contains the 11th Duke's Exhibition. Visitors bypass the first floor on their way down the West Stairs from the state rooms to the chapel.

The private north stairs lead down to more private rooms on the ground floor of the West Front. In the centre is the West Entrance Hall, which is, once again, the family entrance. To the right, on entering, is a passage room known as the mineral room, which leads through to a study. To the left there is the Leather Room; with walls of leather and a great many books this is one of at least six libraries in the house. The next room is the Duke's Study, which has two windows, many more books and floral decoration painted for the Bachelor Duke by, in his own words, "three bearded artists in blouses imported from Paris." The corner room on the ground floor is the former 'little dining room'. These rooms are all very high, as the ground level in the west wing is lower than that of the Painted Hall and the ground floor corridors around the courtyard. Steps from the West Entrance Hall lead up to the west corridor.

The other family living rooms are in the eastern half of the ground floor of the South Front and can be reached through the Chapel Corridor on the public route, or the turret staircase from the dining room. The room in the south-east corner was once the Ducal bathroom, until the Bachelor Duke built his new plunge bath in the North Wing, and is now the pantry where the family china is kept. This connects to the modern kitchen, which is under the library and was made out of the steward's room and the linen room. Next to the pantry in the south front are offices.

Park and landscape

The garden attracts about 300,000 visitors a year. It has a complex blend of features from six different centuries, covering 105 acres (0.42 km2). It is surrounded by a wall 1.75 miles (2.8 km) long. It sits on the eastern side of the valley of the Derwent River and blends into the landscape of the surrounding park, which covers 1,000 acres (4.0 km2). The woods on the moors to the east of the valley form a backdrop to the garden. There is a staff of some 20 full-time gardeners. Average rainfall is around 33.7 inches (855 mm) a year, with an annual average of 1,160 hours of sunshine. Most of the main features of the garden were created in five main phases of development.

Elizabethan garden

The house and garden were first constructed by Sir William Cavendish and Bess of Hardwick in 1555. The Elizabethan garden was much smaller than the modern garden is now. There were terraces to the east of the house where the main lawn is now, ponds and fountains to the south, and fishponds to the west by the river. The main visual remnant of this time is a squat stone tower known as Queen Mary's Bower on account of a legend that Mary, Queen of Scots, was allowed to take the air there while she was a prisoner at Chatsworth. The bower is now outside the garden wall in the park. Some of the retaining walls of the West Garden also date to this era, but they were reconstructed and extended later.

A panoramic view of Chatsworth House and Park, by Pieter Tillemans (1684-1734)
A panoramic view of Chatsworth House and Park, early 18th century (Pieter Tillemans)

1st Duke's garden (1684–1707)

At the same time as he was rebuilding the house, the 1st Duke also created baroque gardens. It featured numerous parterres cut into the slopes above the house, and many fountains, garden buildings and classical sculptures. The principal surviving features from this time are:

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
Flora's Temple
Grand Cascade
The Cascade
  • The Cascade and Cascade House is a set of stone steps over which water flows from a set of fountains at the top. It was built in 1696 and rebuilt on a grander scale in 1701. In 1703 a grand baroque Temple or Cascade House designed by Thomas Archer was added at the top. A major restoration of both the Cascade and the Cascade House in 1994–1996 took 10,000-man-hours of work. In 2004 the Cascade was voted the best water feature in England by a panel of 45 garden experts organised by Country Life. It has 24 cut steps, each slightly different and with a variety of textures so that each gives a different sound when water runs over and down them.
  • The Canal Pond, dug in 1702, is a 314-yard (287 m)-long rectangular lake to the south of the house.
  • The Seahorse Fountain is a sculptural fountain in a circular pond on the lawn between the house and the Canal Pond. Originally, it was the centrepiece of the main parterre.
  • The Willow Tree Fountain is an imitation tree that squirts water on the unsuspecting from its branches. The writer Celia Fiennes wrote in her diary: "There... in the middle of ye grove stands a fine willow tree, the leaves, barke and all looks very naturall, ye roote is full of rubbish or great stones to appearance and all on a sudden by ye turning of a sluice it rains from each leafe and from the branches like a shower, it being made of brass and pipes to each leafe, but in appearance is exactly like any willow." The tree has been replaced twice and then restored in 1983.
  • The First Duke's greenhouse is a long, low building with ten arched windows and a temple-like centrepiece. It has been moved from its original site overlooking the 1st Duke's bowling green to the northern edge of the main lawn and is now fronted by a rose garden.
  • Flora's Temple is a classical temple built in 1695 and moved to its present site at the northern end of the broad walk in 1760. It contains a statue of the goddess Flora by Caius Gabriel Cibber.
  • The West Garden – now the family's private garden with modern planting in a three-section formal structure – is mainly a creation of the 1st Duke's time, but the layout is not original.

4th Duke's garden (1755–64)

The 4th Duke commissioned the landscape architect, Lancelot "Capability" Brown to transform the garden in the fashionable naturalistic landscape style of the day. Most of the ponds and parterres were converted to lawns, but as detailed above several important features were spared. Many trees were planted, including various American species specially imported from Philadelphia in 1759. The main aim of this work was to improve integration of the garden and park. Brown's 5.5 acre (22,000 m2) Salisbury Lawns still form the setting of the Cascade.

6th Duke's garden (1826–58)

The Rockeries, Chatsworth House, England (2)
The Rockeries
Chatsworth House Fountain
The Emperor Fountain

In 1826 a 23-year-old named Joseph Paxton, who had been trained at Kew Gardens, was appointed head gardener at Chatsworth. The 6th Duke had inherited Chatsworth fifteen years earlier and had previously shown little interest in improving the neglected garden, but he soon formed a productive and extravagantly funded partnership with Paxton, who proved to be the most innovative garden designer of his era, and remains the greatest single influence on Chatsworth's garden. Features that survive from that time include:

  • The Rockeries and The Strid: in 1842 Paxton began work on a rockery of a gargantuan scale, piling rocks weighing several tons one on top of another. One of them was described thus by Lord Desart in the 1860s: "In one place a sort of miniature Matterhorn apparently blocked the path but with the touch of the finger it revolved on a metal axis and made a way to pass." It is now locked in place to comply with health and safety regulations. Another rock is so balanced that it can be swayed with little pressure. Two rocks are named for the Queen and Prince Albert, and another for the Duke of Wellington, all of whom visited Chatsworth in the 6th Duke's time. The Wellington Rock, a construction of several rocks piled on top of each other, is 45 feet (14 m) high and a small waterfall drips over it into a pond. Sometimes in the winter the water freezes creating icicles. The water flows into a pond created by Paxton called 'The Strid', which is named after a stretch of the River Wharfe on the Devonshires' Bolton Abbey estate, where the river is compressed into a turbulent chasm just a yard wide. Chatsworth's Strid is a placid stretch of water fringed with rocks and luxuriant vegetation and crossed by a rustic bridge.
  • The Arboretum and Pinetum: the 6th Duke's time was an age of plant-hunting expeditions, with major new species readily discovered by intrepid botanists, and the Duke was one of the most generous sponsors. In 1829 he took an additional eight acres (32,000 m2) of the park into the garden to create a pinetum, and in 1835 Paxton began work on an arboretum, which was planned as a systematic succession of trees in accordance with botanical classification. Chatsworth has some of the oldest specimens of species such as Douglas fir and Giant Sequoia in the UK. Also in this part of the garden is the Grotto Pond, which was originally a fishpond, breeding fish for Chatsworth's table. The 6th Duke's mother had had the rustic grotto built at the end of the 18th century. The area around the pond is now planted for autumn colour.
  • The Azalea Dell and the Ravine: Rhododendrons and Azaleas grow well at Chatsworth as the soil suits them, and a section of the southern end of the garden is devoted to them. This is the most rugged part of the garden with steep serpentine paths and a stream running down a small valley known as The Ravine. In 1997 a waterfall was created out of old drinking troughs gathered from fields on the estate. There is also a bamboo walk there.
  • The Emperor Fountain: in 1843 Tsar Nicholas I of Russia informed the Duke that he was likely to visit Chatsworth the following year. In anticipation of this Imperial visit, the Duke decided to construct the world's highest fountain, and set Paxton to work to build it. An eight-acre (32,000 m2) lake was dug on the moors 350 feet (110 m) above the house to supply the natural water pressure. The work was finished in just six months, continuing at night by the light of flares, and the resulting water jet is on record as reaching a height of 296 feet (90 m). However, the Tsar died in 1855 and never saw the fountain. Due to a limited supply of water, the fountain usually runs on partial power, reaching half its full height. The water power found a practical use generating Chatsworth's electricity from 1893 to 1936. The house was then connected to the mains, and a new turbine was installed in 1988 that produces about a third of the electricity the house needs.
  • The Conservative Wall is a set of greenhouses that run up the slope from Flora's Temple to the stables against the north wall of the garden. A tall central section is flanked by ten smaller sections. They are used to grow fruit and camellias. Two Camellia reticulata 'Captain Rawes' planted in 1850 survive. Chatsworth's camellias have won many prizes. The name of the building has no political connotations; the Dukes of Devonshire were Whigs and later Liberals.

Two significant features from this period have been lost:

Chatsworth - Great Conservatory in the 19th century
The Great Conservatory at Chatsworth. Built from 1836 to 1841 and demolished in 1920.
Victoria Regia LIN 1849-
Paxton's daughter Annie standing on a Victoria amazonica leaf in the Lily House
  • The Great Conservatory, also known as the "Great Stove," the largest glass house in the world at that time. Paxton and architect Decimus Burton designed this glass house, which began construction in 1836 and was completed in 1841, at a cost of £33,099. It was 277 feet (84 m) long, 123 feet (37 m) wide and 61 feet (19 m). It used eight coal-fired furnaces to send hot water through seven miles of pipes. A carriage drive ran the length of the building between lush tropical vegetation. One W. Adam called it "A mountain of glass... an unexampled structure... like a sea of glass when the waves are settling and smoothing down after a storm." The King of Saxony compared it to "a tropical scene with a glass sky". The Great Conservatory was demolished in 1920 as it had not been heated during World War I to conserve coal.
  • The Victoria regia House, or Lily House, built by Paxton in 1849–1850. It was devoted to cultivation of the giant Amazon water lily, Victoria amazonica, which flowered in captivity there for the first time. Like the Great Conservatory, the Lily House was unused during World War I and demolished in 1920.

Modern garden (1950–present)

Chatsworth House
The South Front and the South Lawn with the Seahorse Fountain. The exterior steps are a 19th-century replacement for the original horseshoe-shaped steps.

The 7th–10th Dukes made few changes to the garden, which suffered in the Second World War, but the 11th Duke and his wife were keen gardeners and oversaw a revival. Gardening personality Alan Titchmarsh wrote in 2003, "Chatsworth's greatest strength is that its owners have refused to let the garden rest on its Victorian laurels. It continues to grow and develop, and that is what makes it one of the best and most vibrant gardens in Britain." Many historical features have been immaculately restored, and unusually for a modern country-house garden, many new features have been added, including:

  • The South Lawn limes were double rows of pleached red-twigged limes on either side of the South Lawn, which were planted in 1952 and removed in 2014.
  • The Serpentine Hedge is a wavy hedged yew corridor that leads from the Ring Pond to the bust of the 6th Duke. It was planted in 1953.
  • The Maze was planted with 1,209 yews in the centre of the site of the former Great Conservatory in 1962. Two flower gardens occupy the rest of the site.
  • The Display Greenhouse (1970) is in a modern style, but is unobtrusively sited behind the First Duke's greenhouse. It has three climate zones, tropical, Mediterranean and temperate. Public access is limited but groups may book tours and there are first-come-first-served tours on a few days each season.
  • The Cottage Garden was inspired by an exhibit at the 1988 Chelsea Flower Show. A front garden of flower beds bordered by box leads to the "kitchen/dining" room with furniture covered with plants. There is a bedroom in the same style on the upper level.
  • The Kitchen Garden is a productive fruit and vegetable garden with decorative features. It was created behind the stables in the early 1990s. Chatsworth's original kitchen garden covered 11.5 acres (5 ha) and was by the river in the park.
  • Modern sculpture includes various pieces, such as War Horse and Walking Madonna by Dame Elizabeth Frink, and 14 bronze portrait heads by Angela Conner.
  • The Sensory Garden is fully accessible to the disabled and features many fragrant plants. It was opened in 2004 by the then Home Secretary David Blunkett.
  • Quebec is a 4-acre (16,000 m2) part of the garden to the south and west of the canal pond that was, until 2006, a neglected and dank area covered with Rhododendron ponticum. This is now an extension to the Arboretum walk with a path that runs along the top of the steep bank. The new walk gives views out into the south park, across the River Derwent and up the hill towards New Piece wood. An 18th-century cascade was uncovered during the clearance.


Stable block - Chatsworth House - Derbyshire, England - DSC03651
The stable block 1758–67 by James Paine

The stable block at Chatsworth is prominently situated on the rising ground to the north-east of the house. Its entrance gate features four Doric columns with rusticated banding, a pediment containing a huge carving of the family coat of arms, two life-size stags in embellished with real antlers, and a clock tower topped by a cupola. The building was designed by James Paine for the 4th Duke and was built in 1758–67. It is approximately 190 feet (60 m) square and is two storeys tall. There are low towers in the corners in addition to the one over the entrance gate. The stables originally had stalls for 80 horses, and all necessary equine facilities including a blacksmiths shop. The first floor was occupied by granaries and accommodation for the many stable staff. According to the Dowager Duchess in her book, Chatsworth: The House, one room still has "Third Postillion" painted on the door. The 6th Duke added a carriage house behind the stables in the 1830s.

The last horses left the stables in 1939, when the building became a store and garage. The grooms' accommodation was turned into flats for Chatsworth employees and pensioners. When the house reopened after the war, "catering" was limited to an outdoor tap, which has since been relabelled "water for dogs". In 1975 a tea bar was set up with an investment of £120. The first attempt at a café opened in 1979. It seated 90 in some old horse stalls in the stables and was unsatisfactory to customers or from a commercial point of view. In 1987 the Duke and Duchess's private chef, a Frenchman named Jean-Pierre Béraud who was also a leading light in the success of the Chatsworth Farm Shop and Chatsworth Foods, took charge of the catering. After a failed attempt to obtain planning permission for a new building incorporating the old ice house in the park, a 250-seat restaurant was created in the carriage house. The 19th-century coach used by the Dowager Duchess and the late Duke at the Queen's Coronation is on display there. Other facilities include The Cavendish Rooms, which also serves refreshments, a shop, and three rooms for hire. The stables cater for 30,000 people a month in the visitor season.

Park, woods and farmyard

Chatsworth park covers about 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) and is open to free of charge all year round, except for the south-east section, the Old Park, which is used for breeding by herds of red and fallow deer. The stance of the Dukes on wider access rights has changed much. Upon the 11th Duke's death in 2004, the Ramblers Association praised him for enlightened championing of open access and his apologies for the attitude of the 10th Duke, who had restricted access to much estate land. Even under the 11th Duke, disputes arose: when the definitive rights of way were being compiled in the 1960s and 1970s, the footpath to the Swiss Cottage (an isolated house by a lake in the woods) was contested, and the matter went to the High Court, making Derbyshire one of the last counties to settle its definitive maps.

The Hunting Tower Chatsworth House Derbyshire England
The Hunting Tower c.1580
Chatsworth Bridge - - 112435
The Bridge 1759–64 by James Paine

Farm stock also graze in the park, many of which belong to tenant farmers or smallholders, who use it for summer grazing. Bess of Hardwick's park was wholly on the east side of the river and only extended as far south as the Emperor Fountain and as far north as the cricket ground. Seven fish ponds were dug to the north-west of the house, where the large, flat area is used now for events such as the annual Chatsworth Horse Trials and the Country Fair, typically held towards the end of August. The bridge over the river was at the south end of the park and crossed to the old village of Edensor, which was by the river in full sight of the house.

Capability Brown did at least as much work in the park as he did in the garden. The open, tree-flecked landscape admired today is man-made. Brown straightened the river and put a network of drainage channels under the grass. The park is fertilised with manure from the estates farms; weeds and scrub are kept under control. Brown filled in most of the fishponds and extended the park to the west of the river. Meanwhile James Paine designed a new bridge to the north of the house, set at an angle of 40 degrees to command the best view of the West Front of the house. Most of the houses in Edensor were demolished and the village was rebuilt out of sight of the house. The hedges between the fields on the west bank of the river were grubbed up to create open parkland and woods were planted on the horizon. These were arranged in triangular clumps, so that a screen of trees could be maintained when each planting had to be felled. Brown's plantings reached their peak in the mid-20th century and are gradually being replaced. The 5th Duke had an elegant red-brick inn built at Edensor to cater to an increasing number of well-to-do travellers coming to see Chatsworth. It is now the estate office.

In 1823 the Bachelor Duke acquired the Duke of Rutland's land around Baslow to the north of Chatsworth in exchange for land elsewhere. He extended the park about half a mile (800 m) north to its present limits. He had the remaining cottages of the old Edensor inside the park demolished, apart from the home of one old man who did not wish to move, which still stands in isolation today. The houses in Edensor were rebuilt in picturesque pattern-book styles. In the 1860s the 7th Duke had St Peter's Church, Edensor enlarged by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The church spire embellishes the views from the house, garden and park. Inside there is a remarkable monument to Bess of Hardwick's sons Henry Cavendish and William, 1st Earl of Devonshire. St Peter's in Edensor is where the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th Duke of Devonshire and their wives are buried, not in a vault inside the church, but lie in individual graves marked by simple headstones, in the Cavendish family plot overlooking the churchyard.

On the hills of the eastern side of the park there is Stand Wood. The Hunting Tower there was built in 1582 by Bess of Hardwick. At the top of Stand Wood is a plateau of several square miles of lakes, woods and moorland. There are public paths through the area and Chatsworth offers guided tours with commentary in a 28-seater trailer pulled by a tractor. The area is the water source for the gravity-fed waterworks in the garden. The Swiss Lake feeds the Cascade and the Emperor Lake the Emperor Fountain. The Bachelor Duke had an aqueduct built, over which water tumbles on its way to the cascade.

The late Deborah, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, was a keen advocate of rural life. In 1973 a Chatsworth Farmyard exhibit was opened in the old building yard above the stables at explaining how food was produced. There are milking demonstrations and displays of rare breeds. An adventure playground was added in 1983. A venue for talks and exhibitions called Oak Barn was opened by the television gardener Alan Titchmarsh in 2005. Chatsworth also runs two annual rural-skills weeks, in which demonstrations of agricultural and forestry are given to groups of schoolchildren on the estate farms and woods.


Weir on the River Derwent at the Chatsworth estate

Chatsworth is the hub of a 35,000-acre (140 km2) agricultural estate. The Chatsworth estate, together with 30,000 acres (120 km2) around Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire (mostly moorland) and some land in Eastbourne, belongs to The Trustees of Chatsworth Settlement, a family trust established in 1946. The Duke and other members of the family are entitled to the income. The family's 8,000-acre (32 km2) Lismore Castle estate in Ireland is held in a separate trust. The estate includes dozens of tenanted farms and over 450 houses and flats. There are five sub-estates scattered across Derbyshire:

  • The Main Estate is a compact block of 12,310 acres (4,982 ha) around the house, including the park and many properties in the villages of Baslow, Pilsley, Edensor, Beeley, and Calton Lees.
  • The West Estate is 6,498 acres (26.30 km2) of scattered high ground, mostly in the Peak District and partly in Staffordshire. Hartington, from which the family takes its secondary title is nearby.
  • The Shottle Estate is 3,519 acres (14.24 km2) in and around Shottle, which is around 15 miles (24 km) south of Chatsworth. This low-lying land is home to most of the dairy farms on the estate, and also has some arable farms.
  • The Staveley Estate is 3,400 acres (14 km2) at Staveley near Chesterfield, including a 355 acres (1.44 km2) industrial site called Staveley Works—which is let to various tenants—some woodlands, and arable farms.
  • The Scarcliffe Estate, mostly arable farms, is 9,320 acres (37.7 km2) east of Chesterfield.

The Chatsworth Settlement has a range of sources of income in addition to agricultural rents. Several thousand acres, mostly around Chatsworth and on the Staveley estate, are farmed in hand. Several properties can be rented as holiday cottages, including Bess of Hardwick's Hunting Tower in the park. Several quarries produce limestone and other minerals.

The 11th Duke and Duchess did not opt for a "theme park" approach to modernising a country estate, but they eschewed the traditional aristocratic reluctance to participate in commerce. The Chatsworth Farm Shop is a large enterprise, employing over a hundred. A 90-seat restaurant opened at the Farm Shop in 2005. From 1999 to 2003 there was also a shop in the exclusive London district of Belgravia, but it was unsuccessful and closed down.

The Settlement runs the four shops and the catering operations at Chatsworth, paying a percentage of turnover to the charitable Chatsworth House Trust in lieu of rent. It also runs the Devonshire Arms Hotel and the Devonshire Fell Hotel & Bistro on the Bolton Abbey estate, and owns the Cavendish Hotel at Baslow, on the edge of Chatsworth Park, which is let to a tenant. The old kitchen garden at Barbrook on the edge of the park is let to the Caravan Club; a paddock at the southern end of the park where bucks were fattened for Chatsworth's table is a tenanted garden centre. In both cases the Settlement receives a percentage of turnover as rent.

There is a line of Chatsworth branded foods endorsed with the Dowager Duchess's signature and available by mail order. She also established Chatsworth Design to exploit intellectual property rights to the Devonshire collections, and a furniture company called Chatsworth Carpenters, but the latter has now been licensed to an American company.


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