Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, Peak District. Home of the Dukes of Devonshire.
Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, in the Peak District. Home of the Dukes of Devonshire, the Cavendish Family. First built by Bess of Hardwick. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned here. The greatest house of the Peak District, set in a large park.
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|When you drive across the surrounding park and see Chatsworth House for the first time, a sumptuous pile of yellow stone surrounded by gardens, fronted by the River Derwent and backed by a tree-covered hillside, it fairly takes your breath away. It is not hard to see why this is the premier tourist attraction of the area. |
The original house here was the work of Sir William Cavendish and his third wife Bess of Hardwick in the mid 16th Century. Sir William was a Crown Commissioner responsible for dissolving monasteries and his reward was a gift of land here. Sir William died in 1557 with the house partly constructed and Bess completed a house with a central courtyard and four corner towers, facing east towards the hillside. No trace of this can now be seen, but the modern house retains many of the Elizabethan interior walls and the Huntingtower on the hill above the house dates from the 1580s.
The first Duke rebuilt Chatsworth in Classical style between 1686 and 1707, using an obscure Dutch architect called William Talman. He later fired Talman and the house was completed by Thomas Archer.
The Library and North Wing were added by the 6th Duke between 1790 and 1858, the work of Wyatville, and the stables and bridges over the River Derwent were added in the 18th century by Paine. The park was landscaped by the 4th Duke (1720-1764), who engaged 'Capability' Brown to reshape the formal garden into the more natural one you see today.
The 6th Duke engaged Joseph Paxton as the head gardener at the age of 23, resulting in the enrichment of the gardens and the creation of the Emperor Fountain (to impress the Czar of Russia when he visited) as well as the Great Conservatory. Paxton worked at Chatsworth the rest of his life, staying for 32 years. The house and gardens have remained little changed since this time, the only major exception being the demolition of the Great Conservatory and its replacement by a maze.
Many famous people have come to Chatsworth, some to stay and others to live there. Among the most famous are Mary Queen of Scots, who was here as a guest and prisoner of Bess of Hardwick and her fourth husband, the Earl of Shrewsbury, between 1573 and 1582. Another was Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who lived here in a famous 'menage a trois' with the 5th Duke and Lady Elizabeth Foster in the late 18th century.
The house itself is magnificent, if a little overwhelming, while the gardens are a treat, and the surrounding park is a superb area of open space with fine scenery, woods and views of the house and surrounding area - an excellent place for relatively gentle walks.
It is also possible to visit the farmyard behind the house, where typical farm animals can be seen in context; with milking demonstrations and other insights into life on a farm for both the people and the animals. Next to the farmyard there is a small adventure playground.
Chatsworth House and Park Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
How to get there
The B6102 Baslow to Rowsley road goes through Chatsworth Park. To reach Baslow take the A619 Bakewell - Chesterfield road or the A623 Chapel-en-le-Frith to Chesterfield road. Rowsley lies on the A6 between Bakewell and Matlock. Car parking is provided alongside the house at a charge of £2.00. There is also parking at Calton Lees at the south end of the park (about 1 mile or 1.5 km from the house, but a very pleasant walk across the park). This is also £2.00
By Bus: The 214 Wirksworth - Sheffield bus comes directly to the door. The 170 bus from Chesterfield will bring you to Baslow - from it is a pleasant walk through the park of about 2km, or pick up the 214 bus to take you to the door. For access from Derby or Buxton/Manchester take the Trans Peak Derby->Bakewell->Buxton->Manchester bus and change to the 214 bus in Darley Dale.
By Train: The nearest railway stations are Chesterfield (trains from Sheffield or London) or Matlock (trains from Derby).
When is it open?
The house, garden, farmyard, gift shops and restaurant are usually open mid March (11th March in 2012) to late December. The 1000 acre park and the farmshop and its restaurant are open all year round.
House 11.0am to 5.30pm, last admission 4.30pm.
Garden 11.00am to 6.00pm, last admission 5.00pm.
Farmyard and adventure playground 10.30am to 5.30pm, last admission 4.30pm.
What does it cost?
The prices quoted are 'at-the-door' Summer prices. Booking on-line saves you 10% and Winter tickets are also slightly cheaper.
Complete Ticket (valid for 1 visit to the house, garden and farmyard for one day) - Adults £20.00, Senior citizens/students £17.00, Children £13.00, Family ticket £60.00.
House and Garden - Adult £15.00, Senior citizens/Student £13.00, Children £9.00, Family ticket £43.00.
Garden only - Adults £10.00, Senior citizens/students £8.00, Children £6.00, Family ticket £28.00,
Farmyard and adventure playground - Adults £5.00, Senior citizen/Students £4.00, Children £5.25, Family £19.50.
Prices and opening times are shown as a guideline only and may vary. See this link for more information on prices and opening
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