Why go there?
As a classic stately home built in the early 1550’s, Chatsworth estate so rightly remains one of the great wonders of the Peak District. Set amongst the complementary splendour of the Peak’s rolling hills, and backed by the heathered woodland of the Derwent and Wye valleys, Chatsworth’s grounds are a vision. Chatsworth reigns as one of Britain’s favourite country homes, and the crème de la crème of English heritage.
As the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire’s family home for generations, the estate and a small selection of its 126 rooms have been open to the appreciation of the public for centuries. Built up proud on sloping foundations, the house itself is an extravagant picture of historic beauty. Preserved in the heart of Derbyshire’s rich countryside, it’s a sight capable of transporting you back to an era of Elizabethan royalty.
The estate is home to one of Europe’s greatest private collections of artwork. The display boasts sculptures, tapestries, furniture and books dating right back to classical times. The New Gallery is a recent addition, and will be host to exhibitions original only to Chatsworth. The Gallery will hold pieces celebrating the work of the 6th Duke of Devonshire, William Spencer Cavendish.
The surrounding 1000-acre spread parkland mirrors the banks of The River Derwent persistently, offering a continuation of the estate’s greatness. Open all year round, this man-made landscape is a haven for ramblers. The park is home and crop to sheep, cattle and game. The southeast wing, named the Old Park, is used for breeding herds of red and fallow deer. The park and its expanse is also an ideal location for annual Horse Trials, Angling events and Country fairs selling regional produce.
The 150-acre, 450 year-old gardens have evolved over the years into an abundance of colour and fragrance. English rose gardens, rockery ponds, cottage and kitchen inspired shrubbery patches, and rare species of flora are entwined with over five miles of pathways. Suggested routes and trails, complete with their own guidebook, take you on a journey of historic wander.
Accompanying the garden is a fantastic display of water features, including the globally renowned 300 year-old Cascade. Joseph Paxton, head gardener of the 19th Century, became legendary for his design of the Great Conservatory and the gravity-fed Emperor fountain.
The remainder of the grounds is resident to a wealth of tourist attractions: a maze, shops, restaurants, the grounds own prized farm shop, the farmyard, and children’s adventure playground. Perfect for a family day out, there are also picnic areas available for those rare alfresco dining worthy afternoons.
Visit Chatsworth this weekend to take part in a festive celebration of carols, seasonal displays and costume.
Where to stay?
Preceding its reputation for exceptional hospitality, a select few of the Chatsworth properties are rented out to the public. Traditional holiday cottages, converted stone barns and the Hunting Tower are the idyllic setting for a weekend break, furnished complete with a harmonising combination of the old and the new. The properties are perched on the banks of lakes, rivers and woodland.
The stunning 18th century stables are also available to hire for weddings and events along with an incredible team of caterers.
Where to eat?
Offering an extension of the estates grand quality, there’s a selection of eateries on site. From a freshly made sandwich at the Carriage House restaurant, or high tea – home baked courtesy of The Cavendish rooms, to a fully traditional three-course meal. Prepared to the highest standards by in-house chefs and bakers, a majority of the menu is obtainable from the locally stocked farm shop.
If you would prefer to venture further afield, The Devonshire Arms in Pilsley is just over a mile down the road and ticks all the boxes that a traditional Country Inn should.
Tell us a local secret
The estate is popular choice when filming the latest period drama. Chatsworth appeared in the 2005 edition of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice as the setting for Mr Darcy’s home, Pemberley. The Duchess was also filmed at Chatsworth during the autumn of 2007, starring Keira Knightley.
Most recently, an adaption of the 1940’s, The Wolfman, starring Anthony Hopkins was filmed here in 2010.
Did you know…?
Elizabeth Stuart, Countess of Lennox, was born at Chatsworth house in 1555 to Bess of Hardwick, the creator of Chatsworth.
Words by Kate Wightman