Chatsworth House

Chatsworth House, is the home of the Duke of Devonshire. It is one of England’s exceptional Stately Homes.

Chatsworth House

Chatsworth House is aptly called the Palace of the peak. It is one of England's awe-inspiring stately homes and the seat of the Dukes of Devonshire and their ancestors for over 400 years. 

The palatial house has 175 lavish rooms, and visitors find everything they hope to discover and experience from a stately home. It has intricately decorated interiors, one of the finest art collections and rich family history. Jane Austen may have visited Chatsworth in 1811 when writing Pride and Prejudice and used it as her inspiration for Darcy's house, Pemberley. Indeed, this is why Chatsworth features in Joe Wright's 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice as Darcy's country house.

Chatsworth House stands in the middle of the Peak District National Park, much like a jewel on a beautiful green velvet cushion - Chatsworth is a special place, and a visit works perfectly with our England and Wales Tour.

Palace in the Peaks

A brief History of Chatsworth

Bess of Hardwick
In 1546, when Elizabeth Cavendish, 'Bess of Hardwick' persuaded her fourth husband, the Earl of Shrewsbury to build the original mansion house. Later, the 4th Earl and 1st Duke of Devonshire pulled down the old house and constructed the present building during the late 17th century. 

The 2nd Duke (1673-1729) collected paintings, drawings and prints and was the grandfather to Henry Cavendish, an accomplished scientist. Henry was the first person to 'weigh the world' and recognised hydrogen as an element. His stock of 12,000 scientific books is in the Chatsworth library. 

The 4th Duke (1720-64) was a prominent politician and became Prime Minister (1756-1757). He made considerable changes to the grounds. Fashions had changed, so formal gardens lost favour for a natural look, promoted by the famous landscape gardener Lancelot "Capability" Brown. The Duke had the entire village of Edensor moved, and course of the river diverted to enhance the design. 

The 5th Duke (1748-1811) married Lady Georgiana Spencer, famous for her charm and much loved by all who knew her. The story of her life is the subject of a successful movie and book, 'The Duchess' (2008). Georgiana's son became the 6th Duke, never married and like his mother was a prince of hosts and spent most of his life enjoying it, and buying works of art. The Duke added the glasshouses to the gardens during his custodianship. 

The 7th Duke (1808-91) was a scholar and prize-winner in mathematics and chancellor of both London and Cambridge Universities during his life. A library is named after him at Cambridge. 

The 9th Duke (1868-1938) was the first to have to pay death duties, which was a vast sum. The Duke had no choice but to sell precious books and Devonshire House along with its three acres in Piccadilly, London. The two world wars in the 20th century were financially and emotionally ruinous for Britain, and the Government required more taxation to meet the country's obligations. That said, the 10th Duke's sudden death led to the sale of land and more Chatsworth treasures. The financial uncertainty continued for several years until the foundation of the Chatsworth House Trust Ltd. 

The 12th Duke and current helmsman of the Chatsworth Estate is Peregrine Cavendish. When touring Chatsworth and the Peak District, we recommend staying at The Cavendish Hotel, Baslow on the Chatsworth Estate. 

The estate
The house is the centre of a 35,000-acre estate incorporating woods, farms, rivers, quarries and industrial zones. The grounds around amount to one thousand acres and as a visitor you are free to wander where ever you like. We like to include a visit to The farm shop, and it is one of the best in the country. Most of the produce is from the estate or county. We like to introduce people to local cheeses and ales.  

Behind the scenes
Just try and imagine maintaining a house this large for just one moment. Here are the stats, there are 175 rooms, 17 staircases, 359 doors, over 2000 light bulbs, and 7,873 panes of glass. We could go on and on. The garden and house employ roughly 85 people plus over 100 more during the summer months to look after visitors. 

The House
The painted hall; As we see from older grand British houses, the great hall is designed to impress, and provoke emotions of awe. The painted hall is a 17th-century version of the great medieval hall, seen at Penshurst Place. Here at Chatsworth, the walls and ceilings are painted with scenes of Julius Caesar's life by the French artist Louis Laguerre (1663-1721). The painted hall moves on to the Great Stairs, which also impress. 

The state rooms; are what makes a home a stately home. They are for entertaining heads of state, foreign dignitaries and all people of power. At Chatsworth, these rooms have painted ceilings and carved wood-panelled walls. When war broke out in 1939, a girls school used the staterooms as dormitories. Many large country houses were requisitioned for the war effort. One of the features of the state music room always enthrals visitors, the painting of a violin on the inner door, created to deceive the viewer. At first glance, it isn't easy to know if the violin is real or not. 

The chapel; Unaltered since its construction in the late 1600s the chapel is sumptuous with painted walls and ceilings depicting the Life of Christ.  

The library; There are over 17,000 volumes stacked on mahogany shelving with brass additions. Again the ceiling has paintings, one of which 'Iris presenting the wounded Venus to Mars' won the Royal Academy picture of the year in 1823. 

The sculpture gallery; The 6th Duke indulged in collecting what was then up to date marble sculpture. As you walk through the gallery, it is like being watched by a race of pale gods and goddesses, who could come to life at any moment. The collection is incredible. The sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822) seems to be the 6th Duke's favourite; he purchased several items. 

The Garden
There are 100 acres of gardens, here are the highlights only; Having a cascade became a must-have on any self-respecting grand estate. Chatsworth goes a step further with a series of 24 groups of steps, and each group arranged differently to make altering sounds as the water tumbled over the stones. The cascading water doesn't go to waste; the water eventually disappears into pipes underground and operates a fountain on the other side of the house further downhill. 

The Rockery; Most people with a garden in Britain, may include a rockery, a natural-looking series of stones with plants growing around, and maybe a water feature. The Rockery at Chatsworth is more like a small mountain range, and one rock is 45 ft high. Water tumbles over the stone into a small pool. The effect is brilliant, as you cannot tell that it is not natural and all part the scheme. 

The Emperor Fountain
Reflections of an elaborate piece of architecture in water are appealing. At Chatsworth, there is an elongated rectangle sheet of water nearly a thousand feet long, the house majestically reflected at one end. The 6th Duke, a friend of Czar Nicholas, Emperor of Russia might have visited England and Chatsworth. The Duke had seen the grand fountain at Peterhof when he stayed at the Imperial Palace. The prospect of greeting the Emperor at Chatsworth and impressing him with a fountain with a higher jet of water filled the Duke with glee. 

Building a fountain may seem easy, but waterworks on this scale with a jet this powerful required the digging of an eight-acre lake on the moors above the house. Workers moved 100,000 cubic yards of earth, which was then removed by horse-drawn cart.

Touring and accommodation
Please think about including Chatsworth House on your next tour of England. We feature the estate in our suggested tour of England and Wales. Our tour-designers will customise our itineraries to your requirements.

If this is your first time to England, we would recommend a custom version of our Town and Country Tour; it covers the famous places and allows you to utilise your private driver-guide by getting-off-the-beaten-path. Our Classic tour of Ireland is a good place to start for the first trip to Ireland, and we suggest the Classic tour of Scotland for your first trip to the bonny Highlands. Merging Wales with England makes for a dynamic experience of mountains, stately homes and cosy country pubs.

There is a wide choice of accommodation in England; Manor House HotelsGuest Houses and Britain's Finest Hotels. We recommend staying at The Cavendish Hotel on the Chatsworth Estate with classic English styled accommodation overseen by the Duchess of Devonshire. Choose rooms, suites and or multi-room coach house.

England's Great House of Treasure

A Majestic House of Art Surrounded by Dynamic Gardens

  • 100 Acres of Gardens
  • 1000 Acre Park
  • The Cavendish Hotel on the Estate Grounds
  • VIP Guided Tours Available
  • Sculpture Gallery
  • Vast Collection of Art

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