The heritage and beauty of the Heart of the Midlands brings visitors from the world over
Chatsworth House, heritage, beauty at the Heart of the Midlands
The majestic Chatsworth House has a long tradition of welcoming local people and holiday makers from around the world. They come to see that the 105 acre garden is a magical landscape, beautiful in all seasons, which has evolved in more than 450 years and continues to change to this day.
The home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth House has been home to the Cavendish family since 1549. Standing on the east bank of the River Derwent, it looks across to the low hills between the Derwent and Wye Valley and is set in the magnificent landscape of Derbyshire's Peak District National Park.
Set in a 1000 acre park, Chatsworth House has been labelled the 'Palace of the Peak' and features more than 30 rooms, a large library and a magnificent collection of paintings. A look around the grand house reveals a selection of fine sights and puzzling curiosities. These include four royal thrones, a sculpture gallery, paintings by the likes of Rembrandt and Van Dyck and the memorable illusionist painting of a violin hanging on a door. It is estimated that more than a million people use the estate in some way every year making Chatsworth House one of Derbyshire’s most popular tourist attractions.
The History of Chatsworth House
It started with another powerful woman, Bess of Hardwick, who was second only to Queen Elizabeth I in wealth and influence during her 16th Century lifetime. The estate of Chatsworth was bought by her second husband, Sir William Cavendish, in 1549, from the Agard family. Together with her second husband, Sir William Cavendish, Bess of Hardwick built the first house at Chatsworth, a building which would later imprison Mary Queen of Scots. The building was completed by Bess of Hardwick, after Sir William’s death in 1557.
During the English Civil War both sides occupied and damaged the family home and the then Earl of Devonshire did not return to Derbyshire until after the restoration of the monarchy. The three storey Elizabethan house was completely remodelled by 1707 by the 4th Earl of Cavendish, who was made the first Duke after helping William of Orange ascend to the throne in 1689. He had to restore much of the building and radically altered Chatsworth House at the turn of the 18th Century, creating most of the current imposing building.
Capability Brown and the magical gardens of Chatsworth House
The beautiful sweeping views, the trademark rural look of renowned landscape gardener Lancelot "Capability" Brown can still be seen today. In his career, Brown’s pre-eminent period of work came between 1750 and 1780, so his Chatsworth commission was relatively early, but at a time when his style was becoming established. He specialised in the creation of rolling green slopes right up to the walls of the principal House. Trees were carefully placed singly or in clumps particularly on hills with a perimeter belt of trees to enclose the view. Carriage drives with carefully planned views, and a lake or widened river of ‘natural’ appearance in the middle ground. All of these signature features he employed to great effect at Chatsworth. Together with the 4th Duke, Brown directed a programme of tree planting which spread across the landscape – to cover the Stand escarpment behind the house, to ornament the new parts of the park, and cover the horizons to the west.
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