Chatsworth House is a stately home in the Derbyshire Dales, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) north-east of Bakewell and 9 miles (14 km) west of Chesterfield, England.
- Area:93.823 km2
- Elevation:150 m
- Local Government Area:Moyne Shire Council
Chatsworth House is a stately home in the Derbyshire Dales, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) north-east of Bakewell and 9 miles (14 km) west of Chesterfield, England. The seat of the Duke of Devonshire, it has belonged to the Cavendish family since 1549. It stands on the east bank of the River Derwent, across from hills between the Derwent and Wye valleys, amid parkland backed by wooded hills that rise to heather moorland. The house holds major collections of paintings, furniture, Old Master drawings, neoclassical sculptures and books. Chosen several times as Britain's favourite country house, it is a Grade I listed property from the 18th century, altered in the 19th. In 2011–2012 it underwent a £14-million restoration. The owner is the Chatsworth House Trust, an independent charitable foundation, on behalf of the Cavendish family.
## 11th–16th centuries
The name 'Chatsworth' is a corruption of Chetel's-worth, meaning "the Court of Chetel". In the reign of Edward the Confessor, a man of Norse origin named Chetel held lands jointly with a Saxon named Leotnoth in three townships: Ednesoure to the west of the Derwent, and Langoleie and Chetesuorde to the east. Chetel was deposed after the Norman Conquest and in the Domesday Book the Manor of Chetesuorde is listed as the property of the Crown in the custody of William de Peverel. Chatsworth ceased to be a large estate, until the 15th century when it was acquired by the Leche family who owned property nearby. They enclosed the first park at Chatsworth and built a house on the high ground in what is now the south-eastern part of the garden. In 1549 they sold all their property in the area to Sir William Cavendish, Treasurer of the King's Chamber and the husband of Bess of Hardwick, who had persuaded him to sell his property in Suffolk and settle in her native county.
Bess began to build the new house in 1553. She selected a site near the river, which was drained by digging a series of reservoirs, which doubled as fish ponds. Sir William died in 1557, but Bess finished the house in the 1560s and lived there with her fourth husband, George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. In 1568 Shrewsbury was entrusted with the custody of Mary, Queen of Scots, and brought his prisoner to Chatsworth several times from 1570 onwards. She lodged in the apartment now known as the Queen of Scots rooms, on the top floor above the great hall, which faces onto the inner courtyard. An accomplished needlewoman, Bess joined Mary at Chatsworth for extended periods in 1569, 1570, and 1571, during which time they worked together on the Oxburgh Hangings. Bess died in 1608 and Chatsworth was passed to her eldest son, Henry. The estate was purchased from Henry by his brother William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire, for £10,000.
## 17th century
Few changes were made at Chatsworth until the mid-17th century. William Cavendish, 3rd Earl of Devonshire was a staunch Royalist, expelled from the House of Lords in 1642. He left England for the safety of the continent and his estates were sequestered. Chatsworth was occupied by both sides during the Civil War, and the 3rd Earl did not return to the house until The Restoration of the monarchy. He reconstructed the principal rooms in an attempt to make them more comfortable, but the Elizabethan house was outdated and unsafe.
The famed political philosopher Thomas Hobbes spent the last four or five years of his life at Chatsworth Hall, then owned by William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire. He had been a friend of the family since 1608, when he first tutored an earlier William Cavendish in 1608. Hobbes died at another Cavendish family estate, Hardwick Hall in December 1679. After his death, many of Hobbes' manuscripts were found at Chatsworth House.William Cavendish, 4th Earl of Devonshire, who became the 1st Duke in 1694 for helping to put William of Orange on the English throne, was an advanced Whig. He was forced to retire to Chatsworth during the reign of King James II. This called for rebuilding the house, which began in 1687. Cavendish aimed initially to reconstruct only the south wing with the State Apartments and so decided to retain the Elizabethan courtyard plan, although its layout was becoming increasingly unfashionable. He enjoyed building and reconstructed the East Front, which included the Painted Hall and Long Gallery, followed by the West Front from 1699 to 1702. The North Front was completed in 1707 just before he died. The 1st Duke also had large parterre gardens designed by George London and Henry Wise, who was later appointed by Queen Anne as Royal Gardener at Kensington Palace.
## 18th century
William Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Devonshire, and William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire, made no changes to the house or gardens, but both contributed much to the collection found at Chatsworth at the time. Connoisseurs of the arts, they included in the collection paintings, Old Master drawings and prints, ancient coins and carved Greek and Roman sculptures. Palladian furniture designed by William Kent was commissioned by the 3rd Duke when he had Devonshire House in London rebuilt after a fire in 1733. When Devonshire House was sold and demolished in 1924, the furniture was transferred to Chatsworth.
The 4th Duke made great changes to the house and gardens. He decided the approach to the house should be from the west. He had the old stables and offices as well as parts of Edensor village pulled down so they were not visible from the house, and replaced the 1st Duke's formal gardens with a more natural look, designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown, which he helped bring into fashion.
In 1748, the 4th Duke married Lady Charlotte Boyle, the sole surviving heiress of Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington. Lord Burlington was an accomplished architect in his own right with many works to his name including Chiswick House. With his death, his important collection of architectural drawings and Inigo Jones masque designs, Old Master paintings and William Kent-designed furniture were transferred to the Dukes of Devonshire. This inheritance also brought many estates to the family.
In 1774, William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire, married Georgiana Spencer famous as a socialite who gathered around her a large circle of literary and political friends. Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds would paint her; the Gainsborough painting would be disposed of by the 5th Duke and be recovered much later, after many vicissitudes. The film The Duchess portrayed their life together. Georgiana was the great-great-great-great aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales; their lives, centuries apart, have been compared in tragedy.
## 19th century
The 6th Duke (known as "the Bachelor Duke") was a passionate traveller, builder, gardener and collector, who transformed Chatsworth. In 1811 he inherited the title and eight major estates: Chatsworth and Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, Devonshire House, Burlington House and Chiswick House in London, Bolton Abbey and Londesborough Hall in Yorkshire, and Lismore Castle in Ireland. These covered 200,000 acres (810 km2) of land in England and Ireland.
The Duke was a collector especially of sculpture and books. When he built the North Wing to the designs of Sir Jeffry Wyatville, it included a purpose-built Sculpture Gallery to house his collection. He took over several rooms in the house to contain the entire libraries he was purchasing at auction. The 6th Duke loved to entertain, and the early 19th century saw a rise in popularity of country-house parties. In addition to a sculpture gallery, the new north wing housed an orangery, a theatre, a Turkish bath, a dairy, a vast new kitchen and numerous servants rooms. In 1830 the Duke increased the guest accommodation by converting suites of rooms into individual guest bedrooms. People invited to stay at Chatsworth spent their days hunting, riding, reading and playing billiards. In the evening formal dinners would take place, followed by music, charades and billiards or conversation in the smoking room for the men. Women would return to their bedroom many times during the day to change their outfits. The guest bedrooms on the east front at Chatsworth are the most complete set from the period to survive with their original furnishings. There is much eastern influence in the decoration, including hand-painted Chinese wallpapers and fabrics typical of Regency taste, which developed in the reign of George IV (1762–1830). Those who stayed at Chatsworth included Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens.
In October 1832, Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria) and her mother, the Duchess of Kent, visited Chatsworth, where the Princess had her first formal adult dinner at the age of 13, in the new dining room. The 6th Duke had another chance to welcome Victoria in 1843, when the Queen and Prince Albert returned to enjoy an array of illumination in the gardens, in the conservatory and on the fountains, forming a scene of "unparalleled display and grandeur", according to one guest.The Duke spent 47 years transforming the house and gardens. A Latin inscription over the fireplace in the Painted Hall translates, "William Spencer, Duke of Devonshire, inherited this most beautiful house from his father in the year 1811, which had been begun in the year of English liberty 1688, and completed it in the year of his bereavement 1840." The year 1688 was that of the Glorious Revolution, supported by the Whig dynasties including the Cavendishes. The year 1840 brought the death of the Duke's beloved niece Blanche, who was married to his heir, the future 7th Duke.
In 1844, the 6th Duke privately printed and published a book called Handbook to Chatsworth and Hardwick, giving a history of the Cavendish family's two main estates. It was praised by Charles Dickens.
## 20th century
Social change and taxes in the early 20th century began to affect the Devonshires' lifestyle. When the 8th Duke died in 1908 over £500,000 of death duties became due. This was a small charge compared with that of 42 years later, but the estate was already burdened with debt from the 6th Duke's extravagances, the failure of the 7th Duke's business ventures at Barrow-in-Furness, and the depression in British agriculture apparent since the 1870s. In 1912 the family sold 25 books printed by William Caxton and a collection of 1,347 volumes of plays acquired by the 6th Duke, including four Shakespeare folios and 39 Shakespeare quartos, to the Huntington Library in California. Tens of thousands of acres of land in Somerset, Sussex and Derbyshire were also sold during or just after the First World War.
In December 1904, King Charles I of Portugal and Queen Maria Amélia stayed at Chatsworth House during their visit to Britain. It snowed almost constantly while they were there and the King reportedly started a snowball fight, in which the assembled ladies enthusiastically joined, when he met the Marquis of Soveral, the Portuguese Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of St James's.In 1920 the family's London mansion, Devonshire House, which occupied a 3-acre (12,000 m2) site in Piccadilly, was sold to developers and demolished. Much of its contents went to Chatsworth and a much smaller house at 2 Carlton Gardens near The Mall was acquired. The Great Conservatory in the garden at Chatsworth was demolished, as it needed 10 men to run it, huge quantities of coal to heat it and all the plants had died during the war, when no coal had been available for non-essential purposes. To reduce running costs further, there was talk of pulling down the 6th Duke's north wing, which was then seen as having no aesthetic or historical value, but nothing came of it. Chiswick House – the celebrated Palladian villa in the suburbs of West London that the Devonshires inherited when the 4th Duke married Lord Burlington's daughter – was sold in 1929 for £80,000 to Middlesex County Council and Brentford and Chiswick Urban District CouncilNonetheless, life at Chatsworth continued much as before. The household was run by a comptroller and domestic staff were still available, although more so in the countryside than the cities. The staff at Chatsworth at the time consisted of a butler, an under-butler, a groom of the chambers, a valet, three footmen, a housekeeper, the Duchess's maid, 11 housemaids, two sewing women, a cook, two kitchen maids, a vegetable maid, two or three scullery maids, two still-room maids, a dairy maid, six laundry maids and the Duchess's secretary. All these 38 or 39 people lived in the house. Daily staff included the odd man, an upholsterer, a scullery maid, two scrubbing women, a laundry porter, a steam boiler man, a coal man, two porter's lodge attendants, two night firemen, a night porter, two window cleaners, and a team of joiners, plumbers and electricians. The Clerk of Works supervised the maintenance of the house and other properties on the estate. There were also grooms, chauffeurs and gamekeepers. The number of garden staff was somewhere between 80 in the 6th Duke's time and the 20 or so in the early 21st century. There was also a librarian, Francis Thompson, who wrote the first book-length account of Chatsworth since the 6th Duke's handbook.
Most of the UK's country houses were put to institutional use in the Second World War. Some of those used as barracks were badly damaged, but the 10th Duke, thinking that schoolgirls would make better tenants than soldiers, arranged for Chatsworth to be occupied by Penrhos College, a girls' public school in Colwyn Bay, Wales. The contents were packed away in 11 days, and in September 1939, 300 girls and their mistresses moved in for a six-year stay. The whole house was used, including the state rooms, which were turned into dormitories. Condensation from the breath of the sleeping girls caused fungus to grow behind some of the pictures. The house was not very comfortable for so many people, with a shortage of hot water, but there were compensations, such as skating on the Canal Pond. The girls grew vegetables in the garden as a contribution to the war effort.
In May 1944 Kathleen Kennedy, sister of John F. Kennedy, married William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, elder son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire. However, he was killed in action in Belgium in September 1944 and Kathleen died in a plane crash in 1948. His younger brother Andrew became the 11th Duke in 1950. He was married to Deborah Mitford, one of the Mitford girls, sister to Nancy Mitford, Diana Mitford, Pamela Mitford, Unity Mitford and Jessica Mitford
The modern history of Chatsworth begins in 1950. The family had yet to move back after the war. Although the 10th Duke had transferred his assets to his son during his lifetime in the hope of avoiding death duties, the Duke died a few weeks too early for the lifetime exemption to apply and tax was charged at 80 per cent on the estate. The amount due was £7 million (£242 million as of 2019). Some of the family's advisors considered the situation irretrievable and there was a proposal to transfer Chatsworth to the nation as a Victoria and Albert Museum of Northern England. Instead, the Duke decided to retain his family's home if he could. He sold tens of thousands of acres of land, transferred Hardwick Hall to the National Trust in lieu of tax, and sold some major works of art from Chatsworth. The family's Sussex house, Compton Place was lent to a school. The effect of the death duties was mitigated to an extent by the historically low value of art in the post-war years and the increase in land values after 1950, during the post-war agricultural revival, and so on the face of it the losses were much less than 80 per cent in terms of physical assets. In Derbyshire 35,000 acres (140 km2) were retained out of 83,000 acres (340 km2). The Bolton Abbey estate in Yorkshire and the Lismore Castle estate in Ireland remained in the family. Still, it took 17 years to complete negotiations with the Inland Revenue, interest being due in the meantime. The Chatsworth Estate is now managed by the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement, established in 1946.
The 10th Duke was pessimistic about the future of houses like Chatsworth and made no plans to move back in after the war. After Penrhos College left in 1945, the only people who slept in the house were two housemaids, but over the winter of 1948–1949 the house was cleaned and tidied for reopening to the public by two Hungarian women, who had been Kathleen Kennedy's cook and housemaid in London, and a team of their compatriots. The house was Grade I listed in 1951 after the passage of the Town and Country Planning Act 1947.In the mid-1950s, the 11th Duke and Duchess began to think about moving in. The pre-war house had relied wholly on a large staff for its comforts, and lacked modern facilities. The building was rewired, the plumbing and heating were overhauled, and six self-contained staff flats created to replace the small staff bedrooms and communal servants' hall. Including those in the staff flats, 17 bathrooms were added to the existing handful. The 6th Duke's cavernous kitchen was abandoned and a new one was created closer to the family dining room. The family rooms were repainted, carpets were brought out of store and curtains were repaired or replaced. The Duke and Duchess and their three children moved across the park from Edensor House in 1959.
In 1981, the trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement, owners of the house, created a new Chatsworth House Trust. The aim was to preserve the house and its setting for "the benefit of the public". The new trust was granted a 99-year lease of the house, its main contents, its grounds, its precincts and adjacent forestry, a total of 1,822 acres (7.37 km2). To legalise this, the Chatsworth House Trust pays a token rent of £1 a year. To facilitate the arrangement and build up a sufficient multi-million-pound endowment fund, the trustees sold works of art, mostly old masters' drawings, which had not been on regular display. The family is represented on the House Trust's Council of Management, but most of the directors are not family members. The Duke pays a market rent for use of his private apartments in the house. The cost of running the house and grounds is about £4 million a year.
## 21st century
The 11th Duke died in 2004 and was succeeded by his son, the current Duke, Peregrine Cavendish, 12th Duke of Devonshire. The 11th Duke's widow, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, died on 24 September 2014. Up until then she was active in promoting the estate and increasing its visitor income. She took on many additions to the gardens, including the maze, the kitchen, the cottage gardens and several commissions of modern sculpture. As Deborah Mitford, she also wrote seven books on various aspects of Chatsworth and its massive property.A structural survey in 2004 showed that major renovation was required. A £32 million programme of works was undertaken, including restoration of stonework, statues, paintings, tapestries and water features. The work, the most extensive for 200 years, took ten years up to 2018.According to the Estate website, Chatsworth remains home to the 12th Duke and Duchess. They are involved in the operation via the Charitable Trust.The Devonshire Collection Archives stored at Chatsworth include 450 years of documents about the family and their two main estates.In 2019, the Duke and Duchess visited Sotheby's to view "Treasures From Chatsworth": art and artifacts from Chatsworth House that would be displayed in New York.
# Things to do