Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, Peak District. Home of the Dukes of Devonshire.
The Peak District covers much of Derbyshire and parts of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. There are numerous interesting towns such as Ashbourne, Bakewell, Buxton, Leek, Matlock and Wirksworth, plus many enchanting villages
Chatsworth House and Park
The house and the estate surrounding it have been the home of the Cavendish family for almost 500 years. 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, who was a formidable woman, 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.
William and Bess's son, also called William Cavendish, was created first Earl of Devonshire in 1618 and in 1694 the fourth Earl was created the first Duke of Devonshire - partly as a reward for supporting the Glorious Revolution. 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.
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, but 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.
There is also a 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 - both this and the farmyard are great for kids.
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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 £5.00. 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 costs £3.00
By Bus: The 214 Wirksworth - Sheffield bus comes directly to the door. The 170 Bakewell bus from Chesterfield will bring you to Baslow (at least - from Baslow it is a pleasant walk through the park of about 2km) and alternate buses go directly to Chatsworth. 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 and farmyard are open from 25th March - 10th November. The 1000 acre park and the farmshop and its restaurant are open all year round.
House 11.0am (10.30am in peak season) to 5.30pm, last admission 4.00pm.
Garden 11.00am (10.30am in peak season) to 6.00pm, last admission 5.00pm.
Farmyard and adventure playground 10.30am to 5.30pm, last admission 4.30pm.
All the above are open from 11th November 2017 - 5th January 2018 with similar hours.
What does it cost?
Complete Ticket: Unlimited entry to the house, garden, farmyard & adventure playground, plus a half price return visit, valid for one use on or before 3 November 2017: Adult £21.90, child £14, family 2+3 £60.90.
House and Garden ticket: Adult £19.90, child £12.00, family 2+3 £54.90.
Garden only: Adult £12.90, Child £7.00, Family 2+3 £34.90,
Farmyard and adventure playground - Adult/Senior/Student/Child £6.00, Family 2+3 £22.00.
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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