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Chatsworth, Derbyshire

Chatsworth is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Since Chatsworth was first built in the early sixteenth century, it has been closely involved with religious disputes that have shaped Britain into modern times. Chatsworth House was first built by Elizabeth Hardwick, and her husband Sir William Cavendish, treasurer to Henry VIII. When the king decided to marry Anne Boleyn, he needed to escape the influence of the pope who refused to grant Henry a divorce from his first wife Catherine of Aragon. In the upheavel of the Reformation that followed, huge amounts of money were taken from dissolved catholic monasteries. From 1532 onwards a significant amount of this appropriated money went to Sir William Cavendish. He was made First Earl of Devonshire, and Chatsworth benefited from William's new found wealth. The Earls of Devonshire remained protestant champions thereafter. The catholic Mary Queen of Scots, was held prisoner by protestant Elizabeth I at Chatsworth on a number of occasions between 1569 and 1584.



Chatsworth was centre stage once again in the religious conflict of 1688's Glorious Revolution. In 1685 Charles II died and was succeeded by his catholic brother James II. James, not bothering to hide his religious inclinations, quickly lost his initial popularity, and by 1688 a group of MPs were sufficiently concerned about his catholic sympathies to consider a move against the king. The Fourth Earl of Devonshire was a central figure in this plan. He met with his fellow conspirators at the Cock and Pynot Inn - now known as Revolution House - in nearby Chesterfield. Here a plan was developed for protestant William of Orange, husband of James II's daughter Mary, to invade from Holland. The original plan was only for William to come to England to coerce James into abandoning his catholicising programme. Parliament was dominated by monarchist tory MPs who still believed in the divine right of kings. They were most confused when in response to William's invasion James fled to Europe without putting up resistance. Parliament argued furiously about what to do. Reluctantly with James gone and refusing to come back, the decision was made to offer the throne to William and Mary who were to rule as joint monarchs. Naturally the government did not want to give an impression of complete and utter confusion, so they pretended that William's invasion, and his taking of the throne, had been planned all along.The events of 1688 were even termed the "Glorious Revolution" to give them a sense of order which in fact they never had.

The Earl of Devonshire was rewarded for his role in the "Glorious Revolution" by being made a duke, and he became the First Duke of Devonshire. The new duke was given a lot of money which he used to make Chatsworth even more grand. Much of the present house dates from this time, and there are many reminders of 1688 and its aftermath in the house. In the Great Chamber a huge ceiling painting by Antonio Verrio, painted between 1691 - 92, portrays a return of the Golden Age, with Virtues overcoming Vices. This refers to William and Mary's arrival in England in 1688.




Grounds at Chatsworth, landscaped by Capability Brown

Outside his house the 1st Duke built a formal garden, a reminder of which can still be seen at Chatsworth. In the eighteenth century Capability Brown created landscaped grounds in a natural English style. This is combined with a later Victorian influence. A giant rockery, recently restored, was built, along with a glass house and the vast Emperor Fountain, which can still project water 280 feet into the air. A more modern influence is seen in the sculptures dotted around the grounds.

Chatsworth has been featured in a number of films including The Duchess, The Wolfman, and as Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice.

Chatsworth has excellent facilities for children. There is a farmyard where children can meet the animals, and a wonderful adventure playground which includes water play and spiral slides.





Opening Times: Please use contact details below.

Address: Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1PP

Directions: Chatsworth, in Derbyshire, is eight miles north of Matlock on the B6012. Leave the M1 at junction 29 and follow signs for Chesterfield. Then follow brown tourist signs for Chatsworth. Bus services are available from Sheffield, Matlock and Derby. Click here for an interactive map centred on Chatsworth.

Access: There is designated parking, manual and electric wheelchairs to borrow, adapted toilets, accessible shop and restaurant, a map outlining accessible routes in the gardens, and a twenty eight seat wheelchair accessible trailer for tours of the grounds. Access in the house itself is poor, but virtual tours are available.


telephone: 01246 565300

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©2006 InfoBritain (updated 11/12)