Chatsworth House - History and Facts | History Hit

Chatsworth House

Bakewell, Derbyshire, United Kingdom

Lily Johnson

28 Jan 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Chatsworth House

Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is a historic English country estate that has served as the home of the Dukes of Devonshire and their ancestors since the mid-16th century. It is one of the finest country houses in the Peak District, drawing countless visitors into its opulent halls every year.

Chatsworth House history

The first house to be built on the Chatsworth House site was constructed in 1549 by Bess of Hardwick and her husband Sir William Cavendish. This original estate was notable for its use as a prison for Mary Queen of Scots, who was kept here on several occasions between 1569 and 1584. Little remains of the original structure except the Hunting Tower which still stands on the hill behind Chatsworth House.

It was not until 1686 that the 1st Duke of Devonshire began a major re-building programme at the house, constructing most of what survives today. While the 2nd and 3rd Dukes largely left the architecture of the house alone, they amassed its huge collection of notable artwork, from Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture to Old Master drawings. 

The famous socialite Lady Georgiana Spencer and the 5th Duke of Devonshire lived here in the 18th century, while in the 19th the eccentric 6th Duke of Devonshire, or ‘the Bachelor Duke’, occupied its halls. Queen Victoria came to stay many times during his residency. 

Chatsworth today

Today Chatsworth House is open to the public and is operated by the Chatsworth House Trust. The house boasts a wealth of interesting art, furniture and antiques as well as exceptional architecture throughout a number of its stunning rooms. A must-see at Chatsworth House is the amazing Devonshire Collection, which displays an array of interesting items from the family’s personal collections.

The estate has a wonderful 105-acre garden which is also open to the public and includes a large maze, farmyard, and adventure playground. Wild-swimming often takes place in the river, while at Christmas Chatsworth is famously redecorated for immense festive celebrations. 

Getting to Chatsworth

Chatsworth is located in Baslow in the Peak District. It is situated on the B6012, and can be easily reached from the M1 and A6. Chatsworth is a 30-minute drive from Chesterfield railway station, and a 40 minute drive from Sheffield railway station, and has two carparks onsite.

A number of bus services operate in the area, with most stopping a short walk from the site at Chatsworth House Stop.

Featured In

Mary Queen of Scots

Discover the historical places relating to Mary Queen of Scots, from Fotheringhay Castle, Lochleven Castle, and more.

Derbyshire's Historic Sites

Discover the historic marvels of Derbyshire, from the magnificent Hardwick Hall and Chatsworth House to Cromford Mill, the cradle of the Industrial revolution.

Top Historic Sites in the Peak District

Discover 10 of the Peak District's best historic sites, from the eminent Chatsworth House to the mysterious Lud's Church. While renown for some of the UK's most breathtaking natural sites, the Peak District is also home to a wealth of history spanning from the Bronze Age to World War Two.