Picture Post: How Chatsworth House has evolved through the ages

A crescent moon rises above the 105-acre garden at Chatsworth, one of the nation’s most cherished stately homes.

A crescent moon rises above the 105-acre garden at Chatsworth House. Picture Tony Johnson
A crescent moon rises above the 105-acre garden at Chatsworth House. Picture Tony Johnson

Sitting in Derbyshire a few miles from the Yorkshire border, the history of Chatsworth began with Elizabeth Talbot – better known as Bess of Hardwick – who was the second most powerful woman in Elizabethan England after the Queen.

With her second husband Sir William Cavendish, they bought Chatsworth manor for £600 in 1549 and in 1552 began to build the first house on the site.

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Almost 500 years later, Chatsworth remains home to the Cavendish family as the seat of the Duke of Devonshire.

By the 1680s Chatsworth had fallen into a poor state of repair and large-scale restoration work was eventually finished in 1707.

William Spencer Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire who was known as the Bachelor Duke after never getting married, oversaw the building of the long North Wing in the 19th century, as well as famously employing the services of Joseph Paxton as head gardener, who radically changed its appearance with the introduction of exotic species, giant rockeries and a Great Conservatory.

The Chatsworth website explains: “The defining moment of Chatsworth in the 20th century was the opening of the estate to the general public under the 11th Duke and his wife Duchess Deborah.

“Following the 10th Duke’s unexpected death in 1950, the maximum rate of death duties at 80 per cent had to be paid. Some of the most important works of art and many rare books, as well as Hardwick Hall and its estate, were given to the Treasury in lieu of cash. Thousands of acres of land and other assets were sold.

“The ownership of all remaining Derbyshire estates then passed to the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement.

“In 1981 the running of Chatsworth was taken over by the Chatsworth House Trust, a charitable foundation established by the 11th Duke to help ensure the preservation of the house, its essential contents, the garden and the park for the benefit of the general public.”

Technical details: Nikon D3s camera, 28-70mm lens with an exposure of 3 seconds @f9, 320 ISO.

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