The Chatsworth Estate

Chatsworth EstateThe Chatsworth Estate


Chatsworth is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and has been home to the Cavendish family since December 1549.Hundreds of thousands of people visit every year and see Chatsworth’s public face; the house and its contents, the garden and its waterworks, the park, the farmyard and adventure playground. There are shops and restaurants, and free access to miles of footpaths in the park and woodland. The Chatsworth estate itself extends much further, covering 14,000 hectares (about 35,000 acres) of Derbyshire and Staffordshire, encompassing farms, woods, moor-land, rivers, villages, quarries and other industries, large and small.

The estate plays an important role in Derbyshire as an employer, a place of recreation and a contributor to good causes. It is estimated that more than a million people use the estate in some way every year and several thousand depend on it for all or part of their annual income. Between 1949 and 2005, Chatsworth welcomed more than 19 million paying visitors.

Chatsworth and the visitor

Fundamental to the way Chatsworth is managed is the effort to make all visitors to the Estate feel truly welcome. Where possible people are left to wander at their own pace, unlimited by restrictive rules or unfriendly notices. Welcoming so many people to walk and play on land that is also a working, commercial farm and a historic landscape needing protection is not a conflict, but rather a virtuous cycle which encourages more people to use, enjoy and understand the land, its history and current management.The primary aim of the owners is to maintain and improve the Estate for future generations. Everything you see at Chatsworth has come about through careful management over hundreds of years and the work of generations of skilled staff. The stewardship of the land and its businesses must ensure that its long standing communities will continue to prosper. The Estate must run as a modern, self-supporting business, keeping the best of the past but using modern techniques and technology where necessary. The economic activity of the Estate is carried out within a policy that insists on the protection of its flora and fauna, and the very special landscape that has evolved over many centuries. We ask visitors to respect this unique and historic working landscape and to leave it as they found it.

In 2001 Chatsworth extended the season by seven weeks into November and December to recover from the effects of foot and mouth. Unprecedented numbers of visitors came to see the specially decorated house and floodlit garden, and annual Christmas opening has since become one of the busiest times of the season.Each year the Duke and Duchess invite many different charities to hold concerts, fashion shows, coffee mornings and other events in the house, garden, restaurant and park. Estate staff play a large part in the planning and organisation of large scale public events in the park, such as the International Horse Trials, the Rally Show, open air concerts and the Country Fair, all of which attract many thousands of visitors. Some of the money raised by these events contributes to the maintenance of the house, garden and park, and large sums are given to local and national charities.

The Chatsworth House Trust

In 1981 the house, its essential contents, the garden, park (including the farmyard) and some woodland were leased by the Chatsworth Settlement Trustees for 99 years to a charitable foundation, the Chatsworth House Trust. This Trust was formed to protect Chatsworth from future capital taxation, and thus ensure its long term preservation for the benefit of the public. An endowment fund was provided by the 11th Duke, and the income from this goes towards the running costs of the house. The upkeep is now the responsibility of a Council of Management, which has a majority of non-family members. The 12th Duke and Duchess remain involved in all aspects of the management and future development of the estate.

All admission money from visitors to the house, garden, farmyard and car park supports the work of the Chatsworth House Trust. This includes the renewal and restoration of the fabric of the House, Stables, garden buildings and waterworks, the cleaning of painted ceilings and walls and major conservation of furniture.

Managing the Estate

The Chatsworth estate is run by a Land Agent, who is answerable directly to the Duke and his Trustees, and administered from an Estate Office, on the edge of the park near the village of Edensor. This 18th century building was originally a hotel for visitors to Chatsworth, which has always been open to the public.

The five main areas of the Estate:-

The Main Estate comprises the house itself and 4982 hectares surrounding it including the park and the villages of Baslow, Pilsley, Edensor, Beeley and Calton Lees. Most Chatsworth employees and pensioners live in these villages, which are wholly or part owned by the Trustees.

The West Estate comprises 2630 hectares and includes land and houses in Bakewell, Ashford, Wetton, Monyash and Buxton. Most of this high ground is made up of stock rearing farms.

The Shottle Estate comprises 1424 hectares and includes farms and buildings in and around Shottle, near Belper. This land is suited to both stock and arable enterprises. The majority of Chatsworth’s dairy farmers live here.

The Staveley Estate, north east of Chesterfield, comprises 1376 hectares and includes both farmland and industrial sites, including Staveley Chemicals and the Staveley Foundry.

The Scarcliffe Estate, east of Chesterfield, comprises 3772 hectares and consists of mostly arable farms, woods and houses in and around Elmton, Whaley, Scarcliffe, Heath, Rowthorne and Palterton. In 1968 the M1 Motorway was constructed in this part of Derbyshire and the land on which Junction 29 now stands was purchased from Chatsworth.

The five main areas of the Estate are divided roughly into two categories: the ‘in-hand’ estate, which means all the farming and other businesses which are both owned and managed by Chatsworth; and the ‘let’ estate, which means farming and other enterprises which are on estate land and are rented by tenants.

The ‘In-Hand’ Estate: The Trustees farm approximately 2500 of the Estates 14,000 hectares ‘in-hand’, in two separately managed blocks. Elm Tree farm is a 400 hectare “in-hand” arable farm east of Chesterfield, about 20 miles from Chatsworth. Wheat, barley, potatoes and oilseed rape are grown on this flatter, more fertile land. The grassland surrounding Chatsworth is used for dairy, beef and sheep production. The sheer scale of this land, over five miles from end to end, and the fact that both the moor

and the park are huge open areas used for public recreation as well as for grazing, present particular problems to Chatsworth’s farmers.