The magnificent Chatsworth House: one of the most popular stately homes in Britain inhabited by the same family since its construction

Katerina Bulovska

Chatsworth House, considered by many as the most beautiful grand houses in England, can be found nestled amongst the rolling hills of Britain’s rural Derbyshire Dales. The area is famous for its abundance of stately homes that haven’t changed much since the days of their former glory.

These historic houses offer a glimpse into a world of grandeur and opulence and an opportunity to admire mezmerising collections priceless antiques.

Construction of the house was initiated in 1552 by Bess of Hardwick, the second wealthiest woman in Tudor England, and her second husband Sir William Cavendish. It has been home to the wealthy aristocratic Cavendish family ever since.

After the death of her husband, Bess remarried to George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury. Talbot was a custodian of Mary, Queen of Scots during her 18 years of imprisonment by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England.

The Scottish Queen was lodged at Chatsworth House a number of times between 1569 and 1584.

Chatsworth House. Author: Gareth Williams. CC BY 2.0

Over the years, as the owners changed, the house was extended and remodeled.

The biggest alterations took place in 1686, when William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Devonshire, built the Long Gallery and the West, East and North Fronts, as well as new family quarters and the splendid State apartments designed especially for the visit of King William and Queen Mary.

The Duke also commissioned the French hydraulics engineer, Grillet, to construct the beautiful Cascade and created the extensive formal gardens.

The house has been home to the same family since its construction and nowadays Peregrine Cavendish, 12th Duke of Devonshire, is custodian of the magnificent residence that is open to the public.

Painted Hall. Author: Martin Hartland. CC BY 2.0

The interior of the house is exquisite and lavishly decorated with rare and beautiful artifacts.

The Painted Hall with its striking black and white marble floor is the entrance to the opulence and luxury of the other rooms. It is named after the ceiling that illustrates the death of Julius Caesar, painted in 1687.

Upon inheriting the property, the 6th Duke of Devonshire, William Spencer Cavendish, turned the Long Gallery into a library. Approximately 40,000 books adorn its dark wooden shelves.

These include collections handmade by monks from the Middle Ages, and the book of magic known as The Key of Solomon. The yellowing pages of the 500 year old book are written with spells in Latin, and depicted with occult imagery like the pentagram.

Another highlight of the house is the Sculpture Gallery, also created by the 6th Duke of Devonshire.

The library. Author: Sb2s3. CC BY-SA 4.0

The suite of rooms where Queen Mary I of Scotland stayed between 1573 and 1582, is still known as the Queen of Scots Apartments, although the interior design is drastically changed.

After the death of King George II, his bed was gifted to the Duke of Devonshire and today is on display in one of the State apartments.

Queen of Scots Apartment. Author: Jerrye & Roy Klotz, MD. CC BY-SA 3.0

The famous tapestries that were woven in Mortlake in 1635 are in the impressive State Drawing Room.

The room is also ornamented with an enormous silver chandelier and decorative mirrors, Chinese porcelain, Japanese lacquer cabinets, and Italian baroque paintings.

State Drawing Room, Chatsworth House – Derbyshire, England.

The house is famous for its numerous art collections and among the artifacts is an ancient Greek marble foot that dates back to the first century BC.

The south gallery holds portraits of the 5th Duke and his famous Duchess Georgiana, while the west gallery includes furniture designed by the pioneering designer William Kent.

Dining Room, Chatsworth House – Derbyshire, England.

The beautifully landscaped gardens that surround the house haven’t changed much since the alterations in 1826. The modification began with the 4th Duke and the English landscape designer Lancelot Brown, known as “Capability Brown”.

They gave a more natural look to the formal garden, but it was architect and gardener Joseph Paxton, under direction of the 6th Duke, who modeled the garden as seen today.

Their most famous creation is the Emperor Fountain in the Canal Pond, designed for the visit of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. The Great Conservatory was also designed in this period, but later it was replaced by the Maze.

Emperor Fountain

The impressive Chatsworth House hasn’t gone unnoticed by the film industry.

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In the 2005 movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, Chatsworth House was the filming location for Pemberley, home of the proud and wealthy Mr. Darcy.