Chatsworth has announced that the wide-open spaces of its world-famous garden and parkland will welcome visitors from Saturday 21 March but that the house, farmyard, adventure playground, gift shops and most of its restaurants will remain closed until further notice.
Chatsworth is a member of the Treasure Houses of England, ten of the most magnificent palaces, stately homes and castles in England. The Chatsworth House Trust is dedicated to the preservation of Chatsworth House, the art collection, garden, woodlands and park for the long-term benefit of the public.
The estate farm shop at the nearby village of Pilsley will remain open and is looking at new ways of serving local communities, particularly elderly and vulnerable people, by extending its home delivery service and increasing the number of products available from its online shop.
Home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, the Derbyshire estate took the decision to restrict entry in response to the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic. While the garden and parkland will open for visitors wanting to take a walk and get some fresh air, ‘social distancing’ and additional hygiene measures have been put in place.
Chatsworth’s 105-acre garden is famous for its rich history, historic and modern waterworks and sculptures, its Victorian rock garden and maze. The spectacular 1,000-acre park on the banks of the River Derwent was chiefly designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the 1760s. Parking charges have been waived at Chatsworth and nearby Calton Lees – entry to the garden is paid for but the parkland is free to all visitors.
The Duke of Devonshire said, “The health and wellbeing of our visitors and staff is paramount and, in the end, that made it an easy decision to restrict entry. At the same time, with so much of the country in shutdown, we wanted to keep the garden and parkland open to visitors because they are big spaces and can still be enjoyed safely.
“It’s a great shame that the treasures in the house will be closed and that children won’t be able to go to the farmyard or adventure playground but, under the circumstances, I’m sure they’ll understand. Everybody is still welcome to come and enjoy Chatsworth and we will open in full again as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
At present, the Dodson & Horrell Chatsworth International Horse Trials (15-17 May) and the Chatsworth Country Fair (4-6 September) are scheduled to go ahead but RHS Chatsworth (11-14 June) has been cancelled. All events, large or small, will remain under review and visitors are advised to check Chatsworth’s website and social media channels for updates before making any plans.
Chatsworth is currently undergoing the biggest transformation of its 105-acre garden since Joseph Paxton’s work finished more than 200 years ago. An undeveloped 15-acre area of the garden, now called Arcadia, is being replanted and reshaped by celebrated garden designer Tom Stuart Smith as part of a total 25-acre redevelopment area that also includes a remodelled Rockery, the Maze borders, the Ravine, and Dan Pearson’s work at the Trout Stream and the Jack Pond.
The project involves the clearance of previously inaccessible areas, large-scale structure installations, new sculpture commissions, the movement and addition of hundreds of tonnes of rock, hundreds of thousands of new plants and hundreds of new trees, as well as new pathways taking visitors into underexplored areas of the garden.
The garden is the product of nearly 500 years of careful cultivation. Although some points of interest have been replaced to make way for new fashions, the garden retains many early features, including the Canal Pond, Cascade and Duke’s Greenhouse. The famous waterworks include the 300-year-old Cascade, the Willow Tree Fountain and the impressive, gravity-fed Emperor Fountain, which reaches heights up to 90m.