Chatsworth, 'The Palace of the Peak,' was named Britain's Best Stately Home in Period Living and Traditional Homes magazine's Best of British Awards 2004-2005. Over 200,000 votes were cast when readers of the market leading magazine were asked to nominate the aspects of traditional British life that they love best.
The first house at Chatsworth was built by 'Bess of Hardwick' and her second husband Sir William Cavendish. Building began in 1552 and the work was completed by his widow after Sir William died in 1557.
Today, Chatsworth is one of the Treasure Houses of England with fine furniture, sculpture, tapestry, paintings and other works of art. Set in beautiful surroundings, in the heart of the Peak District National Park, it attracts admiring visitors from all over the world.
Laid out by 'Capability' Brown in the 1760s, the 1000 acre park is mostly open to the public free of charge throughout the year. The grass is grazed by sheep and cattle and a large herd of deer which can usually be seen as you walk through the park. The road that winds its way through the parkland provides a magnificent view of Chatsworth House. You look across the River Derwent to the west and south front, with its neat lawns sloping up the bank to the woods that provide a superb backcloth.
The estate villages of Beeley, Edensor and Pilsley, are without doubt three of the most attractive villages in the Peak National Park. They tend to share facilities; Pilsley has the school and a pub, Edensor a church and institute and Beeley a church and a pub. Both pubs are called the Devonshire Arms, which can cause confusion at times. There are teashops in all the villages, the one at Pilsley being part of the highly successful farm shop complex.
Edensor, pronounced ‘Ensor’, is mentioned in the Domesday Book, but since then the village has been re-sited. Originally it lay between the river and the road through the Park, when the houses were set out in a straggling line down to the Derwent. This did not appeal to the fourth Duke of Devonshire who having spent considerable money and effort improving the House, redesigning the gardens and building a grand new bridge over the river, decided to take down those houses visible from the House. The tenants were re-housed in the nearby estate villages of Pilsley and Beeley. The sixth Duke completed the dismantling of the old village and built the present one.
Joseph Paxton, who remodelled and landscaped the gardens at Chatsworth, chose the site for the new village, but it was John Robertson a relatively unknown architect from Derby who provided the designs. At that time aspiring young architects such as Robertson would prepare a book of house plans as part of their training.
It is thought that Robertson approached the Duke to show him the plans when he was busy with other matters and that after quickly looking through them he could not make up his mind and chose all the different styles in the book. The designs ranging from Norman to Jacobean, Swiss-style to Italian villas are all here at Edensor. A few of the old houses remained virtually untouched including parts of the old vicarage, two cottages overlooking the green and the old farmhouse which now houses the village shop and tea rooms.
Beeley is a pretty, unspoilt village sheltered by Beeley Moor with wonderful views in all directions. It had acquired its present shape and size by 1800. With the exception of a small group of properties built in recent years on the Chesterfield Road, it has remained remarkably unchanged for over 200 years. The same does not apply to the use of the buildings: the school, schoolhouse, post office and reading room are all now private houses. Dukes Barn built in 1791, to house the estate carts used to carry coal from Rowsley Station, is now a residential study centre.
What makes the village so beautiful is that almost all the farm and domestic buildings are built from the same honey coloured sandstone, quarried locally close to Fallinge Edge. The local stone quarries once gave employment to a large number of men. The two quarries at Bruntwood produced stone not only of good appearance, but also of such hardwearing quality that it was used in many of the principal buildings in Manchester.
There are two Pilsleys in Derbyshire, the former mining village near to Clay Cross in North East Derbyshire and the Chatsworth Estate Village which this feature covers.
It lies about one mile east of Chatsworth House, and with Edensor and Beeley makes up the three Chatsworth Estate villages. They tend to share facilities; Pilsley has the school and a pub, Edensor a church and institute and Beeley a church and a pub. Both pubs are called the Devonshire Arms, which can cause confusion at times.
Pilsley is an attractive, unspoilt village with magnificent views over the Derwent Valley. The limestone cottages are enriched by gardens full of colour, many of the occupiers having learned the craft in the gardens at Chatsworth House. Some describe it has a sleepy little village, but fail to take into account that the popular Chatsworth Farm Shop is located in Pilsley. It has been so successful further expansion of the Farm Shop has taken place, including an enlargement of the catering facilities.
In 1839, Paxton built the village school and some of the other houses in the village, but not the group near to the Devonshire Arms that were built more than a century earlier. Many of the houses round the green were constructed during the period when the sixth Duke of Devonshire was knocking down and rebuilding Edensor, out of sight of Chatsworth House.
The Painted Hall. © Simon Wharton, Westside magazine
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PLACES OF INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Chatsworth House, Garden, Farmyard and Adventure Playground (Tel. 01246 582204) visitors are free to wander in the magnificent grounds The house stands in a deer park laid out by ‘Capability’ Brown in the 18th century, with hills and woods. Shop and Restaurant facilities are available. The house is open daily from 12 March to 23 December 2008. The park is open all year.
Bakewell is set in an enviable location on the banks of the River Wye, in the heart of the Peak District. Visitors flock to Bakewell in the summer, to shop and explore its many nooks and cranies, to admire its fine buildings, or just relax and feed the ducks by the lovely, clear, sparkling waters of the River Wye. There is more space in the winter, but on a sunny day even, that is limited.
Chatsworth Estate Farm Shop (Tel. 01246 583392) situated at Pilsley one and a half miles from Chatsworth House, at what used to be the Stud Farm and later became a milking parlour. Then in 1977, the Duchess of Devonshire opened The Farm Shop in the former Tack Room, selling beef and lamb from the estate. As the shop has become more successful, it has expanded to include a whole range of products. Further expansion has taken place in 2004 and 2008. Open daily.
Devonshire Arms (Tel 01246 583258) built in about 1700, incorporating an oak beamed ceiling, thick stone walls and open fires it personifies the image of the traditional country pub. A speciality is the fortnightly country and western musical evenings.. Home cooked food is served at lunchtime seven days a week. Carvery meals are served in the evenings from Thursday to Saturday.
Chatsworth Farm Shop Restaurant (Tel 01246 583392) this smart restaurant at the Chatsworth Estate Farm Shop, is extremely popular since it was enlarged in 2004. Open daily, providing a good range of hot and cold food.
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
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A special new sub-section has been added to this website, based on the Discover Derby Supplement, published by the Derby Evening Telegraph during March 2005. The most recent additions are:
Click below for details.
An outstanding walk with excellent views and with Beeley, Chatsworth House, Baslow, Pilsley and Edensor all on the route, this walk could take a considerable time to complete with so many fascinating places to explore.
From Beeley the path climbs up to Beeley Hilltop Farm and then across the bracken clad hillside on the edge of Beeley Moor, to follow a woodland track high above Chatsworth House and gardens.
After passing both the Swiss Lake and the Emperor Lake, you arrive at the Hunting Tower. The route continues through Chatsworth Park close to the banks of the River Derwent, passing the lovely little estate cricket ground on the way to Baslow.
The walk continues through fields, before descending steeply to the A619 and then climbing sharply up through the attractive estate village of Pilsley.
After a short walk towards Ballcross a rough track leads down to Edensor. The splendid collection of differently designed houses makes you feel, when you leave, as if you had been on a whistle stop tour of Europe.
All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.