The first house at Chatsworth was built by Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury in 1552. Chatsworth has been the home of the Cavendish family, Dukes of Devonshire ever since.
In 1686 the 4th Earl, later 1st Duke of Devonshire, began to demolish parts of the house to make way for the Baroque palace designed by Thomas Archer.
He also rebuilt the west front and lived just long enough to see his house completed. Only the state dining room and sculpture gallery remain from the original building. The 6th Duke added a new wing 130 years later.
The interior is magnificent.
In the Hall the entire ceiling and upper walls were painted by Louis Laguerre in 1692 to show scenes from the life of Julius Caesar. The 17th century state rooms are virtually unaltered. They are decorated and furnished in a grand style and display fine works of art and splendid Mortlake tapestries. The State Music Room has a very convincing 'trompe-l'oeil' painting by Jan van der Vaart of a violin on an inner door.
The State Bedroom contains a bed which belonged to George II and was presented to the 4th Duke on the King's death. The Library has over 17,000 volumes. The Oak Room is the oldest room at Chatsworth and has oak panelling and carved heads from a German monastery purchased by the 6th Duke. The chapel is embellished with works of art and marble.
Chatsworth houses a collection of European and Oriental porcelain and a dazzling display of silver. There are paintings by old masters such as Rembrant, Van Dyck, Tintoretto and Landseer. In addition there is sculpture by Cibber and Canova as well as a collection of neo-classical sculpture.
The present Duke is also a collector and amongst the works he has added is sculpture by Angela Corner and Elizabeth Frink and paintings by Lucian Freud.
The 105 acres of garden and parkland were developed in three stages. The Willow Tree fountain, Cascade and and Canal survive from the 1st Duke's formal garden.
During the 1760 the park and gardens were landscaped by 'Capability' Brown. Sir Joseph Paxton was employed by the 6th Duke to design a series of greenhouses, build rockeries and plant rare trees and shrubs. He was also responsible for the Emperor fountain which is the tallest gravity fed fountain in the World. In recent years the Rose, Kitchen and Cottage gardens have been added together with the Serpentine Hedge. The Maze is planted on the site of Sir Joseph Paxton's Great Conservatory.