Chatsworth House - Park, Woods and Farmyard

Park, Woods and Farmyard

Chatsworth's park covers about 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) and is open to the public free of charge all year-round, except for the south-east section, known as the Old Park, which is not open since it is used for breeding by the herds of red and fallow deer. Other farm stock also graze in the park, many of which belong to tenant farmers or smallholders, who use the park for summer grazing. Bess of Harwick's park was entirely on the eastern side of the river and only extended as far south as the Emperor Fountain and as far north as the cricket ground. Seven fish ponds were dug to the north-west of the house, where the large, flat area used for events such as the annual Chatsworth Horse Trials and Angling and Country Fairs is now. The bridge across the river was at the southern end of the park and it crossed to the old village of Edensor, which was by the river in full sight of the house.

Capability Brown did at least as much work in the park as he did in the garden. The open, tree-flecked landscape that is admired today is man-made. Brown straightened the river, and there is a network of drainage channels under the grass. The park is fertilised with manure from the estates farms and managed to keep weeds and scrub under control. Brown filled in most of the fishponds and extended the park to the west of the river. At the same time James Paine designed the new bridge to the north of the house, which was set at an angle of 40 degrees to command the best view of the West Front of the house. Most of the houses in Edensor were demolished, and the village was rebuilt out of sight of the house. The hedges between the fields on the west bank of the river were grubbed up to create open parkland, and woods were planted on the horizon. These were arranged in triangular clumps so that the screen of trees could be maintained when each planting had to be felled. Brown's plantings reached their peak in the mid-20th century and are gradually being replaced. The 5th Duke had an elegant red-brick inn built at Edensor to accommodate the increasing numbers of well-to-do travellers who were coming to see Chatsworth. It is now the estate office.

In 1823 the Bachelor Duke acquired the Duke of Rutland's land around Baslow to the north of Chatsworth in exchange for some land elsewhere. He extended the park around half a mile (800 m) north to its present boundary. He also had the remaining cottages from the old Edensor inside the park demolished apart from the home of one old man who did not wish to move, which still stands in isolation in the park today. The houses in Edensor were rebuilt in picturesque pattern-book styles. In the 1860s the 7th Duke had St Peter's Church in Edensor enlarged by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The church's spire embellishes the views from the house, garden and park, and inside there is a remarkable monument to Bess of Hardwick's sons Henry Cavendish and William, 1st Earl of Devonshire. St Peter's in Edensor is also where the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th Duke of Devonshire and their wives are buried. Their remains are not entombed in a vault inside the church but lie, marked by simple headstones, in individual graves in the Cavendish family plot overlooking the churchyard.

On the hills of the eastern side of the park there is Stand Wood, which is named after Stand Tower. At the top of Stand Wood there is a plateau covering several square miles by lakes, woods and moorland. There are public paths through the area and Chatsworth offers guided tours with commentary in a 28-seater trailer pulled by a tractor. This area is the source of the water for all the gravity-fed waterworks in the garden. The Swiss Lake feeds the Cascade and the Emperor Lake feeds the Emperor Fountain. The Bachelor Duke had an aqueduct built, over which water tumbles on its way to the cascade.

The present Dowager Duchess is a keen advocate of rural life, and in 1973 the Chatsworth Farmyard exhibit was opened in the old building yard above the stables. The aim is to explain to those unfamiliar with rural life how food is produced. There are milking demonstrations and displays of rare breeds. An adventure playground was added in 1983, and a venue for talks and exhibitions called Oak Barn was opened by television gardener Alan Titchmarsh in 2005. Chatsworth also runs two annual rural-skills weeks during which demonstrations of agricultural and forestry are given to groups of schoolchildren on the estate farms and woods.

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Famous quotes containing the word woods:

    Whose woods these are I think I know.
    His house is in the village though;
    He will not see me stopping here
    To watch his woods fill up with snow.
    Robert Frost (1874–1963)