New Thing 16 : Chatsworth Farm

TLDR : if Disney did stately home farms they would make this. Bloody loved it.

As you can see from the photos I was biased by the gorgeous weather we had in June. But I still think it is excellent.

Just pulling up to the estate I was a little mind blown by the size of the place. The huge parkland and ancient oak trees, the ridiculous sized house, enormous fountains in the background.

A little history

I say a little as it really is a little. The Chatsworth family come from Bess of Hardwick who lived within view of the estate at Hardwick Hall. Born to an impoverished family she ended up being the second wealthiest woman of her time, after Elizabeth the 1st, as she survived four different wealthy husbands and raked in the inheritance every time.

When Bess married her second husband (20 years older and very rich) she didn’t fancy his land in Suffolk so convinced him to buy Chatsworth in her home of Derbyshire. At this point he was Sir William Cavendish but later their descendents became Dukes and got insanely wealthy and built the huge Chatsworth, running out of bricks and having to take a load from the Old Hardwick Hall which is still in ruins now.

For a while they used Chatsworth as a prison for Mary Queen of Scots. And the only interesting thing I know since then is Debo Mitford (quite a long bit after).

Debo is one of six sisters:

  • Nancy wrote The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate
  • Pamela divorced her millionaire husband so she could spend the rest of her life with an Italian horsewoman (contraversial for an Edwardian born woman)
  • Diana married a fascist and spent time in Holloway prison
  • Unity was obsessed with Hitler and shot herself in the head when Britain declared war on Germany
  • Decca was a communist

Debo initially seemed the boring one. She married a second son who wasn’t due to have much money and her family could barely afford her wedding trousseau. But three years after marrying Andrew his elder brother died in the war and they then became Duke and Duchess.

As well as a novelist who was involved in politics she loved the estate and used to hang out in the farm shop and give people tips on how to cook a joint of meat. The family own ridiculous property including Bolton Abbey and the numerous hotels and pubs, some of which she insisted be decorated in crazy bright colours she thought would be fun.

Unfortunately she died a few years ago, at 95 years old, so you won’t meet her in the shop now.

Back to the point

When you park up the first place you pass through is the courtyard. It’s technically just somewhere for the family to leave their horses and carriages, but it is insane. People get married in the stables, there is a huge cafe, restaurant, multiple shops, loads of outside seating and statues and water features.

In the context of a huge tourist attraction it makes sense, but it is a bit mind blowing to think it was originally just somewhere to house one family’s horses.

We didn’t go in the actual house and grounds as the farm seems more toddler appropriate, and you do not have time to do it all.

The farm itself is set up the hill a little, presumably to not get in the way of the view from the house. Even though it is a tucked away working unit, you can tell it was used by a wealthy family as all the buildings are still fancy (for a farm).

Covid meant the shop was closed but there was a coffee shop with decent espresso and ice cream.

The animals were pretty friendly and we could feed this guy:

And his little mates:

I got a bit keen and took a stupid amount of animal photos that day. But there were plenty of things for Instagram addicts, for example this shiny red tractor:

Toddler fun things

Photo opportunities aside it was really fun for children. They had an area set aside with cars and tractors that we spent way too much time in.

Up the hill again there was a huge play area with big kit for older kids with big climbing and zip lines:

But they also had a really good toddler area with a huge sandpit with a hand pump coming out of the stream running along the back:

Rating : 10 out of 10