Chatsworth stands on the left bank of the River Derwent and looks across the river to the sunset and the low hills that divide the valleys of the Derwent and the Wye. The Park lies for miles open to the sky, and behind the house, hills fall backwards. Up and above and beyond are rocks and bracken and heather.
Rebuiding of the present honey-coloured house in Palladian style was begun in 1687. The south and east fronts were built under the direction of William Talman until 1696. A richly-appointed Baroque suite of state rooms open one from another in an enfilade across the south front. From 1818 to 1827 Sir Jeffry Wyatville added an Italianate North Wing to the Palladian quadrangle.
The house contains a unique collection of priceless paintings, furniture, European Old Master drawings, Neoclassical sculpture and other artefacts.
The gardens had undergone many changes, and when Sir Joseph Paxton took over as Head Gardener, he found a park-like landscape. In 1837, he began the Great Conservatory (with architect Decimus Burton), where the giant Amazon water-lily, Victoria amazonica flowered in captivity for the first time. The tubular veins that support its great pads, six feet across, are said to have provided the inspiration and model for Paxton's Crystal Palace of the Great Exhibition of 1851, for which he was knighted.
In October 1832, Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria) and her mother, the Duchess of Kent, visited Chatsworth. The 6th Duke had another opportunity to welcome Victoria in 1843 when the Queen and Prince Albert returned to be entertained by a large array of illuminated fountains.
In 1944 Kathleen Kennedy, sister of John F. Kennedy, married William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, the elder son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire. However, he was killed in action in Belgium in 1944, and she died in a plane crash in 1948.
After the war, the family was burdened with £7,000,000 of death duties. The 11th Duke sold a large number of paintings and other valuables, and he established a charitable trust which made the house secure for future generations of Cavendishes. The Chatsworth Estate is now managed by the Trustees of the Chatsworth Settlement. The Duchess of Devonshire (Deborah Mitford) is very active in promoting the estate and increasing its visitor income.
Chatsworth is one of only ten members of the Treasure Houses of England heritage consortium.
Chatsworth is also the name of some places in the United States of America: