Chatsworth House might look like it will last forever – in fact it was purposefully designed to look this way – but like any building, it is fragile and requires constant care and attention. The review of the building's structure and services in 2004 showed that major renewal work was needed to improve access and enjoyment for visitors, and to secure Chatsworth for future generations of visitors to enjoy.
The £32.7 million Masterplan began in 2005 and is one of the largest projects undertaken at Chatsworth since the 6th Duke of Devonshire built the north wing between 1820 and 1828. This project is made possible in part by visitor admission revenue and our Friends of Chatsworth programme through the Chatsworth House Trust.
The Masterplan is now in its fourth and final phase, and is scheduled to be completed in 2018.
Scaffolding remains in place on the north façade to enable the stone to be cleaned, repointed and repaired. Rotten stone is being removed and replaced with new stone from Burntwood Quarry, the location of the stone used to build the 6th Duke’s north wing. When all the scaffolding is removed in 2018, the entire house will look beautifully clean like the other façades do today.
Practically every roof will have work done, including replacing lead coverings, installing hundreds of roof vents and thermal insulation, joinery repairs, and rebuilding chimney stacks. The Orangery roof light will also be restored, and solar and UV film will be applied to the glass to keep the building cool in hot summer months.
To date, this programme of essential restoration has conserved the stonework of three façades of the Baroque house built by the 4th Earl (later 1st Duke of Devonshire). The four faces of the courtyard have also been conserved, including the monumental carved stone trophies. In addition, the project has replaced all of the major services in the building.
New galleries and a major redisplay of the Devonshire Collection, together with the installation of a new lift, have improved and significantly extended the visitor route. In fact, the entire house is now wheelchair accessible. Many works of art from the collection have been conserved as part of this project and interiors redecorated. For the first time in over 100 years, Old Master drawings are now able to be exhibited on rotation in a purpose-designed room, the Old Master Drawings Cabinet.
Who is involved?
- A design team is overseeing the project, led by the Duke and Duchess.
- The design team includes the architect Peter Inskip, interiors expert David Milinaric and art historian Jonathan Bourne.
- Head of Special Projects, Sean Doxey, is managing the project with Rupert Symmons at Fanshawe project management.
- Mann Williams is the structural engineering company from Bath.
- Historic building analysis has been carried out by Oliver Jessop, The Jessop Consultancy.
- Hundreds of external contractors from around the country have joined Chatsworth's skilled in-house team.
What will the results of the Masterplan be?
- Fewer stairs on the visitor route and full wheelchair access to all floors.
- New spaces, restored interiors and more space for displays.
- New water, heating and electricity services in the house.
- Repaired and conserved stonework and carvings, inside and out.