Few alterations were made at Chatsworth until the late 17th century. Rebuilding was undertaken by the 4th Earl (from 1694 the 1st Duke) because of concerns about the stability of the Elizabethan structure, and to create a more imposing, comfortable and fashionable house.

The rebuilding took over 20 years to complete, beginning with the South Front, and working anti-clockwise, but often with several sections being altered at the same time and with many changes along the way.

The building accounts of the 1st Duke of Devonshire document the rebuilding of the house over two decades. They include payments to Siberechts (landscape painter), Nadauld (sculptor) and Cheron (painter and illustrator).

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