Chatsworth House Trust has announced the launch of a major fundraising campaign to restore the much-loved Cascade.

The Cascade’s restoration is the latest initiative from the charity to celebrate Chatsworth’s significant heritage, and to protect and preserve it for future generations to enjoy.  

Chatsworth House Trust is a registered charity that exists to maintain the house and its collections, garden, woodlands, and park for everyone to enjoy. It relies on income from visitors and supporters, with every penny from ticket sales, membership and Gift Aid reinvested in an ever-expanding programme of essential conservation, and an extensive learning and inclusion programme.

As part of the fundraising campaign, the Trust is asking for support from the many people who love the Cascade to help raise a small portion of the vital funds needed to restore it to full working glory. Supporters are invited to ‘sponsor a stone’ for themselves, their family or a friend, in return for a certificate that will identify the location of the stone they have sponsored.

For many years, water has been leaking through the mortar and joints in the Cascade’s stonework into the surrounding landscape and down into a tunnel driven underneath the fountain in the 19th century to supply the Great Conservatory with coal. The urgently needed restoration will cost £7 million and will take several years to complete.
As part of the restoration project, the Trust is working with schools and local charities to create learning programmes around the history and engineering of the Cascade and the works to restore it, as well as events to celebrate the health and wellbeing benefits of being in nature and near water.

Above - the Cascade in full flow, circa late 1980's - early 1990s

Built over 325 years ago, the Cascade is a feat of engineering, nature-inspired design and sustainability. It forms part of a complex system of waterworks that use the natural incline of the landscape to channel water from the moors to the river, feeding the garden water features and, since 1893, powering a turbine that provides electricity for the house before flowing into the River Derwent.

The Grade I listed monument includes a temple housing 13 spouts and fountains from which water normally runs down over 23 different shaped and textured giant stone steps, each formed of over 100 individual stones. 

Sadly for the many visitors who love to paddle in the water, the Cascade has now been turned off due to the severe deterioration of the structure.

Above - the water artery at Chatsworth

Sarah Owen, Director of Development at Chatsworth, said: “The Cascade is one of the most popular features at Chatsworth and ‘Celebrating the Cascade’ is a major project to ensure its long-term preservation for visitors for years to come.

“As well as raising vital funds for the restoration, we hope this project will also be a positive step in helping to continue to diversify and widen the reach and engagement of people who may not previously have considered Chatsworth a place for them. Our aim is to encourage greater access, with the creation of a public outreach programme to make the Cascade, and the entire garden at Chatsworth, feel more accessible and exciting for visitors and learners of all ages, and with a wide range of needs.”

The launch of the campaign comes after the charity was granted £422,000 in funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. This award, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, helped kick-start the ‘Celebrating the Cascade’ project in April 2023, working closely with partners such as Derbyshire MIND to explore the wellbeing benefits of visiting the Cascade, and the Cavendish Learning Trust for STEAM learning programmes.

Miles Stevenson, Philanthropy Manager at Chatsworth, added: “We know the Cascade is one of our most loved attractions, where generations of people have played and created memories with their families, and many of our visitors are sad to see it has been turned off.

Collectively, lots of small donations will have a huge impact. Every donation, no matter how large or small will be received with gratitude. This fundraising campaign is an opportunity to be a part of Chatsworth’s history and to preserve the Cascade for future generations.

The Trust’s goal is to raise £250,000 from donations big and small from visitors and Friends. This vital support will help when the Trust applies for further funding of nearly £5 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

To find out more about the project and to become a part of this exciting chapter of the Cascade’s history by sponsoring a stone, visit the dedicated campaign website. 


Header image and images 2 and 5 © Peter Landers Photography, reproduced with kind permission

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