In 2011, the Master Plan team uncovered a sough under the west front of the house, which had water running through it. This wasn’t unusual, because ‘sough’ is the Derbyshire name for a land drain, and this one was serving its purpose by draining water from the garden water features. The puzzle was that at the time, all the Garden water features were turned off. The answer was traced back to the sough, where it was discovered that the water was draining from the overflow of the Squirting Willow Tree Pond. Luckily, it was also discovered that 2 metres away from the south west corner of the house, the sough had partially collapsed, which had caused the foundations of the house to soften, and after close inspection, was revealed to have created a structural crack running from the ground floor to the roof of the house.

We have no idea when this happened, but the sough is over 200 years old, and could even predate the 1st Duke (who commissioned the original Willow Tree Fountain). We are now working to repair this damage which is what you may be able to see being carried out on the south front. Who knows what we will uncover once we start digging, let’s hope we’ll find more of the earlier Elizabethan Chatsworth!

Sean Doxey
Head of Special Projects

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