Access Policy

Our Access Policy for the Archives and Library outlines in detail the various ways in which we provide access to the collections.


We receive a high volume of research enquiries to which we reply in order of receipt. We aim to reply to enquiries within three weeks where possible, but we are not always able to respond fully within that timeframe. Information about the archives (and in some cases links to detailed catalogues) can be found in our guides to the Family Papers and Estate Papers, and overviews of our collections are now also being submitted to the Archives Hub. Please consult these web pages prior to submitting an enquiry. Although detailed online catalogues are not yet available for all the archives, we do have further finding aids in various formats which we can supply via email. View contact details.

We are unable to spend longer than an absolute maximum of one hour on any single enquiry, and we do not offer a paid research service. We will assess enquiries on receipt, and if we believe our collections may yield useful results but only with detailed research that will take longer than an hour to undertake, we will inform you of this. Where this applies, you are welcome to visit the Study Room to undertake your own research, or to contact the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives, who may be able to undertake the work for a fee.

Family history and house history enquiries

If you believe you have ancestors who may have worked at Chatsworth or other Cavendish properties, or lived on one of the Devonshire estates, please have a look at our freely available Staff and Servants database. This has been compiled over many years using a wide range of archival sources and currently contains information about nearly 4,500 individuals. We plan to continue developing this resource but at the present time, if a person’s name is not recorded in the database, we regret that we will not be able to supply information about them.

We are unable to answer enquiries relating to the history of individual estate (or former estate) properties. We hold the surviving records of several estate offices, but the quality and extent of these records is highly variable. The archives do not contain information about dates of construction for individual buildings, and there are no historic photographs of estate properties. Many of our estate archives are not fully catalogued, and extracting even very basic information about individual properties can be extremely time consuming. We therefore regret that we are unable to undertake this kind of research.

Personal research visits

Study Room closure

Due to essential work within the house in spring 2023, we need to relocate our Collections Study Room to a new space. The Study Room will therefore be closed from the beginning of February until the end of May. We hope to welcome researchers back in June, and once we have a firm opening date we will announce it on this page. We will continue to offer a remote enquiry and copying service during the closure period, and will be working on projects to improve access to the collections.

Copies of collection items

Self-service photography

Researchers may take their own photographs of collection items for the purposes of non-commercial research and private study using a camera, phone or tablet. The charge for this is £15 per day, which is payable by cash, cheque or bank transfer. You will also be asked to fill in a copyright declaration form.

Ordering copies

The Archives and Library team can provide images for non-commercial research or private study purposes. Please contact us on with details of your request. Currently, we are able to supply JPEG images of documents and bound items up to A2 in size, depending on the condition of the material.  Our current prices are:

  • £3 per image (including VAT) for images we already have in stock.
  • £6 per image (including VAT) for new images.

If you wish to reproduce an image in a publication or online, you must obtain a publication-quality image and a license. All licensing enquiries should be directed to

Contact details

Archives and Library
Collections and Exhibitions Department
Derbyshire DE45 1PP

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