These casks were referred to as 'the twelve Apostles' by the 6th Duke of Devonshire in his Handbook of Chatsworth and Hardwick (1844).
These large oak casks in the cellars of Chatsworth would have originally been used to store beer. The ends of the casks are carved with the arms of the 1st Duke; the carving is traditionally attributed to Samuel Watson who carried out a large amount of decorative carving in both wood and stone throughout Chatsworth.
Beer was brewed at Chatsworth above the stable block, and carried to the house through an underground pipe. This was a contrivance installed by the 6th Duke and, again, described in his handbook as: '1059 feet long [and] of three inch bore, the idea of which always gives me a longing, on some great occasion, to form a fountain of that liquid'.
During the early 20th century, it was discovered that the gardeners had inserted a tap into the pipe near the Rose Garden. This enabled them to illicitly siphon off beer whenever they wanted. Today, this episode has given its name to a brand of beer available at Chatsworth called 'Gardener's Tap'.