Although historically but wrongly attributed to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the creation of the Salisbury Lawns and the removal of the old formal gardens occurred prior to his arrival at Chatsworth in 1758, most likely in the 1730s during the time of the 3rd Duke, possibly under advice from William Kent. Kent advocated laying out gardens in a less formal, more natural way.
In recent years, we have had various ecological studies carried out on these lawns which have highlighted the rich variety of grasses, mosses, sedges, wildflowers, fungi and mycorrhiza growing there. In light of these findings, there are no weedkillers or fertilisers used, and the only maintenance that is carried out on these 280 year-old lawns is mowing.
Daily fluctuations in the weather have been noted at Chatsworth more or less continuously since the 18th century. To indulge this interest in the weather, there has been a ‘weather station’ on the Salisbury Lawns for many years. The rain gauge is measured and emptied every day and the hours of sunshine are recorded by a Campbell-Stokes Sunshine Recorder. A small glass sphere focusses the rays from the sun onto a card mounted at the back and set on a stand. The burn marks on the card allows you to read when and for how long the sun has been shining. The Stevenson Screen holds thermometers which record daily minimum, maximum and ambient temperatures.