history of Elvaston Castle
Elvaston Castle was substantially re-built in the early 19th century
by Charles, 3rd Earl of Harrington. It had previously been a manor house
that had been home to the Stanhope family for more than 200 years.
Extensive landscaping of the surrounding parkland and gardens took place
from 1830 under the direction of William Barron in tribute to the 4th
Earl’s wife Maria Foote, an actress who had first become his mistress
and later his wife, causing great scandal.
(for more history, click here)
Elvaston Castle remained a private home until 1851, when the 5th Earl,
Leicester Stanhope, opened the gardens to the public, charging an entrance
fee. It wasn’t until the late 1930s that William Stanhope, the 11th Earl,
left Elvaston for the final time.
From 1939-1950 the Castle housed a teacher training college that had
been evacuated from Derby during the War. The Castle and Estate were sold
to the Needlers Development Company in 1963, who sold them to Derbyshire
County Council in conjunction with Derby Corporation in 1969.
Over the years, the condition of the Castle has declined as the costs
of repairs and renovation have escalated. For many years, regular public
access has been limited to just one room, which is used as a tearoom,
with the occasional use of the Gothic Hall for functions and weddings.
Derbyshire County Council had to find a way to fund the huge amount of work needed to restore it, as well as one that would generate sufficient income to maintain it in the future, without the need for any public money.
The repair of the Castle gardens and park is also tied to finding a solution for the Castle as the Heritage Lottery Fund has insisted there must be a sustainable future for the Castle before it can make a decision on grant funding towards the gardens repair project.