Elvaston - Lord Harrington's
w/e 23 February
A long, wide, tree lined, grassed avenue leads to this impressive
frontage of Elvaston Castle. The "castle" is actually
a mansion built in Gothic style and was formerly the home of
the Earls of Harrington. Most of the building dates from the
early nineteenth century although part of the eastern wing bears
the date 1633 being the remains of an earlier building.
The "tradesmen's entrance" at the rear of the building
is not quite so impressive but it does show the clock tower to
Passing through the archway under the clock leads to this courtyard.
The castle was the home of the Stanhope family, later to become
the Earls of Harrington, for four centuries. After a long and
illustrious history the castle and grounds were bought jointly
by Derbyshire County Council and Derby Corporation in 1969. Just
one year later Elvaston became the first Country Park to be established
The mansion stands in extensive grounds that, depending on your
source of information, stretch for somewhere between 200 and
390 acres. Passing through the archway from the courtyard leads
to these formal gardens where topiary and box hedges are prominent.
The gardens were originally laid out in the 1830s and 1840s but
have been much restored since.
12th May 2003 - The discrepancy is resolved! I am reliably
informed by Andrew Laxton of Derbyshire County Council's Environmental
Services that "the gardens are 200 acres and the grounds
are 390 acres". Thanks for your help, Andrew.
Adjacent to the house and formal gardens is the church of St
Bartholomew where among the headstones and even more topiary,
early spring flowers add a charm all of their own.
From the formality of the gardens and the charm of the churchyard,
a path leads to an access road where the grandeur of the Golden
Gates may be found. Golden they are called but they have been
painted blue since about 1850. They arrived at Elvaston in 1819
from Versailles where Napoleon Boneparte had taken them from
These are just a few of the attractions at Elvaston, described
in one guide book as a secret oasis bounded by suburban growth
on three sides and in close proximity to the city of Derby. A
nature trail, a lakeside walk, innumerable follies and stone
grottoes together with craft workshops, an information centre
and a working museum, not forgetting the tea rooms, all beckon
the visitor to return a second - and third - time.