Elvaston - Lord Harrington's Castle
w/e 23 February 2003

Elvaston Castle

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 Clock Tower

The "tradesmen's entrance" at the rear of the building is not quite so impressive but it does show the clock tower to good effect.
The Courtyard

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 in England.
The Formal Gardens

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.
St Bartholomew's Church

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.
The Golden Gates

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 Spain.

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.

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