Elvaston Castle Derbyshire

The Elvaston Estate can be traced back to the 11th Century. In the ‘Boudoir’ there are stairs up to the Valet’s Quarters – it is speculated that this was a way for the masters of the house get to the servant’s quarters. The Anselin families were one of the original owners of the manor, then the Musards of Savely, before being bought by Sir Walter Blount in 1420. The estate then passed through several families until it came into the hands of the Stanhope family. John Stanhope of Elvaston and Shelford was knighted in 1603. He died in 1610, his tomb can still be seen at Elvaston Church.

During the Civil War Sir John Gell led his troops of roundheads against Elvaston, they raided the manor and the church, thrusting swords into the family coffins. Although Sir John’s tomb was restored it still shows some of the original damage as does the wall of the church. A new house was commissioned by Charles Stanhope and was built in 1633. The Stanhope family would remain in residence for over a century. Charles, who was the 3rd Earl, was a popular man and made it into the house we see today including adding the gothic facades, a new Great Hall to the west and a new wing to the North West. In 1829 Charles’s son, The Fourth Earl of Harrington, inherited the title and estate when he was nearly 50. He married Maria Foote in 1831, a Covent Garden actress who was 17 years younger than him. Their affair was frowned upon by the previous Earl and other members of the family. Elvaston became their home shortly after their wedding. He was obsessed about his wife and due to this he set about creating an oasis for his wife and himself, whom he would not let leave the property or allowed any visitors. He employed the William Barron to design and create the gardens.

The 5th Earl Leicester Stanhope succeeded his brother and followed in the family tradition and went into the army and political life. It was also at this time that Elvaston was opened to the public for the first time. In 1823 he went to Missolonghi in Greece. Leicester died in 1862 and was succeeded by his son Seymour who was 16; he only survived for 4 more years. The title passed onto his cousin Charles (the son of Fitzroy Stanhope) who was in his late 50’s. He was addicted to playing and making violins. The house then continued in this family. It was then put up for sale in 1966 and Derbyshire County Council and the then Derby County Borough Council were the joint purchasers. Who restored the gardens and opened it to the public in 1970. Unfortunately the costs were proving too high for it be maintained and Elvaston was put up for sale, which has not been successful, and its condition continues to deteriorate while security for its future is found.

There are a few ghosts that are said to be at the castle including a grey lady, a maid who is seen mainly in the kitchen and a man on the upper floors also strange noises have been heard and doors are unable to be opened for no obvious reason.

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