The Cascade Project - Chatsworth House Trust

Celebrating the Cascade

With your support we can bring the Cascade back to life.

Together We Can
Turn It Back On

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The Cascade

The Cascade at Chatsworth has been the centrepiece of the garden for over 300 years. Built in the 1690s to great wonder and amazement, the Cascade was an engineering feat of its time. It is now cared for by Chatsworth House Trust and remains one of the most loved features of the garden.

Unfortunately, centuries of use have weakened the Cascade and serious water leakage through the stones has put it at significant structural risk. To prevent further deterioration, the Cascade has been turned off and the water will not flow for the foreseeable future.

Chatsworth House Trust now needs to undertake a major restoration project to preserve and safeguard the Cascade for future generations.

Donate Today

Loved By All

The Cascade has delighted visitors for generations. Families come to play and picnic next to it and many visitors recall fond memories of childhood encounters. For many the Cascade is a cherished feature of the garden at Chatsworth.

As a charity, we aim to have a positive impact on people's lives. Alongside the restoration, we will work with schools and local charities to design learning programmes and promote the health and wellbeing benefits of being in nature. We will encourage new visitors to visit the garden - particularly those who may not think of Chatsworth as a place for them - and we will tell the stories of the Cascade's history, ingenuity and people.

This is a major project for Chatsworth House Trust and a significant moment in the story of the Cascade at Chatsworth.

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We Need
Your Support

Join us and become part of this inspiring chapter in the Cascade's history.

The total project cost is estimated to be £7.3 million. We will be applying to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for just under £5 million but, to help secure this, Chatsworth House Trust needs to raise the shortfall. We have launched a public fundraising campaign and aim to raise £250,000 from our Friends and visitors towards this goal.

By donating today, your support will have a positive impact on many thousands of visitors for years to come. Thank you.

Your Support Makes A Difference

Every donation, no matter how large or small will be received with gratitude and will help us restore the Cascade.

Piece
By Piece

This is a major project for Chatsworth House Trust and a significant moment in the story of the Cascade at Chatsworth.

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The Cascade's Origins

Built for the 1st Duke of Devonshire in 1696, the Cascade was a celebrated highlight of his garden. The Duke liked it so much that he then decided to enlarge it to add more spectacle. He had a longer, steeper and wider water flight of 23 'staircase-like' steps constructed and a new temple, the Cascade House. It is beautifully adorned with fountains, sculpted stone features of dolphins, nymphs and a figure of the river god Fluvius.

The Cascade was inspired by King Louis XIV's palace at Marly, near Versailles, which may have been the inspiration for Chatsworth's west front. The Duke even hired King Louis's hydraulics engineer Monsieur Grillet to design the waterworks.

23

Number of steps that descend over 60 metres down the hill

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2716

Stones make up
the Cascade steps

Celebrating The Cascade Project

In 2023, Chatsworth House Trust was awarded £422,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help kick-start the project. To assess the full extent of the damage beneath the Cascade, we have conducted exploratory work and archaeological and archival research. We will be undertaking laser scans and hydraulic and ecological surveys to understand its state of disrepair.

A fundamental element of the project is a public outreach programme designed to make the Cascade, and the whole of Chatsworth, feel more accessible to all our visitors. We are working closely with partners such as Derbyshire MIND and the Cavendish Learning Trust to explore learning opportunities and the well-being benefits of visiting the Cascade.

£5m

Our total funding request to The National Lottery Heritage Fund

arrow right icon

How will we restore it?

In Spring 2025, we will apply to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for nearly £5 million to help fund the restoration costs - a major project which is likely to take at least two years.

We will lift the stones on most of the 23 steps and use skilled and apprentice stone masons to match any of the individual tooling marks on at least 60% of the stones. We will create a more robust sub-base for the stones to rest on with a waterproof barrier, strengthen the subsoils after years of saturation, repair and strengthen the walls of the tunnel, and repair or replace the hydraulic workings, valves and finials. In addition, the stone works of the Cascade House and sculptures will be cleaned and repaired.

£250k

Our fundraising goal to reach from our visitors and friends

arrow right icon

The Water Artery

The Cascade story sits as the centrepiece of a complex 'water artery' running from the moors to the Derwent river. Chatsworth has some of the earliest surviving water-fed garden ornaments in England - the Willow Tree and Seahorse fountains built in the 1680s, the Cascade in the 1690s and the Emperor Fountain in 1844.

A complex network of underground pipes take advantage of the steep landscape to channel water from constructed lakes on the moor above Chatsworth via an elaborate system of ponds and watercourses through the garden into the river. Many of these pipes are still original and are mostly in continuous use which requires constant care and attention.

A story of sustainability

In 1893, the 8th Duke commissioned water-powered turbines to be installed to harness power from the gravity-fed water system.

Chatsworth was one of the first country houses to generate its own electricity, and the house was powered by this green electricity until 1936, when the estate connected into the National Grid. In the 1980s the 11th Duke commissioned a new turbine, fed by the same 19th-century pipes. This turbine continues to provide electricity to the house today.

Sustainability and the environment are central to Chatsworth's story. Today, the water artery also provides a supply for watering the garden, flushing the toilets and powering the fire-hydrant system.

1713

The Cascade
doubled in length

arrow right icon

An enchanted
princess

In 1832 Princess Victoria visited Chatsworth when she was 13. Lady Blanche Cavendish wrote to her sister, Georgiana, on how much Victoria had been impressed by the Cascade illuminations.

"Between the scenes and after it was over, there were illuminations. The fountains looked beautiful, seen in the brightest red light. There were also very pretty blue lights, which made the whole gardens seem in moonlight.

300ft

Height of
fountain due to
water pressure

Piece
By Piece

This is a major project for Chatsworth House Trust and a significant moment in the story of the Cascade at Chatsworth.

Continue scrolling arrow right icon

The Cascade's Origins

Built for the 1st Duke of Devonshire in 1696, the Cascade was a celebrated highlight of his garden. The Duke liked it so much that he then decided to enlarge it to add more spectacle. He had a longer, steeper and wider water flight of 23 'staircase-like' steps constructed and a new temple, the Cascade House. It is beautifully adorned with fountains, sculpted stone features of dolphins, nymphs and a figure of the river god Fluvius.

The Cascade was inspired by King Louis XIV's palace at Marly, near Versailles, which may have been the inspiration for Chatsworth's west front. The Duke even hired King Louis's hydraulics engineer Monsieur Grillet to design the waterworks.

23

Number of steps that descend
over 60 metres down the hill

Chatsworth has always been for everyone to enjoy. In 1844, the house was open every day in the year. Instructions showed 'the Duke has expressly ordered the waterworks to be played for everyone.'

2716

stones make up
the Cascade steps

Celebrating the Cascade Project

In 2023, Chatsworth House Trust was awarded £422,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help kick-start the project. To assess the full extent of the damage beneath the Cascade, we have conducted exploratory work and archaeological and archival research. We will be undertaking laser scans and hydraulic and ecological surveys to understand its state of disrepair.

A fundamental element of the project is a public outreach programme designed to make the Cascade, and the whole of Chatsworth, feel more accessible to all our visitors. We are working closely with partners such as Derbyshire MIND and the Cavendish Learning Trust to explore learning opportunities and the well-being benefits of visiting the Cascade.

£5m

Our total funding
request to The National
Lottery Heritage Fund

How will we restore it?

In Spring 2025, we will apply to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for nearly £5 million to help fund the restoration costs - a major project which is likely to take at least two years. We will lift the stones on most of the 23 steps and use skilled and apprentice stone masons to match any of the individual tooling marks on at least 60% of the stones. We will create a more robust sub-base for the stones to rest on with a waterproof barrier, strengthen the subsoils after years of saturation, repair and strengthen the walls of the tunnel, and repair or replace the hydraulic workings, valves and finials. In addition, the stone works of the Cascade House and sculptures will be cleaned and repaired.

£250k

Our fundraising goal to reach
from our visitors and friends

The Water Artery

The Cascade story sits as the centrepiece of a complex 'water artery' running from the moors to the Derwent river. Chatsworth has some of the earliest surviving water-fed garden ornaments in England - the Willow Tree and Seahorse fountains built in the 1680s, the Cascade in the 1690s and the Emperor Fountain in 1844. A complex network of underground pipes take advantage of the steep landscape to channel water from constructed lakes on the moor above Chatsworth via an elaborate system of ponds and watercourses through the garden into the river. Many of these pipes are still original and are mostly in continuous use which requires constant care and attention.

1713

THE CASCADE DOUBLED
IN LENGTH

A story of sustainability

In 1893, the 8th Duke commissioned water-powered turbines to be installed to harness power from the gravity-fed water system.

Chatsworth was one of the first country houses to generate its own electricity, and the house was powered by this green electricity until 1936, when the estate connected into the National Grid. In the 1980s the 11th Duke commissioned a new turbine, fed by the same 19th-century pipes. This turbine continues to provide electricity to the house today.

Sustainability and the environment are central to Chatsworth's story. Today, the water artery also provides a supply for watering the garden, flushing the toilets and powering the fire-hydrant system.

An Enchanted Princess

In 1832 Princess Victoria visited Chatsworth when she was 13. Lady Blanche Cavendish wrote to her sister, Georgiana, on how much Victoria had been impressed by the Cascade illuminations.

"Between the scenes and after it was over, there were illuminations. The fountains looked beautiful, seen in the brightest red light. There were also very pretty blue lights, which made the whole gardens seem in moonlight.

"....The most striking thing was the great Cascade. It was like an enchanted castle, the water seemed turned into fire. Rockets going up in every direction. The little Princess was enchanted. I think her a delightful child, so unaffected & childish & yet so much manners & very intelligent."

300ft


Height of fountain
due to water pressure

Cascade Stories

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