It is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire and has been home to the Cavendish family since 1549.
In the reign of Edward the Confessor a man of Norse origin named 'Chetel' held lands jointly with a Saxon named 'Leotnoth' in three townships; Ednesoure to the west of the Derwent, and Langoleie and Chetesuorde to the east.
Chatsworth ceased to be a large estate, until the 15th century when it was acquired by the Leche family who owned property nearby.
They enclosed the first park at Chatsworth and built a house on the high ground in what is now the south-eastern part of the garden.
In 1549 they sold all their property in the area to Sir William Cavendish, Treasurer of the King's Chamber and the husband of Bess of Hardwick, who had persuaded him to sell his property in Suffolk and settle in her native county. She selected a site near the river, which was drained by digging a series of reservoirs, which doubled as fish ponds.
Sir William died in 1557, but Bess finished the house in the 1560s and lived there with her fourth husband, George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury.
In 1568 Shrewsbury was entrusted with the custody of Mary, Queen of Scots, and brought his prisoner to Chatsworth several times from 1570 onwards.She lodged in the apartment now known as the Queen of Scots rooms, on the top floor above the great hall, which faces onto the inner courtyard.An accomplished needlewoman, Bess joined Mary, Queen of Scots at Chatsworth for extended periods in 1569, 1570, and 1571, during which time they worked together on the Oxburgh Hangings.This engraving by Kip and Knyff shows Chatsworth part way through the 1st Duke's alterations.The south front has been rebuilt but the original east front survives.The baroque garden has been laid out, but only the first, smaller version of the Cascade has been built, and the Canal Pond has not been dug.