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Castle History

Friends Forward Plan



The Friends of Elvaston was formed in July, 2004, to challenge proposals put forward by Derbyshire County Council to dispose of the Elvaston Castle Country Park and Estate to a private real estate development company (or any other private business), for the purposes of turning it into an hotel and golf courses.

The sole aim of the Friends of Elvaston is to see the restoration of Elvaston Castle Country Park, including the Castle, all outbuildings, Home Farm and the redemption of the ancient and sacred connections with the beautiful St. Bartholomew’s church which adjoins it. Together, these places have formed the hub of village life in the area for long centuries past and the Estate has a direct link to royalty and historic figures and has at times been the background to dramatic events in both the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War and as such is an important part of our heritage.

The Estate was sold by the Stanhope Family in the sixties and bought by a gravel-extraction company that intended to remove all the gravel situated there, of which it is known that there are millions of tons beneath the Estate. Public opposition made this an impossible venture and, following a public outcry, the Estate was jointly purchased in 1968 by the then Derby Borough Council, and Derbyshire County Council, using a Central Government subsidy of 75%, through the offices of the Countryside Commission (now the Countryside Agency).

Following boundary changes in 1974 however, the Estate came under the single control of Derbyshire County Council. Originally, a Working Farm Museum was opened, together with a Natural History Museum, and cafeteria. Various events were hosted at the Castle for many years, including the County Show and Steam Rallies. These events have been held in great stead by the general public at large, who have continued to visit the Park in numbers of approximately 700,000 a year, a figure which has remained more or less constant for the last decade or more, even though many of the events are no longer held there. This means that in the last ten years, approximately 7 million people have enjoyed the beauty and recreational amenities of the Estate, a phenomenal and proven demand for any public park or facility, indeed, there are no doubt quite a few places open to the public up and down the nation which would envy such vast visitor numbers!

Derbyshire County Council (like most local authorities) is wrestling with the challenges posed by the economic climate and problems with the economy nationwide and it is no longer able to support the maintenance and running costs of the Estate.

We believe that, with the restoration of the Estate, its administration and management by a non-profit making community group, guided by professional people from a variety of backgrounds, together with the input created by the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors to Elvaston Castle, we can provide not only a nationally and internationally renowned tourist attraction, but also somewhere which can provide jobs and employment for many local people, together with business for local traders and suppliers.

Further, we also believe that, in the right hands it can provide training and educational opportunities for the unemployed and underprivileged, with a special emphasis on creating openings for young people, many of whom are alienated and disaffected due to feelings of frustration, often brought about by the hopeless situation which they find themselves facing. We would also like to encourage those young people of exceptional talent who have not yet had the opportunity to fully achieve their potential. This could be in any field or discipline which would benefit both Elvaston and themselves. This and much more could be provided by the Estate, properly run and administered. 

Over the years we have been at odds with Derbyshire County Council over the issue of Elvaston Castle on many well documented occasions. However, it is said that all roads lead to Rome and all parties recognise that a solution which is both practical and acceptable to all must be found. The Council has to be relieved of the difficult burden of juggling the ever decreasing financial resources caused by government cuts, whilst at the same time having to service major public assets. Following up on the precedents set by the Localism Bill seems to be the most practical and effective way to proceed. It is now up to each and every one of us to get behind these changes and make this new approach to an old problem work at Elvaston Castle Country Park. (November 2012)


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