Heatwave uncovers Chatsworth's 17th century 'hidden' garden

Record high temperatures have revealed the remnants of an ornate 17th century garden design at Chatsworth normally hidden from view.

Once part of the Great Parterre, a level space in the garden occupied by an ornamental arrangement of flower beds and paths, clearly defined patterns can currently be seen under the South Lawn's scorched grass.

Dating back to 1699 the Great Parterre measured 4737ft by 227ft and was intended to provide a suitable setting for the 1st Duke of Devonshire’s newly completed South Front of the house. It was covered over and replaced with a new design around 1730 but because the grass on the new lawn has shorter roots it burns more quickly, temporarily revealing the older garden underneath.

Steve Porter, head of gardens and landscape, said: ““We can clearly see the intricate patterns of the historic garden at the moment. The current heatwave is causing us issues elsewhere in the garden but here it has revealed a hidden gem not enjoyed properly for nearly 300 years!.”

The hidden garden design is revealed in the heatwave.

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    “We knew it was there but of course it’s normally a green lawn so everything is hidden. It is only revealed during periods of extreme heat, so climate change may make that more frequent in the years ahead. It will disappear again when temperatures drop and we get some rain but in the meantime it’s wonderful to get a glimpse back into the past.”

    The historic garden is now covered by the South Lawn, part of the 105-acre garden at Chatsworth. Home to the Devonshire family for 16 generations, the garden is currently undergoing its biggest transformation for nearly 200 years with major changes to the Rock Garden and the creation of a new 15-acre area called Arcadia.

    As well as the garden, Chatsworth’s publicly accessible 1000 acres of parkland is currently displaying Radical Horizons: The Art of Burning Man at Chatsworth, a large-scale exhibition of 12 sculptures until 1 October. Burning Man is a unique arts and cultural event that usually takes place annually in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA, and made its UK debut at Chatsworth in April.

    Kip & Knyff's mono artwork of how the Chatsworth garden looked in 1699.
    How the South Front garden at Chatsworth looks in springtime (photo: www.shoot360)