Insight into The Chatsworth Estate
Throughout its history, the Chatsworth Estate has played a role in many aspects of life in Derbyshire as a key part of the county's natural and cultural heritage.
From a leading visitor attraction with a nationally renowned historic landscape, one of Europe’s most significant art collections and open parkland, to a working estate with a farm shop, hotels and holiday cottages, Bondholder The Devonshire Group has always been very aware of what the estate means to people, the impact it has on communities, and the responsibility it has, as custodians, to care for it.
In October's Bondholder Blog, Sally Ambrose, Head of Visitor Experience and Deputy to the COO at Chatsworth, looks at the importance of the visitor economy to Derbyshire and gives a glimpse into life on the Chatsworth Estate and its commitment to its communities.
The Chatsworth Estate and the visitor economy
Chatsworth has been welcoming visitors for many years. Last year we welcomed over 615,000 visitors to the house, garden and farmyard and when combined with events and visitors to the park we welcomed over 1.2m people. Sixty six percent of those visitors came to the area specifically to visit Chatsworth and a further 22% had Chatsworth on their list with other places to visit. Over 60% of our visitors were day trippers, and 36% were staying in the area. Through working in partnership with our managed hotels and estate holiday cottages and accommodation providers in the wider community, we are working to increase stays rather than day visits to make the most of the economic benefit for the region and to help reduce the number of car journeys into the Peak District National Park.
The Chatsworth House Trust, a registered charity founded in 1981 and endowed by the Devonshire family, runs the visitor attraction and our public events programme. The charity’s principal objective is to support the long-term preservation of the house, its art collections, garden, woodlands and park for the benefit of the public. In pre-COVID ‘normal’ years the charity would make a surplus each year to invest in conservation, restoration and enhancement of the house, garden and park to ensure their preservation for all to enjoy. This income is raised mostly from visitor admissions, events, memberships and sponsorship, and with a turnover rent from our visitor based retail and catering operations. After being closed for several months we carefully and cautiously reopened with restricted numbers and increased safety measures and resourcing, it won’t be surprising to hear that 2020 will not be a normal year for the charity.
The Chatsworth Estate is focussed on and committed to our long-term shared future. We feel very privileged to have the opportunity to work with the many wonderful people who are committed to helping preserve Chatsworth so that it can benefit as many people as possible. This commitment extends beyond the estate, into local communities, the county, and the environment, and is embodied in our core values of always improving, decency, and being inclusive.
Our future is intrinsically linked to the future of our local communities, employees, visitors, suppliers, and partners. If these groups thrive, then so will we and vice-versa. By working together towards a prosperous shared future, we will all benefit. In 2018 we launched Our Commitment to Our Shared Future with ten goals for the next ten years covering a range of themes from the benefit to local economies and reducing our impact on the environment, to the creation of jobs and homes for local people, and enabling every child in local schools to experience the estate as part of their primary education.
To help us to measure our economic impact in a robust way we have started a two year Knowledge Transfer Partnership with fellow Bondholder the University of Derby and funding from Innovate UK. As one of our ten goals is to double the benefit to local economies, we will begin calculating our visitors’ spending impact on the region. In 2019/20, the Chatsworth Estate’s total direct Gross Value Added (GVA) stood at £26.2m, of which the visitor businesses contributed £14.4m. This includes the Chatsworth House Trust, our retail and catering operations, our hotels and holiday cottages. We also measure our spend with local suppliers. Last year 49% of our spend was with businesses within 30 miles of our core estate and we are working to ensure this proportion exceeds 50%.
The Chatsworth House Trust is committed to providing an excellent visitor experience and last year employed 120 full-time and 240 part-time posts, and over 100 volunteers in teams from the garden to the collections and visitor welcome. It’s the team that really makes Chatsworth such a special place for people to visit, and our overall visitor experience score of 90%, is thanks to them and their warm welcome, passion and knowledge.
These examples from our ten goals are just a taste of Our Commitment and we look forward to providing regular updates to chart our progress over the next 10 years. The full set of ten with the most recent updates can be found on our website. We hope you find them as inspiring as we do.