The present building was designed by James Wyatt and built about 1817 for the 3rd Earl of Harrington. The estate belonged to the Stanhope family who held until the mid 20th century, 3 earldoms, those of Chesterfield, Stanhope and Harrington. Some of the splendid tombs of the Harrington branch of this family can be found in the church, which is situated close to the Castle, including Canova's beautiful monument to the 3rd Earl who died in 1829.
Though the building itself is strickingly handsome, it is the grounds which are the greatest glory of Elvaston. The are famous for long avenues, the serpentine lake, a Moorish temple, the large and unexpected example of rocaille and the Golden Gates from a french royal palace.
In the 20th century, the then Earl of Harrington sold the estate to the local authorities and it is now administered by the Derbyshire County Council and the Derby City Council as a country park providing a nature trail and field study facilities, a caravan park, car park, picnic area and the castle itself providing a cafe and an information centre.
In the grounds there is also a Riding School. It holds a wide range of annual events including exhibitions, craft and other fairs, the County Show, and a Steam Rally.
In 1969, Elvaston was used as a location for Ken Russell's film adaptation of the D. H. Lawrence novel Women in Love.
In recent years there have been many attempts to sell the estate on to a private company due to rising maintenance costs and to turn the castle into a hotel and the park into a golf course. These plans have been fiercely contested by "The Friends of Elvaston Castle" on behalf of the local community.
The park is open to the public from dawn to dusk. Admission is free though a small car parking fee applies.
Elvaston Castle's Christmas Fair Sat 7 and Sun 8 Dec 2013 10:00 to 16:00. The fair will bring together dozens of exhibitors from all over the region in a festive extravaganza of quality, craftmanship, food and drink. Plus you can join a workshop encouraging young people to make their own presents.
Please also visit Derbyshire Photographs for more photos of Elvaston castle
For more information on Derby in Derbyshire visit Derby Guide