England excels at many things, but there's (practically) nothing it does better than a stately home. In this extract from our Discover Great Britain guide, we look at one of the biggest big hitters: Chatsworth.

Known as the ‘Palace of the Peak’, the vast edifice of Chatsworth has been occupied by the dukes of Devonshire for centuries. The original house was started in 1551 by the inimitable Bess of Hardwick; a little later came Chatsworth’s most famous guest, Mary, Queen of Scots. She was imprisoned here on and off between 1570 and 1581 at the behest of Elizabeth I, under the guard of Bess’s fourth husband, the Earl of Shrewsbury. The Scots bedrooms (adult/child incl the house £12/5), nine Regency rooms named after the imprisoned queen, are sometimes open to the public. The house sits in 25 sq miles of gardens (adult/child £7/4), home to a fountain so high it can be seen from miles away in the hills of the Dark Peak, and several bold, modern sculptures, of which the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire are keen collectors.

Chatsworth is 3 miles northeast of Bakewell. If you’re driving, it’s £2 to park. Buses 170 and 218 go direct from Bakewell to Chatsworth (15 minutes, several daily). On Sunday, bus 215 also runs to Chatsworth.

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