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. Bartholomews 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
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
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.