After Barron left Elvaston it is recorded anecdotally that the formal pleasure gardens slowly slipped into decline under the Stanhope family. However this changed in 1928 when the 10th Earl died in a hunting accident just one year after inheriting the title. The 11th Earl was only a boy when he inherited the Estate and family title. With the onset of World War II the Stanhope family left Elvaston to live in Thulston so that the Castle could be used as a teachers’ training college. The Castle remained as a teachers’ training college until 1952.
In 1964 the Estate was first put up for sale. Ultimately the Estate was purchased by an aggregates consortium. After a number of failed attempts to gain planning permission to demolish the Castle and extract aggregates from the site the consortium sold the Estate to DCC which opened the Estate as the first Country Park in England in 1970.
The fixtures and fittings of the Estate and Castle were sold prior to it being purchased by DCC.
The Estate was run successfully as a Country Park and Museum for more than three decades. Generations of local and wider Derbyshire residents have benefited from school visits, weekend events or simply walking over and becoming familiar with this richly diverse landscape.
Through DCC’s joint working with the NT, the following statement was produced that seeks to summarise the essence of Elvaston and how the many layers of history manifest today:
“Created by many hands as a haven for a family line, turned by circumstance into a sanctuary for two lovers and transformed into an escape from ‘everyday life’ for thousands; this continually evolving, miniature world reveals countless glimpses of its long history.
The Castle stands at the heart of the Estate, overlooking a landscape ranging from majestic conifers and woodland to formal topiary and rock work which inspired so many historic estates. Slightly worn at the edges, this homage to romantic Gothic fantasy still has the power to inspire and surprise with its gleaming gilt and dramatic painted interiors.
Some of the grandeur of Barron’s experimental design has been eroded by happy, running feet and generations of exploring hands; the growing power of the Stanhope family has waned, but their enduring creation of fantasy and escapism is still felt throughout the house and grounds.”