There is a strong sense of nostalgia associated with Chatsworth Farm Shop.

For some, it’s where a successful day exploring the estate ends with a well-earned patisserie. For others, it’s an annual family ritual to purchase a Christmas cake; a recipe reassuringly unchanged by baker Nick for 25 years.

And yet, whilst the affection in visiting one of the county’s most popular farm shops may be immersed within its produce, it’s often the experience which evokes the most joyful memories – a reason many of the 500,000 customers each year visiting time and again.

‘Personally, I am very sentimentally attached to the slightly strange pagodas outside that house the fruit and vegetables,’ reveals Lady Burlington, whose input has been pivotal in the redesign of the newly refurbished farm shop.

‘I would have found it very difficult to get rid of them because I think it’s this sort of quirk that makes this place so special.’

Varieties of estate-grown plants, vegetables and fruits are available Varieties of estate-grown plants, vegetables and fruits are available (Image: Chatsworth House Trust)

As a popular haven for both the local community and visitors on an international scale, there was, she reveals, added pressure in looking to the future while simultaneously respecting a unique farm shop heritage crafted over 40 years.

‘In the first week, I was rather nervous about how our customers would react,’ she admits. ‘I’m sure with any change there are exceptions, but mostly people seem to have been very positive.’

Since being opened by Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, in 1977 and considered an innovative concept ahead of its time, the farm shop, as Lady Burlington explains, has since furthered lasting relationships with local suppliers, whilst showcasing high-quality produce originating from the Chatsworth Estate.

‘Our sourcing policy is simple,’ she says emphatically. ‘Firstly, can we make it ourselves? Secondly, can we source if from the estate? Thirdly, can we source it from local business?

Liam Spivey Liam Spivey (Image: Chatsworth House Trust)

‘We are proud that about half of what we sell falls into the latter category, with local defined as a product found within a 30-mile radius of the estate. Also, our highly trained staff create a huge selection of goods in house.’

With on-site chefs, knowledgeable deli and fish professionals, and a talented butchery and bakery team, the farm shop is renowned for boasting a wide selection of fresh fish, prepared meat and baked goods such as bread, cakes, pies, pizzas and pasties to name a few.

Its skilled butchery department processes beef, pork, lamb and game, with 80 per cent sourced from the Chatsworth Estate.

Varieties of estate-grown plants, vegetables and fruits are also available in store seasonally.

‘In recent years we’ve expanded into new categories, for example developing a range of spirits using plums, cherries, sloes and lemons from the Chatsworth Kitchen Garden,’ Lady Burlington adds.

Lady Burlington has been a driving force during the farm shop's renovations Lady Burlington has been a driving force during the farm shop's renovations (Image: Chatsworth House Trust)

In the past 40 years or so, there has also been a focus on incorporating the latest sustainable materials, which has led to the redesign of packaging and even the store itself.

‘As we went through the process of developing sustainable packaging within our product range, it felt a little wrong not to give some attention to the interior of the farm shop where these products will sit,’ suggests Lady Burlington.

‘So, essentially, the inspiration behind the new refurbishment was really the products that we sell.’

Whilst the farm shop has embraced change on a regular basis over the years, the recent alterations are the most extensive to date.

Despite the refurbishment, the farm shops strong identity and heritage has been maintained Despite the refurbishment, the farm shops strong identity and heritage has been maintained (Image: Chatsworth House Trust)

‘This refurbishment is the first time the farm shop has been looked at holistically right from the décor, to signage, layout and everything in between, including items sourced from the Chatsworth archive,’ Lady Burlington describes.

‘We also added to these by going to markets to look for other objects we could upcycle. All the shelves in the farm shop are actually the old fittings, repurposed and painted for a new lease of life.’

Complementing the counters, interesting objects associated with farm shop departments highlight a heritage of traditional skills now found throughout a team encompassing around 120 people – many of which, Lady Burlington says, are long-serving members of staff.

These include Lizzie, farm shop deli supervisor since 1987, and Graham, the longest serving member of the butchery team, having joined in 2005.

Employees at the farm shop are encouraged to enhance their knowledge and skills Employees at the farm shop are encouraged to enhance their knowledge and skills (Image: Chatsworth House Trust)

As one of the newer members of staff, having joined in 2022 as an apprentice butcher and previously a cheesemaker, as well as a goat herder, Nolwenn describes how Chatsworth has developed her career.

‘The apprenticeship is between 18-20 months; I’ve really enjoyed the experience of learning alongside experienced butchers and also preparing lamb, because of its provenance from the estate farms.’

Another highlight, Nolwenn says, has been a two-week pork butchery course in Denmark. ‘We learned many specialist skills from breaking down pork to creating Frankfurter sausages and salamis, as well as curing techniques.’

Every eight weeks, tutor Andy assesses progress and sets specialist butchery homework to further develop the apprentices’ skills – many of which are difficult to master.

The estate is proud of its relationship with local producers and suppliers The estate is proud of its relationship with local producers and suppliers (Image: Chatsworth House Trust)

‘Understanding the muscle groups in a carcass has been a challenge,’ Nolwenn accepts, ‘but my learning has been helped by working in a friendly and supportive environment where they actively encourage you to progress.’

Chatsworth Farm Shop manager Liam Spivey agrees.

‘We invest heavily in our teams with multiple positions created that offer local people great opportunities to progress,’ he says.

‘Our team is very talented and committed; I have been lucky to inherit such a dedicated team since joining in 2020.’

In working so closely alongside his team, Liam has observed the impact of the refurbishment and how the changes have resonated with customers.

A taste of honey A taste of honey (Image: Chatsworth House Trust)

These in-store improvements, he feels, have enhanced the visitor experience whilst retaining the original look and feel so familiar to its loyal customer base.

‘The subtle redesign has helped customers find items more easily by removing cumbersome and inefficient display units,’ he says.

‘We have also simplified the messaging throughout to focus on what really matters – informing customers of the support we offer local farmers and producers as well as what we make here with the skills our team have.’

These bespoke in-house ranges, Liam feels, are the most exciting products on offer due to their uniqueness.

‘Our teams work around the clock and put so much passion into their work, so it's super rewarding to see our products enjoyed.’

The farm shop boasts an array of locally sourced produce The farm shop boasts an array of locally sourced produce (Image: Chatsworth House Trust)

This includes a decadent farm shop Devonshire Gold sausage roll, where the kitchen team take sausage meat from the butchery and blend it with Hartington Creamery’s Devonshire Gold blue cheese.

‘This is an excellent example of a great collaboration between two local businesses and is part of our continued development in new product ranges’ he adds.

As well as championing local makers such as Hartington Creamery, sustainability remains at the heart of the farm shop’s ethos.

Whilst maintaining an ongoing commitment to send no waste to landfill, reduce packaging and prioritise local produce, ultimately, the shop centres around an outlet for estate produce to flourish, which in turn provides a place for the community to shop.

‘To maintain our founding values, it’s so important that we keep operating in a way that is socially and environmentally responsible, whilst constantly aiming to improve everything that we do,’ he concludes.

The refurbishment has been the final major piece in the jigsaw and amplifies our inspiring team which is committed and genuinely passionate about serving our customers for the next 50 years and beyond.'