The Grade II octagonal-shaped structure, called the Game Larder after its former purpose, is free to enter and, alongside the parkland, is open all year round, in contrast to the house and formal gardens which are now closed for the winter.
The centre, built with the help of an £80,000 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, features panels of images with historical facts covering the last 500 years, and interactive displays for visitors to explore and audio storytelling to explain the landscape, flora and fauna as seen through its seven floor-to- ceiling windows.
Chatsworth, run by the Chatsworth House Trust and one of the Treasure Houses of England, applied for HLF funding last year during the Capability Brown Festival, which celebrated 300 years since the birth of the highly-influential landscape gardener, who designed the parkland at Chatsworth, in Bakewell in Derbyshire.
Capability Brown Festival director Ceryl Evans, who remains in post until the end of March, said the Game Larder offered visitors something new, allowing them to learn about the landscape before exploring it.
"It’s quite an interesting approach, it’s one of the first I can think of where people have thought ‘let’s do a bit of interpretation’. Usually you find that in the house they can tell you where the teaspoons came from but outside there is minimal information given."
The Game Larder was originally constructed in 1909 to hang the game shot on the estate for owners the Dukes of Devonshire but fell into disuse following the arrival of modern refrigeration in the middle of the 20th century. During the 1950s and 60s the Game Larder was used as a chicken shed by Duchess Deborah Devonshire.