Originally named "Willersley Hall", it was built on the slopes of Wild Cat Tor, 400 feet (120 m) above sea level, for the occupation of industrialist Sir Richard Arkwright by architect William Thomas, following the purchase of the estate in 1782 from Thomas Hallet Hodges for £8,864.
At the time of purchase there was no large house here, just a few farms and "Derwent House", which still stands off the main drive. Arkwright planted many trees, though not before clearing away a large limestone rock, which cost £3,000.
In 1791, when the building was approaching completion, a fire broke out and severe damage was caused to part of the interior of the castle. Although the damage was repaired, Arkwright died in 1792 before the building was completed. In 1796 his son, Richard Arkwright junior, moved into it with his family, and the Arkwright family lived there until 1922.
Today it operates as a Christian Guild Hotel.
The name Willersley
The name Willersley also appears in -
- the nearby Willersley Tunnel, which is 764 yards (699 m) long and lies between Cromford railway station and Matlock railway station.
- the nearby Willersley Crag, also called Willersley Castle rocks.