Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

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The stunning Hardwick estate is set in the picturesque county of Derbyshire and features the beautiful and architecturally significant Hardwick Hall. This Elizabethan country house was built in the 1500s and has been continually maintained and expanded. Here you will find amazing examples of Elizabethan architecture, as well as some additions that have been made to the grounds in later years.

Creative Commons Photo by ADTeasdale

Hardwick Hall was originally built for Bess of Hardwick, a formidable woman and an important person in Elizabethan society who became the Countess of Shrewsbury and called Hardwick Hall her home. The building was designed by a famed architect of the time, Robert Smythson, who took inspiration from the Renaissance style of buildings that had become popular in Florence at the time.

Today, the hall, its grounds, and the nearby mill are all owned and operated by the National Trust who keep the beautiful hall and its stunning estate open to the public all year round.

The History of Hardwick Hall

When Bess of Hardwick commissioned the design and construction of the hall, she was the second richest woman in England – only Queen Elizabeth I was wealthier, and she was a close friend of Bess.

The hall is suitably grand for such an important and wealthy individual, and the design of the building was meant as a statement of the Countess of Shrewsbury’s status and wealth. The hall boasts a huge number of large windows that were made at a time when window glass was very expensive and in short supply. This led to a local saying, “Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall”.

After the death of Bess in 1608, her family’s stature grew even more, with her great-great-grandson becoming the 1st Duke of Devonshire in 1694. The Duke chose Chatsworth House as his main home, and this relegated the still impressive Hardwick Hall to a seasonal home used for hunting and family retreats.

Eventually, after a great many more years, Hardwick Hall was passed to the National Trust in 1959 who took great measures to preserve its architecture and the collection of art and textiles it holds.

Things to Do at Hardwick Hall

Hardwick Hall is open all year round for walks through the grounds, visits to the gift shop, and meals in its excellent on-site restaurant with menus that change with the seasons.

There are over 300 acres of picturesque woodland and countryside to explore on its grounds, as well as its beautiful and well-maintained gardens, many of which still follow their designs from the 16th and 17th centuries.

In the hall itself, you can take a journey through history and see some of its astounding decor and decadence that was enjoyed by Bess of Hardwick herself and her family. You can also enjoy the Stableyards at Hardwick Hall, which offer an insight into how these grand homes were operated in the Elizabethan era and how the past and present have shaped Hardwick Hall and its estate.

There is ample parking, plenty to see and do, and there are excellent refreshments and food available, so what are you waiting for? Visit Hardwick Hall today.

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