Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, 5th May 2017

May 18, 2017
Written by: Rob Slusar

After my stop off at Sutton Scarsdale Hall, I decided call in at Hardwick Hall which was just a short hop down the road.

This was an odd one for me, in truth I totally underestimated it. Not only is there Hardwick Old Hall on this site which is run by English Heritage, next to it is Hardwick New Hall, which is under the stewardship of the National Trust.

Hardwick Old Hall was built between 1587 and 1596 by Bess of Hardwick, one of the richest and well connected women in the Elizabethan period.

Not happy with just one residence, she began the construction of the “new” hall in 1590. The designs of the buildings were based on Italian innovations, and both halls were designed to compliment each other, like 2 wings of the same residence.

Bess died in 1608 and her son William Cavendish took over ownership of the halls. As the years past, the Cavendish family come to prefer their residence at Chatsworth, so rather than  leave two empty halls, they began to dismantle the old hall in 1750.

Whilst descendants began to preserve the old hall in the early 1900’s, It is not known what happened to all the internals. It is thought some of the elements were moved over to the new hall as it expanded over the years. The new hall was occupied until 1959 when it was handed over to the National Trust.

As I mentioned, I didn’t realise the 2 were one and the same thing, so in the 45 minutes I was able to spend there, I don’t think I did it justice. Looks like I will just have to go back.

I will split the pictures into 2 sections starting with the Old Hall.

Approaching from the rear of the old hall.

Looking in towards the space where the great hall and other entertaining spaces would have been located.

Looking towards the residential block which housed all of the bedrooms. The upper room with the taller windows is the Hill Great Chamber, a lavish reception space were state visits would have been conducted.

Fireplace with the remains of an ornate decoration above it. A number of the fireplaces had similar decorations, normally they were designed in conjunction with the theme of the room.

The entrance to the Great Hall.

The only remaining staircase is the secondary staircase which lead to the bedrooms, the main Great Staircase was removed many years ago.

Some of the old beams and supports which held the floors above.

The remains of the fireplace decorations and the plaster “panelling” which would have continued around the entire chamber, areas of this still remain.

Looking out over the local area from the highest point left accessible in the hall.

The entrance to the New Hall, only a short walk from the original Old Hall.

Rooftop designs adorn the structure all over.

The rear of the New Hall, facing out to fields, which i believe were used as a camp in WWII. To the left is the extensive gardens, which I was unable to visit.

Another view of the front. The two halls were designed in similar fashions, so looking at the New Hall, you can get an ideal of what the Old Hall would have looked like in it’s better state.

There was a lot to see at this place, and I didn’t even get inside the New Hall or visit the gardens, so a return visit is definitely¬†in order I think.

As always, thanks for looking.


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