Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

by Veronica

Home to the redoubtable Bess Hardwick, Hardwick has not one but two fine Halls. I visited with my family recently on Saturday.

I wanted to bring my husband here because as a mathematician he likes to see pattern and symmetry in things around him. He spots patterns everywhere. I knew Hardwick Hall would interest him.

I of course, was fascinated by the History and also the Hall's formidable former owner Bess Hardwick, a woman born before her time. (More about her later)

Hardwick has two halls, a ruined old hall and a beautiful, symmetrical Hall although surprisingly they were built only a few years apart. Hardwick is a Grade 1 listed building and is near the town of Chesterfield, Derbyshire. It was built in Italianate style during the reign of Elizabeth Tudor around 1590

Today it is owned and managed by the National Trust whilst the Old Hall is managed by English Heritage.

Bess Hardwick and Arbella Stuart

Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury was known as Bess Hardwick and was a wealthy woman well known in Elizabethan England.  Although she was born into a modest gentry family, she married four times and amassed great wealth with each marriage. She fought for her deceased husbands' estates and succeeded in an age when women didn't have many rights if any.  She increased her wealth and owned lands, and businesses which included mines and glass making. 

She was grandmother to Arbella Stuart, whom many believed should have been Queen of England. The Tudors of course could not have this situation.

Bess kept her granddaughter Arbella at Hardwick for many years to protect her but Arbella was taken to the Tower of England where she died,  probably of being starved to death

 

Bess Hardwick
Bess Hardwick
Bess
Bess

The Old and New Halls

The ruined Old Hall
The ruined Old Hall
The New Hall
The New Hall

The Old Hall

The Old Hall stands just a few yards away from the New Hall but is in a dreadful state of repair compared to the New Hall. They were built only a few years apart. The Old Hall is being made safe for visitors just now. 

The ES initials at the top of the building stand for Elizabeth Shrewsbury as Bess was Countess of Shrewsbury. In English, I would pronounce Shrewsbury as SHROWsbury but some say SHROOsbury. 

Bess began building Hardwick Old Hall in 1587 and it was finished in 1590.  Bess had become the richest woman in England after Queen Elizabeth. She immediately started building the New Hall to complement the old hall, like two wings of one building. It was all a show of power. 

The New Hall

Hardwick Hall was built to impress... symmetrical, sumptuous, crowns over the ES on the roof. It can be seen for miles and was a symbol of Bess Hardwick's wealth. The walls are covered with tapestries over 400 years old. 

The one below is along the staircase. There is a banqueting hall on the roof and this is being restored for roof top tours which should start late Autumn 2018. I am going! 

 

Inside the house

tapestries
tapestries

Staircase

One Staircase
One Staircase

Staircase

I included this staircase above because I loved it. This is exactly how it looks and is lined with tapestries. 

The Kitchens

Whenever I visit these places, I love to see the kitchens. This to me was where " it all happened ".  Hardwick kitchens do not disappoint. Take a look at one of the them, the main kitchen. 

Kitchens
Kitchens
lovely pans
lovely pans
wide span
wide span
Centre
Centre

The gardens

I am just focusing on the orchard here. The gardens are lovely of course but I was struck by the prevalence of these trees in Hardwick's orchard. Chinese red crab apples. 

Hmm I wonder what they are like!

The orchards

Chinese red  crab apples
Chinese red crab apples

Conclusion

What a visit!

I am a great campaigner to show that England is far more than just London. You would never get views like this around London and the South. Hardwick is just beautiful and full of exciting and tumultuous History. 

Visit it if you are in Derbyshire. 

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire
Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire
over Derbyshire
over Derbyshire
Updated: 09/05/2018, Veronica
 
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Veronica on 09/06/2018

and of course … beautiful north of England skies helps …..

Veronica on 09/06/2018

Quite so. I like this place BECAUSE of the two halls. The ruin is just spectacular and full of exciting mystery. The new house is a statement of wealth... a bit boastful I suppose.

I am hoping the ruin will be made safe to visit and that the roof tour of the new hall will be opened soon before it gets too cold in our Northern climate for a winter roof top jaunt. How exciting. We do indeed love our North of England.

blackspanielgallery on 09/06/2018

There is something special about the old structure. I prefer the ruins of the old over the intact new. Going from the images, old is the more appealing.

Veronica on 09/05/2018

This is why the owners of Hardwick Hall and other such mighty houses had to leave their homes to charities. Giving a mighty charity gift means they don't have to pay death duties. It is a sure way to raise taxes as we all die but some mighty families have been double hit if the heir died shortly after the owner. Double death duties.

The Hardwick hall family were paying £5m + in tax ...because someone died ! But there you go....life in Britain.

dustytoes on 09/05/2018

That is just not right. But I know here in the US we have taxes for that type of thing. I've just never had to know much about it.

Veronica on 09/05/2018

British death duties are costly. They were introduced to make up a short fall in government money in 1894 and have never been stopped. It replaced other forms of death tax in UK .
Now in 2018, families pay 40% tax on anything that the deceased has left over £325,000. The governments makes billions on it .

dustytoes on 09/05/2018

Thanks Veronica for the explanation.

Veronica on 09/05/2018

yes she just built the second one even more grandly as a show of power and wealth . But it fell into disrepair over the years. The new hall was used into the 1920's but they couldn't afford government death duties which were running into 5 million pounds ...POUNDS.... not dollars in UK death tax so they gave the new hall to the National Trust to be exempt from death tax .

dustytoes on 09/05/2018

So only one hall was kept in a good state of repair and that is why the other is crumbling. When Elizabeth built the second hall, the first one was still as good as new... Now I see.

Veronica on 09/05/2018

The old hall was just left to decay and fall into disrepair until English Heritage acquired it.

YOU are right ! This is my sort of place to visit rather than the busy popular cities.


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