Hardwick Hall Elizabethan mansion built by Bess of Hardwick. Chesterfield, Derbyshire.
Hardwick Hall, a magnificent Elizabethan mansion built by Bess of Hardwick, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Renowned for its tapestries and with fine gardens. Set in a large park.
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|Hardwick Hall is one of Britain's finest Elizabethan houses built for Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Shrewsbury, who moved in to her latest creation in October 1597.|
Bess of Hardwick, as history recalls her, rose from humble origins to become on of the most powerful people in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. She married four times, each time gaining more wealth and her fourth husband was the Earl of Shrewsbury, one of the richest and most powerful of the English nobles of the time.
For many years the Shrewsburys were responsible for the guardianship of that unhappy Queen Mary Queen of Scots. The dynasty created by Bess included many powerful descendants including the Dukes of Devonshire, Newcastle, Portland and Kingston.
The house itself stands in a commanding position overlooking the surrounding countryside next to the ruins of Hardwick Old Hall. The original Old Hall may have dated from the 14th century, but the ruins you can now see were, curiously, built only a few years before the 'New' Hall alongside.
The story is that Bess had a furious dispute with her husband, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and in 1584 had to leave their home at Chatsworth. She came to the Old Hall at Hardwick and largely rebuilt it as a place for herself to live. However, when the Earl died in 1590 her finances became much more secure and she immediately began the construction of the 'New' Hall. The Old Hall was abandoned and gradually became a ruin.
With its massive windows and fine proportions it is an impressive statement of the power and wealth of its creator who made sure the statement was made quite clear by having her initials ES carved on stone letters at the head of the towers! The hall was notable for the size of its windows and the amount of glass used, which was far more than in similar houses of the period.
Hardwick contains a remarkable collection of 16th Century furniture and paintings and the visited part of the hall is fully furnished. Perhaps the most notable items on view are the large collection of huge tapestries and of needlework that cover many of the walls of the rooms and staircases. Many of the tapestries are original to the hall and were probably chosen by Bess herself.
The house stands within a country park containing rare breeds of cattle and sheep and the walled and enclosed gardens around the house include a herb garden, orchard and decorative gardens. There is a cafe and National Trust gift shop.
Hardwick Hall and Park Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
How to get there
Hardwick Hall lies to the East of the M1, east of Chesterfield. From Chesterfield take the A617 to the M1 and Mansfield. At the M1 roundabout go right round the roundabout and take the last exit. From there the Hall is signposted. Car parking costs £2 per vehicle.
By Bus: There is no bus to Hardwick Hall, but the 96 bus from Chesterfield goes to Hardstoft, west of the entrance to the park. From there it is a pleasant 2 km walk (mostly uphill) to the Hall. The Sheffield/Chesterfield-Nottingham 737 and 747 buses also go near - get off at Glapwell - from there it is a 2km walk though the park.
By Train: The nearest railway station is in Chesterfield (trains from Sheffield and London).
When is it open?
The House itself is open Wednesdays - Sundays from 12.00 pm to 4.30 pm from 11th February to 4th November, and weekends only (11.00am - 3.00pm) from 1st - 16th December. (It is also open BH Mondays).
Gardens open 11.00am to 5.00pm from 11th February to 1st April (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays) and all week from 9.00am to 6pm from 2nd April to 31st December (except Christmas Day).
Grounds open daily all year 8.30 am - 6.00pm.
The Old Hall is managed by English Heritage and is open:
1 April - 4 Nov: Wed - Sun and Bank Holidays 10:00 - 17:00
5 Nov - 28 March: Weekends 10:00 - 16:00
What does it cost?
Gift Aid Admission for whole property - (Standard Admission prices in brackets): Adult £11.50 (£10.45)/ Child £5.80(£5.27)/ Family £28.80(£26.18)
Garden only: Adult £5.80(£5.27). Car Parking £2.00.
Party and School arrangements - Check with National Trust on 01246 850430
For Hardwick Old Hall the entrance charges are:
Adult: £5.00, Concession: £4.50, Child: £3.00, Family: £13.00. English Heritage members free and NT members free
Prices and opening times are shown as a guideline only and may vary. See this link for more information on prices and opening
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