Hardwick Old Hall
HARDWICK HALL, DERBYSHIRE
Hardwick Old Hall was built between 1587 and 1596 by Bess of Hardwick, one of the richest and most powerful women of the Elizabethan age due to her many judicious marriages. In its day, the design of the Old Hall was strikingly modern, with Italian innovations and enormous windows that were unusual for the time. Although now little more than an impressive shell, you can climb the stone steps through four ruined floors, marvelling at the beautifully preserved plasterwork all the way. The best of the bunch is the hunting scene that adorns the Forest Great Chamber. When you reach the top of the building, great views over the Derbyshire countryside and a bird’s eye view of Hardwick New Hall, also built by Bess, are your reward. The New Hall, built to compliment the Old Hall and function alongside it, stands in a country park containing rare-breed cattle and sheep.
- Open all year
- Opening Times: Open Apr-Sep, Wed-Sun 10-6; 1-30 Oct, Wed-Fri 10-5; 31 Oct-12 Feb & 18 Feb-Mar, Sat-Sun 10-4; 13-17 Feb, daily 10-4. Closed 24-26 Dec & 1 Jan
Also in the area
About the area
The natural features of this central English county range from the modest heights of the Peak District National Park, where Kinder Scout stands at 2,088 ft (636 m), to the depths of its remarkable underground caverns, floodlit to reveal exquisite Blue John stone. Walkers and cyclists will enjoy the High Peak Trail which extends from the Derwent Valley to the limestone plateau near Buxton, and for many, the spectacular scenery is what draws them to the area.
The county is well endowed with stately homes – most notably Chatsworth, the palatial home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, with its outstanding collections of paintings, statuary and art. Other gems include the well preserved medieval Haddon Hall, the Elizabethan Hardwick Hall, and Kedleston Hall, whose entrance front has been described as the grandest Palladian façade in Britain.
The spa town of Matlock is the county’s administrative centre and other major towns of interest include Derby and the old coal mining town of Chesterfield, with its crooked spire. Around the villages of Derbyshire, look out for the ancient tradition of well dressing, the decorating of springs and wells – the precious sources of life-sustaining water – with pictures formed from flowers.
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