Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

What do you think of this National Trust stately home? We took a bit of a detour on the way home from our break in Warwickshire in the early summer, just to visit this one. It seems like a long time ago now but as you can see, it was a beautiful day, in fact it was the only really good day which we had, you know how wet this ‘summer’ has been.

Hardwick Hall, front

Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire must rate as just about the grandest of stately homes. Built by Bess of Hardwick, she moved in in 1597, having been at Chatsworth before that. Bess wore out four husbands I believe and she managed to move her way up the social scale with each marriage, as you can see, she wasn’t short of a bob or two!

Hardwick Hall, gardens 4

Although the house is still gobsmackingly grand and full of lots of interesting 500 year old tapestries and portraits, it was the gardens which I loved most. We seem to have got to these ones just at the right time for most of the plants. This is Jack enjoying a rest, it was a hot day – for us anyway, about 70F I think.

Hardwick Hall, gardens + J

The walled garden was the best designed and best tended one which I’ve seen out of all of the National Trust properties which we’ve visited recently. These rambling roses were just gorgeous.

Hardwick Hall, gardens

Another rosey corner, the walls must help to protect the plants during the winter and add some warmth during the summer as they keep the heat from the sun for quite a while.

Hardwick Hall, roses

There are some really lovely trees in the grounds and I loved this clipped yew and the cedrus glauca Atlantica behind it. The yew looks like it should be an illustration in a children’s fairy tale book. There are four of them on the large lawn at the back of the house and they’re big enough for an adult to stand underneath them. They’d be a perfect place to enjoy a picnic in the shade on a hot day.

Hardwick Hall, noddy tree

So that was a lovely way of breaking the journey back up to Scotland and I must say that the guides were very friendly and informative. This house was owned by the Cavendish/Devonshires who of course own Chatsworth House but when the Duke died suddenly in the 1950s the death duties were enormous and they ended up settling the bill by giving up Hardwick Hall, amongst other things like works of art. What a dilemma to have, although I think they made the right choice as Hardwick Hall would be impossible to live in comfortably, even in Elizabethan times. They said of it when it was built – Hardwick Hall – more glass than wall. Of course glass was so expensive then that it was a great status symbol.

The day following this one couldn’t have been more different, they had 12 inches of rain, resulting in a lot of flooding in the county of Derbyshire. That’s Britain for you, rarely two days in a row alike!

8 thoughts on “Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

  1. Lucky you to be able to visit so many historical and interesting places for a day trip. For your American followers, they may be interested in the magazine “Scottish Life” available in Barnes and Noble. The summer 2012 issue highlights fishing villages of Fife – article called East Neuk of Fife. I THINK this is your current home area.(Firth of Forth)Also Glasgow’s new Riverside Museum of Transport and Travel looks neat.And finally, Edinburgh’s St. Giles Cathedral, so beautiful. Have a good week Katrina.

    • Lorraine,
      I’ve browsed through that mag in the past but you can have a look at bits of it online too. http://www.scottishlife.org/ The fishing villages are just a hop and a skip from us, very popular with day trippers and holiday makers, if you click on ‘coast’ in my categories list you should find some blogposts but I thought I had done more, I’ll have to go and take more photos of the East Neuk. I haven’t been to the new transport museum yet. Jack went while I visited the nearby Creative Stitches exhibition earlier in the year.

      • That lovely picture of the house was exactly what I was looking for when I wrote Bess’s biography, and couldn’t find! Like you, I live too far away (New Forest) to get in the car and drive all that way just for one photograph

        • Mary,
          I knew the name rang a bell, I should’ve googled you! I want to read a Bess biography too so I know exactly what to look for now. What a shame you couldn’t find a good photo then. Thanks for mentioning the New Forest, that’s another part of Britain which we haven’t visited yet, so I’m adding it to my list.


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