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Hardwick Hall Elizabethan mansion built by Bess of Hardwick. Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

The Peak District covers much of Derbyshire and parts of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. There are numerous interesting towns such as Ashbourne, Bakewell, Buxton, Leek, Matlock and Wirksworth, plus many enchanting villages

Hardwick Hall and Park

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Hardwick Hall
Hardwick Hall
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.

The entrance to the New Hall
The entrance to the New Hall
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.

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 Mary Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned at nearby Chatsworth.

The dynasty created by Bess, primarily from the four children of her second marriage - to Sir William Cavendish - included many powerful descendants including the Dukes of Devonshire, Newcastle, Portland and Kingston. At the time Hardwick Hall was built she was probably one of the wealthiest people in England.

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,
A view of Hardwick Hall
A view of Hardwick Hall
but the ruins you can now see were, curiously, built only a few years before the 'New' Hall alongside.

Hardwick Old Hall
Hardwick Old Hall
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.

In the gardens
In the gardens
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 entrance
0 - Hardwick Hall entrance
Hardwick Hall from outside the formal garden.
1 - Hardwick Hall from outside the formal garden.
Hardwick Hall from the South side
2 - Hardwick Hall from the South side
Hardwick Old Hall
3 - Hardwick Old Hall
Hardwick Old Hall - the bread ovens
4 - Hardwick Old Hall - the bread ovens
Hardwick Hall - statue in gardens
5 - Hardwick Hall - statue in gardens
Hardwick Hall
6 - Hardwick Hall
Ordnance Survey Grid Reference: SK458639 Click here for Google Maps

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How to get there

By Road:
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 £4 per vehicle - free to NT members.

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 11.00 pm to 5.00 pm from 11th February to 30th October, and from 10.30am - 3.30pm between 26th November - 18th December. (It is also open BH Mondays).

Gardens open 10.00am to 5.00pm from November to February and from 10.00am to 6pm from March to October.

Grounds open daily all year 8.30 am - 6.00pm.

The Old Hall is managed by English Heritage and is open:

25th March - 30th Sept: Wed - Sun and Bank Holidays 10:00 - 18:00

31st Oct - 24th March: Weekends 10:00 - 16:00 - but open daily 13th-17th Feb.
What does it cost?

Gift Aid Admission for whole property - (Standard Admission prices in brackets):

Adult £15.15 (£13.76)/ Child £7.60(£6.88)/ Family £37.90(£34.40)

Garden only:

Adult £7.60(£6.88) / Child £3.80 (£3.44), Family £19.00 (£17.20). Car Parking £2.00 - free to NT members.

Party and School arrangements - Check with National Trust on 01246 850430

Hardwick Old Hall is in the care of English Heritage. Ticket prices are:

Adult £6.60, Concession £5.90, Child £4.00, Family £17.20.

Joint tickets for Hardwick Hall and Hardwick Old Hall:

Adult: £19.10, Child: £10.15, Family: £48.35 (no gift aid for these)

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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