I’ve been to Hardwick Hall before, to visit the gardens and take in one of the walks around the grounds, but on this occasion we went into the hall itself. Bess of Hardwick created the hall in the 1500s and it was renowned for being more glass than wall, making it at the time a very expensive proposition.
There were several exhibitions and different areas on display on our visit which included information on Arbella Stuart, Bess’ granddaughter and Mary, Queen of Scots’ niece, who I already knew a fair bit about having coincidentally read a biography about her not that long ago.
The other section focused on the life of Duchess Evelyn who was the last inhabit of Hardwick. Her bedroom has recently been restored as well as the large family rooms and we were able to see some of her embroidery work,
which is a theme running throughout the building – also on display is some needlework which was completed by Mary, Queen of Scots. Although Mary never came to Hardwick Hall, Bess and her husband became her caretakers during her imprisonment by Elizabeth I until her execution.
Hardwick is also home to some of the best early embroidery in the country – in particular the set of embroideries known as the noble women which were made while Bess was living at Chatsworth and were made from pieces of velvet, silk and cloth of gold.
Although the outside of the Hall is symmetrical, the interior is most definitely not with lots of interesting staircases and different sized rooms to explore. The High Great Chamber is one such room, tall and wide with a stunning frieze on the upper walls.
Definitely worth a visit, particularly if you have time to take in the grounds and gardens, you can find more photos here.