Newest Review: ... at building a large family home. The actual birthplace of Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury was at the West Lodge, a medieval manor... more
The other Hardwick Hall
Hardwick Old Hall (Derbyshire)
Member Name: micksheff
Hardwick Old Hall (Derbyshire)
Advantages: Lots of jistory
Disadvantages: Admission price
In my ignorance I didn't even realise that there was an Old Hardwick Hall and I only discovered it when I visited the other Hardwick Hall during a National Heritage Open Day. The two places are obviously linked but they are not to be confused. The other Hardwick Hall being in the care of The National Trust and its older neighbour, Old Hardwick Hall being in the hands of English Heritage.
Many people will know of Hardwick Hall as the grand country house that Bess of Hardwick had built for herself during the latter part of the 16th century. By the time the "new" Hardwick Hall was built in 1597 Bess was the second wealthiest woman in Britain, after Queen Elizabeth 1.
The Old Hall is perhaps surprisingly not all that much older than the other house. It was built around 1580 and was Bess's first attempt at building a large family home. The actual birthplace of Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury was at the West Lodge, a medieval manor house that stands adjacent to the Old Hall.
Born on the 27th July 1527 Elizabeth Talbot was the third surviving daughter of John Talbot. During her lifetime she would marry four times and provide heirs to both the Duke of Devonshire and the Duke of Newcastle dynasties, but it was her father John who had built the original manor house in which she was born. When Bess had amassed her incredible wealth she built the Old Hall, but never fully satisfied with it, she then built a new, much larger house and the Old Hall was abandoned.
From 1590 onwards the Old Hall quickly fell into a state of disrepair. That it was never demolished may have been partly due to sentimental reasons on Beth's part but for whatever reason thankfully this other house exists today, albeit in a somewhat sorry state of ruin.
In stark contrast to the other house, The Old Hall is a much smaller affair, but it is still impressive by any normal standards. Today it has no roof but the floors are still there as are the stairs and it is possible to climb right up to the top of the fourth floor from where you have a fantastic view. In my opinion the view from here is actually better than that obtained from the other house.
There's not a great deal to see inside the house but it is still a place that shouldn't be dismissed. Some of the original rooms still exist, including the kitchens though these are now without any furnishings. Information boards throughout the house do however inform the visitor of what they are looking at and there are artist impressions showing what the rooms would have once looked like. One of the most remarkable features for me was the ornately painted plasterwork which is quite well preserved.
Unlike the Old Hall, the West Lodge has been fully restored. Inside here there was an exhibition about Bess of Hardwick which told the story of the building of the Old Hall and also details how this building, where Bess was born would have originally looked.
Due to the condition of this building only the rooms on the ground floor are accessible by wheelchair users as the other floors can only be reached by steps.
It is open between March and the end of September. Admission charges are:
Adult - £4.00
Child - £2.00
Concession - £3.20
Family ticket - £10.00
English Heritage members - free
An audio tour is also available which is included within the above price.
Hardwick Old Hall
Summary: The first home of Bess of Hardwick
More reviews in the field of Sightseeing National
- Warwick Castle - A fantastic day out !!
- A must see attraction of dublin
- Takes as long as you want
- Crocky Trail - Try it if you dare!
- Fabulous free day out
- Watch Gannets Soar and Puffins Plummet
- Northumberland's New Lady
- Cotswold On The Cheap!
- The only thing missing is the sand.
- A beautiful Royal private home.
- Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens (Greater Manchester)
- Site Gallery (Sheffield)
- Cleethorpes Pier
- Rufford Old Hall
- London New Year's Day Parade
- Dunvagen Castle (Skye)
- Womack Staithe (Norfolk)
- Cheshire Ice Cream Farm (Cheshire)
- Snugbury's Ice Cream Farm (Cheshire)
- Gateshead Millennium Bridge (Gateshead)