Hardwick Hall (Derbyshire): a house with more glass than wall

That is how people responded to Bess of Hardwick’s house when she first built it.

It’s not hard to see why.

Her family crest involved the stags.

Some rooms are a bit “Victorian” (hiss).

Bess of Hardwick had four husbands and accumulated wealth to rival Elizabeth I.  She also oversaw the building of (old) Chatsworth House and Hardwick Hall: a fortune-teller once told her that if she ever stopped building, she would die – something she would never forget.

Bess was born at what is now Hardwick Old Hall – a simple country manor house in Derbyshire.  Its skeleton is now looked after by English Heritage and stands eerily just outside the garden wall of Hardwick Hall.

At 20, Bess married a local man, Robert Barley, who died leaving her penniless.  Sir William Cavendish, who had bought Chatsworth in 1549, became her second husband, but he also died.  Sir William St Loe, her third husband, died in 1565, leaving her seriously rich.

Bess moved on to the Earl of Shrewsbury, guardian to Mary Queen of Scots, but when shesought to orchestrate the marriage of her daughter to the brother of Lord Darnley, Mary’s ex-husband and father(?!) of James I of England, the Earl objected to her scheming and left her in protest.

That was the bud that created Hardwick

 Bess moved away from Chatsworth to Hardwick Old Hall, which she remodeled.  When the Earl died in 1590 the septuagenarian employed Robert Smythson to design Hardwick Hall for her.  It was completed in 1597 and Hardwick Old Hall left to rot.

Bess could give Elizabeth I a run for her style!

We talk about double height spaces being impressive – look at the height in here.  Bess made her main entertaining space high up.  We needed a rest once we got up here!

There is a lot of sea grass carpeting.

While I don’t like kitchens I do like storage rooms and the bespoke estate furniture.

When visited: September 2012

Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardwick/

Theme tune: Glass

5 thoughts on “Hardwick Hall (Derbyshire): a house with more glass than wall

  1. I am so grateful to see inside Hardwick, as I only saw the outside when we drove by on our way from Derbyshire to London. It is truly stunning. I also like the house because Bess’s initials are mine too.

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