Weekend in Leeds, part 2 – Hardwick Hall

After Nostell yesterday, we then headed to Hardwick Hall. Although pretty cloudy (see below), it was stunning. This year, the house is celebrating its association with Arbella Stuart, niece of Mary, Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick’s protegee. Bess, Arbella’s grandmother, built the house and attempted throughout Arbella’s youth to realise her not insubstantial claim to the English throne. Arbella had other ideas, however, and ended up imprisoned in the Tower after a secret marriage.

Hardwick Hall

Gripping as it is, the experience of the house runs alongside and yet beyond these two fiesty Elizabethan women. Built in 1590, the house is one of the earliest examples of English Renaissance architecture, and seems to herald the arrival of the ‘country house’. Its very structure has been built to accommodate the more traditional hierarchy of master and servant, with very separate living quarters and ceiling height and scale to reflect the seniority of that room’s inhabitants. It also sees a move toward the more decorative architectural style, and a departure from the fortifications of castles of old.

Bedroom at Hardwick Hall

As Hardwick Hall is situated in Derbyshire, a fascinating room filled with title deeds, maps and so on reminded us of other beautiful houses nearby…

Deed drawers at Hardwick Hall

As so often with National Trust properties, the gardens were worth a visit, but in the grounds of Hardwick Hall there were a few surprises. (He’s getting very good at pictures of flowers. [Why thank you.] I take some credit…)


A couple of tiny fairy dwellings which we stumbled across…

Fairy house at Hardwick Hall

A bit of falconry…

Tawny owl at Hardwick Hall

And, most fascinatingly, Hardwick Old Hall, which pre-empted the newer building by just a few years. We were in a bit of a rush and didn’t snap a picture of it, but it is a dramatic ruin just a few minutes’ walk from the new house, which was built by Bess to be bigger and grander.

And, if that wasn’t enough, the newer Hall was also Malfoy Manor in the Harry Potter films. We’ll see you there…

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