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Hardwick Hall

Hardwick Hall was built in 1590-9 for Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, also known as ‘Bess of Hardwick’. Built by Robert Smythson, Hardwick is one of the earliest English interpretations of Italian Renaissance architecture, and stands as one of the greatest of all Elizabethan houses. Huge grids of glass are used to great effect in this rectangular, turreted building, leading observers to rhyme ‘Hardwick Hall, more window than wall’. Each tower is crowned with a balustrade incorporating an ‘E.S.’ motif (for Elizabeth Shrewsbury), and each of the 3 main storeys has a ceiling higher than the one below. Hardwick boasts arguably the most spectacular Elizabethan interiors in England, with plasterwork by Abraham Smith, overmantels by Thomas Accres, and a classical screen by William Griffin, all dating from the 1590s. Hardwick was transferred to the National Trust from Bess’s descendants, the Dukes of Devonshire, in 1959.

Visitor Information

Address:
Doe Lea,
Chesterfield,
Derbyshire,
England,
S44 5QJ

Telephone: 01246 850430

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardwick

Accredited Museum

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire (Accredited Museum)

This collection has 6,300 items online

Uniquely among Elizabethan houses, Hardwick retains the textures of its original decoration - huge Flemish tapestries, Persian table-carpets, painted wall-hangings, coloured plaster friezes, inlaid furniture, rows of original portraits, and the finest collection of 16th and early 17th century needlework in the world. Many can still be identified in the detailed inventory that Bess had compiled in 1601.

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