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Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

Historical Description

Hardwick Hall, a seat of the Duke of Devonshire, in Ault Hucknall parish, Derbyshire, near the boundary with Notts, 4½ miles E of Clay Cross railway station, and 6½ SE of Chesterfield. A previous hall, now a ruin, stands adjacent; retains several rooms in a tolerably good state, adorned with very interesting specimens of parquetting, and was the birthplace of the accomplished Elizabeth Hardwick, heiress of the Hardwick family, and commonly known as " Bess of Hardwick." That lady married, first, Robert Barley of Barley; then Sir William Cavendish, ancestor of the present Duke of Devonshire; then Sir William St Loe; then George, Earl of Shrewsbury, whom she survived seventeen years, and she was one of the most remarkable characters of the time. The present hall was founded by her in 1590, and it is surmounted by a curious open-work parapet, embracing frequent repetitions of her initials E. S., and having her arms pierced in the stone-work. It stands on a bold height, overlooking a fine park, and commanding a rich view over portions of Derbyshire and Notts; it presents a most imposing appearance, from its magnitude, its loftiness, and its symmetry; it has windows so numerous and large as to have occasioned a popular saying, " Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall;" is surmounted by six towers, and, both as to its architecture and as to the furniture which it contains, is a perfect specimen of a Tudor mansion. Mary Queen of Scots is commonly said to have been imprisoned in it, but though she may have been occasionally in the old hall, and though she used furniture at Chatsworth which was removed hither and is preserved in what are called her apartments, she could not have been in the present mansion, for the good reason that it was not founded till three years after her death. The great hall in it, however, has a beautiful statue of her, by Westmacott; the picture gallery, occupying most of the E front, and measuring 170 feet in length, 22 in width, and 26 in height, contains portraits of her and of Queen Elizabeth, and upwards of 170 other portraits, chiefly of the Devonshire family and its connections; and the other rooms, together with the chapel, are fitted up in a costly and antique style, and hung with curiously-wrought tapestry.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Church Records, in conjunction with the Derbyshire Record Office, have the Church of England Baptisms (1538-1916), Marriages and Banns (1538-1932), and Burials (1538-1991) online.


Online maps of Hardwick Hall are available from a number of sites: