The House from a circa 1905 postcard
The Entrance Facade from a circa 1911 postcard
The Entrance Facade
The Entrance Facade
The Front Garden
Built / Designed For: Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury.
House & Family History: Hardwick is one of Britain's greatest and most complete Elizabethan houses. It was built in the late 16th century by the indomitable Bess of Hardwick (she had four husbands, each richer than the one before) and is remarkable for being almost unchanged since her time. Bess came from a slightly impoverished Derbyshire gentry family and, as a young woman, worked as a gentlewoman for Sir John and Lady Zouche of Codnor Castle, Derbyshire. Bess's son, William, was made baron Cavendish of Hardwick in 1605; in 1618 he purchased from the crown the title of earl of Devonshire for £10,000. In August of 1619, the prince of Wales, later Charles I, had dinner at Hardwick during a visit to Welbeck in Nottinghamshire. The 2nd Earl of Devonshire famously hired Thomas Hobbes, philosopher and author of "Behemoth" and "Leviathan," to tutor his son, later the 3rd Earl; legend has it that Hobbes now haunts the path under the walls of the Old Hall. Some interiors from Chatsworth and a variety of furnishings from Londesborough Hall (a former Cavendish house in Yorkshire, now demolished) were moved to Hardwick by the 6th Duke of Devonshire (the 4th Earl was created 1st Duke of Devonshire in 1694) in the early 19th century. The National Trust acquired Hardwick in 1956 when the 11th Duke of Devonshire handed it over to the government in lieu of tax arising from the death of his father, the 10th Duke. The famous ditty, "Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall," may go back centuries, and refers to a time when glass was exceptionally expensive and rare. The word "Hardwick" may be loosely translated as "sheep farm."
Collections: Hardwick contains outstanding collections of 16th century embroidery, tapestries, furniture, and portraits.
Comments: Hardwick is frequently referred to as "Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall."
Garden & Outbuildings: Walled courtyards enclose fine gardens, orchards, and an herb garden. The current garden design dates from the 17th century. The Brew House, Wash House, and Dairy were all added between 1589 and 1591. The Hardwick Estate today houses the Stone Centre in a renovated pump house on the Estate; here eight stonemasons work on the repair and replacement of the stonework of the great house and the garden walls.
J.B. Burke: Vol. II, p. 65, 1853.
Country Life: II, 434, 464, 1897. XIII, 710, 1903. LVII, 229 [Furniture], 320 [Furniture], 422 [Wall Hangings], 1925. LXI, 328 [Needlework], 499 [Tapestry], 661 [Furniture], 1927. LXIV, 806 plan, 870, 904, 934, 1928. CXXII, 346, 1957. CLIV, 1786 [Embroideries], 1973.
Title: Bess of Hardwick: Empire Builder
Author: Lovell, Mary S.
Year Published: 2006
Reference: pg. 490
Publisher: New York: W.W. Norton & Company
Book Type: Hardback
Title: Royal Oak Newsletter, The
Year Published: NA
Reference: Summer 2004, pg. 9
Publisher: New York: The Royal Oak Foundation
Book Type: Magazine
Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
Author: Colvin, Howard
Year Published: 1995
Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
Book Type: Softback
Title: Hardwick Hall Guidebook
Author: Girouard, Mark
Year Published: 1996
Publisher: London: The National Trust
Book Type: Softback
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade I
Past Seat of: Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, 16th century; William Cavendish, 2nd Earl of Devonshire, 17th century; Spencer Compton Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, 19th century; Cavendish family here 1597 until 1956.
Current Ownership Type: The National Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction
Ownership Details: The National Trust acquired the House in 1956.