Elizabeth (Bess), Countess of Shrewsbury, built Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire as a display of wealth and power. However, Bess came from modest beginnings. Her father was not much more than a yeoman, yet Bess was able to climb the social ladder through a string of marriages to wealthy men.
Bess was first married at the age of 14 and widowed at 15. Her second marriage was to Sir William Cavendish in 1547. The couple had 8 children together, one of their grandchildren was William Cavendish, who built Bolsover New Castle. When Cavendish died in 1557, Bess inherited his fortune. She then married Sir William St Loe in 1559, on his death in 1565, Bess became one of the richest women in England. In 1568, Bess married George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury and the richest man in England. They remained married until his death in 1590.
In 1590, Bess began the building of Hardwick Hall. The house was completed in 1597 with Bess living there her death on the 13th February 1608, aged 81.
Useful Informationfor visitors
The hall managed by The National Trust. Entry to the house and garden is £15 for an
adult and parking is £5, garden only entry is £7.50. The house is open from 11am to 5pm from
Wednesdays to Sundays. The garden is open daily from 09:00 – 18:00 and the park
is open from Park Dawn to dusk. There is
also a shop and restaurant.
Hardwick Old Hall is managed by English Heritage but it is
currently closed for renovation work.
The last time I visited Sutton Scarsdale was approximately a year ago. The first thing that I noticed on my return, was that nothing had changed in terms of the conservation work that is going on. Understandably you can’t go inside the ruin due to health and safety but it feels like English Heritage have forgotten about this place.
The hall was a Baroque style mansion built for the 4th Earl of Scarsdale in the 1720s. In 1919, a descendant of the famous Sir Richard Arkwright (I intend to do some articles on Sir Richard in the future) purchased the hall, subsequently selling it to a company of asset strippers. Unfortunately this was common practice in the 20th century. I’ve visited many shells and grounds of beautiful halls that were torn down and either shipped overseas, or simply just demolished. Errwood Hall in the upper Goyt Valley, Darley Hall in Derbyshire and Broomhead Hall in Sheffield are just a few.
Changes in social conditions in the 20th century brought about the destruction of many large halls. The upkeep of the buildings was incredibly costly as well as income tax and death duties contributing to loss of wealth. The website Lost Heritage documents 1,998 houses that have been demolished in England.
Like Sutton Scarsdale, Broomhead hall was shipped to America. Some of the interiors from Sutton Scarsdale are on display at the Museum of Art in Philadelphia. Along with some at the Huntington Library in California after being used as a set for a film, Kitty, in 1934.
The site is managed by English Heritage and is accessed down a small road. The EH website states that opening times are Summer Daily 10am – 6pm, Winter Daily 10am – 4pm. Entry is free and there is a small carpark.
Bolsover Castle was built to lavishly entertain guests and is often called the playboy Mansion of the 17th century.
Bolsover Castle can be traced back to the 12th century, but that it not what stands today. The image above is of Bolsover Little Castle, which was built by Sir William Cavendish in the 17th century as a retreat for entertaining guests. One of which was Charles I. To the right of the image is a statue of Venus in the Fountain garden.
Sir William Cavendish loved horses. The building in front is the stables and indoor Riding School, which William Cavendish built to house the many exotic horses that he imported from overseas.
A study by the University of Sheffield suggests the Star Chamber was used as an auditorium for aristocratic plays and country house masques.
The image above was painted in 1619, and is a depiction of Christ’s ascension into heaven surrounded by angels.
Unfortunately, only the Little Castle and the Stables remain intact today. William Cavendish also built the Terrace Range which overlooks Vale of Scarsdale. It was left to go to ruin by William’s son, Henry.
Tips for visitors.
Bolsover Castle is managed by English
Heritage. The cost of entry for an adult
as of 2019 is £11.80 and a child is £7.10.
If they have a special event on, there is an additional charge even if
you are an English Heritage member. On
busy days the small carpark gets full, there is additional parking opposite the
main car park and there is another carpark if you pass the castle to your
right, but the entrance is quite concealed and I didn’t notice it until I had
parked up and was walking back to the castle.
There is street parking but like anywhere, this is not ideal. I parked on the street and someone parked
about an inch from my bumper. Luckily I
had left enough room in front of me to get out.
In the summer the castle opens from 10am until 6pm, in winter, hours are