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Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, is one of the most significant Elizabethan country houses in England. In common with its architect Robert Smythson’s other works at both Longleat House and Wollaton Hall, Hardwick Hall is one of the earliest examples of the English interpretation of the Renaissance style of architecture, which came into fashion when it was no longer thought necessary to fortify one’s home. Hardwick Hall is situated on a hilltop between Chesterfield and Mansfield, overlooking the Derbyshire countryside. The house was designed for Bess of Hardwick, Countess of Shrewsbury and ancestress of the Dukes of Devonshire, by Robert Smythson in the late 16th century and remained in that family until it was handed over to HM Treasury in lieu of Estate Duty in 1956. The Treasury transferred the house to the National Trust in 1959. As it was a secondary residence of the Dukes of Devonshire, whose main country house was nearby Chatsworth, it was little altered over the centuries and indeed, from the early 19th century, its antique atmosphere was consciously preserved. Hardwick is a conspicuous statement of the wealth and power of Bess of Hardwick, who was the richest woman in England after Queen Elizabeth I herself. It was one of the first English houses where the great hall was built on an axis through the centre of the house rather than at right angles to the entrance. Each of the three main storeys is higher than the one below, and a grand, winding, stone staircase leads up to a suite of state rooms on the second floor, which includes one of the largest long galleries in any English house and a little-altered, tapestry-hung great chamber with a spectacular plaster frieze of hunting scenes. The windows are exceptionally large and numerous for the 16th century and were a powerful statement of wealth at a time when glass was a luxury, leading to the saying, “Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall” . There is a large amount of fine tapestry and furniture from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A remarkable feature of the house is that much of the present furniture and other contents are listed in an inventory dating from 1601. Hardwick Hall contains a large collection of embroideries, mostly dating from the late 16th century, many of which are listed in the 1601 inventory. Some of the needlework on display in the house incorporates Bess’s monogram “ES”, and may have been worked on by Bess herself. Hardwick is open to the public. It has a fine garden, including herbaceous borders, a vegetable and herb garden, and an orchard.The extensive grounds also contain Hardwick Old Hall, a slightly earlier house which was used as guest and service accommodation after the new hall was built. The Old Hall is now a ruin. It is administered by English Heritage on behalf of the National Trust and is also open to the public

Official Website : www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-hardwickhall

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Castles

Castles were first built in England during the Norman Conquest in the 11th century as fortifications. There are many hundreds of castles throughout England some in good repair whilst others have all but completely disappeared other than a few stones to mark the spot.

Castles

Lakes

England has many lakes spread out over the whole of the country but the most famous must be the Lake District which draws around 16 million visitors each year to admire the beauty of the countryside around the lakesides. Lake Windermere is England’s largest lake.

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National Parks

The National Parks of England are quite diverse but all have in common one thing and that is their beauty. From the windswept reaches of Dartmoor and Exmoor to the mountains and lakes of the Lake District or the ancient, peaceful tranquility of the New Forest all are worthy of a visit.

National Parks

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