Saturday, 4 April 2009

When One House Just Isn't Enough

Yesterday I told you a little about our visit to Stainsby Mill in Derbyshire. The mill is part of the Hardwick Estate, but one of the strangest things about Hardwick is that it had not one, but two grand country houses in very close proximity.

Hardwick Hall
Hardwick Hall (above) is well-maintained and furnished, but just across the road the old hall lies in ruins:

Hardwick Old Hall
Bess of Hardwick (1527-1608), who owned the estate, had become extremely wealthy by a series of marriages. At one stage she was using both houses simultaneously, keeping the new hall mostly for herself and her visitors, and the old hall for servants and staff.

Later the old hall was allowed to fall into disrepair, just an amusing folly in the garden.

Hardwick Old Hall
One of the most amazing features preserved in the old hall is a series of plaster mouldings, which would have been inside the hall but are now (alarmingly) exposed to the elements. English Heritage, who maintain the old hall, are considering how best to preserve the plaster for future generations to enjoy.

Plaster mouldings at Hardwick Old Hall
There's a huge flight of stairs surviving in the old hall, and by climbing it you can look across to the new hall and see just how close together they are.

Hardwick Hall viewed from Hardwick Old Hall
You can also see the mill ponds which supply extra water to Stainsby Mill when the river is low.

Mill ponds at Hardwick
You can see more of my Hardwick photos on Flickr if you're interested.


Kinglear said...

I *sigh* as usual. Very cool.

Chef E said...

Oh gosh Rachel I am so envious of your surroundings! Beautiful, just beautiful! Love the history of it other house is called a 'Kia', lol

Domestic Executive said...

Amazing to think that they had that much money in those days. I wonder what people would think if the wealthy did that these days. Great pictures, I love historic houses and the stories behind them. I'm such a National Trust and English Heritage nut!

The other night we watched a rerun on the couple on Grand Designs who saved a falling down wreck of a castle. It was amazing what they did to transform it into a home.

Jeanne said...

Hardwick Hall/More glass than wall. I read a (fictionalized) biography of Bess once, but this bit of doggerel is all I remember....

Holler said...

That looks a bit precarious climbing up there, but great views!

Anonymous said...

This post is both pain and pleasure to behold! One one hand I find it interesting and I could spend days just admiring the pictures and wishing to learn more about such a beautiful house, but on the other hand I wish I had similar pictures to ogle as I am certain pictures and the experience of having been there are two very different things. Thank you for posting, however, for I only pulled your leg with my comment; this post was nothing but a pleasure to read.

Emmie said...

I think I may need to make a trip to derbyshire in the near future! x

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