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 (above) is well-maintained and furnished, but just across the road the old hall lies in ruins:
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.
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.
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.
You can also see the mill ponds which supply extra water to Stainsby Mill when the river is low.
You can see more of my Hardwick photos on Flickr if you're interested.