24 May 2010

Castles and Halls

Last Saturday David and I were out and about again, trolling off down the M1 to Hardwick Hall, near Chesterfied, Derbyshire.  This was once the home of Bess of Hardwick, quite a character in Elizabethan times.  She was married 4 times, had 8 children, though 6 survived and amassed quite a wealth.  She had one Hall built but it was too small, then had another built near the first one just 3 years later.  Over the years the old hall was dismantled so only the remains are standing, but it does make the building more interesting.  We then went and explored the new hall and there was quite a bit to see.

We think that she saw herself a bit like royalty as the Great Hall has two throne like chairs at the end so she could receive visitors!  There are numerous woven tapestries that are in need of renovation, some of which were a collection which she purchased from the son of a gentleman that died to pay his debts.  When she found it had his coat of arms, she bargained for a discount.  So here are a few pics of Hardwick Hall, most of them will be on my facebook page.

Top is an actress depicting Bess of Hardwick, telling her story.  Second is the old Hall.  Third is the new Hall looking from ruins of the old.  The bottom photo there are 3 ladies dressed in Elizabethan dress which they made themselves from authentic patterns.

And castles?
When I was in Christchurch, the nearby village of Highcliffe has a castle which I went to visit one afternoon.  Having been built by the 3rd Earl of Bute it had a chequered history and once was resided by Gordon Selfridge, founder to Selfridges department store.  There was fire damage in the 80s and this was in a sorry state, but in recent years it has and continues to be restored.  I went there to see a textile exhibition, a few pics of which are on Maggie Grey's blog, as she is one of the exhibitors but unfortunately it didn't allow photography.  However I can share some photos of the Castle itself and it's view to the Isle of Wight.

Top is the stained glass window in the great hall. Next is a view out of the window ( I loved the design of that window and couldn't resist taking a photo. Thirdly the main entrance to the castle.  Bottom shows a very misty view between the trees out to the Isle of Wight, you can just see the Needles.

Just about catching up with my blog posts and I am sewing.  Will have something to show soon, promise.


  1. I never went to Hardwick Hall, but I know she lived at Knole in Sevenoaks for a while. I think Hardwick was built after Knole, so perhaps that lovely house influenced Hardwick.

  2. Lovely photos. Have you read Philippa Gregory's "The Other Queen"? This is what Google books has to say:

    This dazzling novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory presents a new and unique view of one of history's most intriguing, romantic, and maddening heroines. Biographers often neglect the captive years of Mary, Queen of Scots, who trusted Queen Elizabeth's promise of sanctuary when she fled from rebels in Scotland and then found herself imprisoned as the "guest" of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his indomitable wife, Bess of Hardwick.

    The newly married couple welcome the doomed queen into their home, certain that serving as her hosts and jailers will bring them an advantage in the cutthroat world of the Elizabethan court. To their horror, they find that the task will bankrupt them, and as their home becomes the epicenter of intrigue and rebellion against Elizabeth, their loyalty to each other and to their sovereign comes into question. If Mary succeeds in seducing the earl into her own web of treachery and treason, or if the great spymaster William Cecil links them to the growing conspiracy to free Mary from her illegal imprisonment, they will all face the headsman.

  3. Wow, Lis, what a story! Bess seemed a very forceful and indomitable character as you've said. I can imagine that her and the Earl would have been trying to curry favour with the Royal Court if it might have been to their advantage.

    I haven't read Philippa Gregory's books as I'm more into contemporary books than historical, but maybe might take a look at her books.


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