Sunday, May 29, 2016

At Hardwick Hall

As promised here is my second post about our visit to Hardwick.  This time I will write about the new hall which was built by Bess of Hardwick in 1590 after the death of her last (of four) husbands George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury.  Bess, born Elizabeth Hardwick, is a fascinating character who rose, throughout her long life, from being the daughter of a minor landowner of gentleman/yeoman stock to being a powerful figure in Elizabethan England and the second richest woman in the country after Elizabeth I.  This was achieved mainly from her ability to marry strategically and well.  I could fill many posts with the story of Bess but she is well documented so if you are interested in her life there are many books and articles to read.

Let's wander across from the old hall (see my post here) to the newer hall which was begun before the older one was completed.  

The architect was Robert Smythson who is also known for his work at Wollaton Hall in nearby Nottingham and Longleat House in Wiltshire

The building is quite imposing and also quite symmetrical which is unusual for Tudor buildings.

You can see the ES for Elizabeth Shrewsbury on the top of each tower.  I mentioned in my post on the old hall that at school not very far away we used to learn the saying 'Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall' and you can imagine how overwhelmed people would have been by their first  sight of the Hall when it was newly built.

You enter on the ground floor and these apartments were private family ones.  Visitors were ushered up the stone staircases, past the wall hangings and tapestries to the long gallery and the great chamber as the visitor rose through the hall the smaller and less significant he or she would feel.  It was a building built to display the power, wealth and importance of the owner.
I think the stairs are what I remember most about various visit to Hardwick.  I remember bringing my Mum in the last couple of years of her life.  She'd lived close by for many, many years and had never been inside only in the grounds so we went in whilst Paul stopped outside with my Dad.  We had to pause on the steps many times for her to catch her breath but she made it all the way through and was delighted to have been inside.

The Muniments room c.1603 where all the records of the the building and family deeds and records were kept.  I meant to ask if the drawers still contain any records or if they were at the main family seat at Chatsworth or even in archive offices.  I assume they are elsewhere.

A photo of a small section of  the Tobit table carpet which is on display under glass in the old school room as part of the 'Stitches in Time' exhibition.  The story told around the carpet is from the Old Testament and incorporates the date of 1579 and the initials G.E.T.S. for George and Elizabeth Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury.

The table carpet looks unfinished and bare in places in the centre. This could, of course, be from wear and tear although the carpet would have been covered by a damask cloth at meal times.  In her will Bess requested that all her embroideries and needlework 'be protected from all manner of wet, moth and other hurt' but this wasn't done until fairly recently.  It took 18 years to find and re-assemble the 305 pieces of the carpet after cleaning and analysing the dyes and threads.

Above is the large, applique hanging one of four entitled 'Virtuous Women'. The one above depicts Penelope, wife of Ulysses. To her left is Patience and to her right Perseverance.  The four hangings, which are gradually being conserved, were brought to Hardwick by Bess from her home at Chatsworth.

Detail from one of the hangings on the stairs.  Most of the hangings were made in Flanders and bought in England, although more expensive than other wall coverings there were much easier to install as they can ready made.

Above in the Great Chamber are portraits of Bess herself, her granddaughter Arbella Stuart, who was also the niece of Mary, Queen of Scots and of course in the centre Elizabeth I.  A lot of this area of the hall is dedicated to an exhibition about the life of Arbella which is quite a sad one.  Link to more about Arbella.

The most outstanding feature of the Great Chamber are the plaster friezes around the tops of the walls mostly depicting hunting scenes.

I loved the details in it especially of the rabbit and deer.

The green cut velvet hangings on the bed  in the green velvet room date from the early 18th century.
The kitchens are now set out as kitchens.  This sounds an odd thing to say but the last time we visited the cafe was in this area,  it is now in the buildings where you enter the property.  We didn't visit it as we had a picnic lunch waiting in the car.

After visiting both halls we didn't spend too much time in the gardens so I took very few photos.  I just enjoyed walking around them

I couldn't resist taking one or two though especially of the clematis below.  The garden is enclosed in stone walls with lovely hedged walks and vistas of both old and new halls.

I apologise for the length of this post and hope you have enjoyed the facts and photos.  There is so much to see and take in and I realise that there are some things I have missed along the way.  Like the long gallery for instance and the exhibition about Evelyn, the last 'Lady of Hardwick.'

I'm so glad I visited again after such a long time.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Five on Friday

It's Friday so once again I'm joining in with  Amy at Love Made my Home for this week's Five on Friday. 

Five things that have made me smile this week

1.  Visitors to the Garden - Squirrels and theirs kits have been visiting the garden to pinch the bird food and brother fox visited early on Tuesday morning in the brilliant sunshine.  Normally foxes dash through the garden late evening but this one sat for a while and then decided to pinch the birds' buggy nibbles.

 2.  Lazy Cats in the Sunshine - I once saw a cartoon that depicted a cat fast asleep near a food bowl and the caption was 'Happiness is twenty three hours sleep a day and plenty of "Fato Cato",' I think Chloe has taken this to heart this week.  We had visitors here for lunch and most of the afternoon on Wednesday and she never even knew they were here.  Slept through it all.  The privileges of being a twenty year old I expect.

3.  More baby ducklings - sorry I know I wrote about baby ducks and water birds for my last Five on Friday post but I couldn't resist these gorgeous ducks in the courtyard garden at the Emma Bridgewater factory up in the city centre.  They are Appleyard Crested Ducklings. 

4.  Oasis in the City - the Bridgewater factory, shops and cafe are on a main road up towards the city centre but the little garden there is a peaceful oasis.  You'd never know the main road was just over the wall.  The flowers in the garden were delightful.  All the colours and shapes I love.

5.  Little things that catch the eye - back to Hardwick Hall and I know I still have a post to write about the new Hall having written about the old hall in my last post but I thought I would feature a few things that made me smile in the gardens and shop.  Lilac and laburnum trees and grasses in the herb garden plus a seahorse plate and little mice in the shop.
Click on the link below to find other bloggers who are joining in with 

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hardwick Old Hall

Hardwick Old Hall in North East Derbyshire was built by the redoubtable Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, or Bess of Hardwick as she is more often known, between 1587 and 1596.

 It is maintained by English Heritage and you can wander around the atmospheric ruins to your hearts content.

 I visited here some years ago but this time there was a new reception area, exhibition and shop and there did seem to be more of the building open to view than I remembered from my previous visits.

Open to view are apt words as everything is open to the outside world and the blue sky above.  Pigeons and swallows accompany you on your way around.

 On and on up the stairs as you head for the blue skies above.

 There are many of the Italianate plaster over mantles left

 Showing how grand and up to date for the time the old hall was.

 You can climb up the stairs right up to the fourth floor where the Hill Great Chamber was. Above was a lead roof with walkway where guests would walk to take in the views across the countryside.

 Before this hall was finished Bess had started to build another one close by, this time using architect Robert Smythson who was also architect of Wollaton Hall in Nottingham.

 There is a myth that the old hall was abandoned in favour of the new one but it was in fact intended that each should complement the other and the older hall wasn't partly demolished until 1745. 

 The ruins were left and made part of the grounds and gardens when trees were planted within the ruins in the 1790s.  Given that this is the time for the fashion and appreciation of both the Gothic and the Picturesque movements you can see why this might have been done.
 The views from the top of the old hall across the countryside are amazing.  It's an area I know well as I grew up in a village no more than three miles away and we learnt at school about Hardwick Hall and Bess of Hardwick.

The countryside stretches for miles and you wouldn't know that the M1 motorway is down there somewhere.  You can see both Hardwick Halls and nearby Bolsover Castle from the motorway standing proud on their hills for all to see and be impressed by.

From the other sides you can look down over the stable block where the National Trust now have their administrative buildings, shops and cafe.  This had changed since our last visit as we remembered coming into the grounds from the opposite direction and showing our passes at a kiosk near the gate of the new hall.  The National Trust now own and maintain the new hall, gardens and grounds. 
When we were at school we also learnt the saying 'Hardwick Hall more Glass than Wall' and looking over from the ruins of the old hall to the new one you can see that this is true.  I'll take you to the new hall in another post.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Five on Friday

It's Friday so once again I'm joining in with  Amy at Love Made my Home for this week's Five on Friday. 

Yesterday morning we went for a walk around the lake before the rain set in so all my photos are lakeside related.  It's the time of year for new life with baby birds being fed by their parents and new growth on the trees and shrubs. 
Below are some signs of new life spotted as we walked.

1.  Ducklings - Mallard ducklings with  their mum.
2.  Goslings - Canada Goose gosling with one of its parents.

3.  Young Coots - not sure what young coots are called other than chicks so I'll call them 'cootlings.'  Looks like the whole family are here.

4. Cygnets - this swan had six cygnets.

5. Starlings - meanwhile back home there are loads of Starlings and their young in the garden.  They are very amusing to watch as the baby starlings just sit with their beaks wide open and parents scurry around trying to find food to satisfy them.

Click on the link below to find other bloggers who are joining in with 

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

In the Garden

We've been busy in the garden over the last few days.  So much has changed in the last week.  The daffodils, muscarii and tulips have gone now and the blooms have moved on to the next stage of Spring flowering.
The Wild Garlic at the top of the garden is in flower.  I really must try to use some of it this year to make soup or pesto.  I say this every year and somehow never do.  It just looks so pretty.  The woods where we have been walking are full of it this year and it is such a delight to walk with carpets of white and also still carpets of blue from the bluebells under the trees.

Last year we bought a small blueberry plant and I wasn't sure if it would survive the winter but it has and it is flowering.  I was so pleased to see the flowers.

Also in flower now are the Geums above and below, we also have a yellow Geum called Lemon Drops but try as I might I couldn't get a clear photo of their shy, drooping little heads.  The pink Geum is Rivale and I've lost the tag for and completely forgotten what the red/orange one above is called.

There are Aquilegias in all sorts of colours

I love the ones above and below with their pretty white 'underskirts' showing.

This plant is also known as Granny's bonnet or Columbine

Above Clematis Montana

Buds on the Chives

Perennial Cornflower



Creeping Blue Ceanothus
The ferns are unfurling their leaves.   I've no idea what kind of fern this is so if anyone can identify it I'd be grateful.  Same with the red Geum above.

In the greenhouse we have seedlings for white foxgloves, Californian poppies and nasturtiums.  All waiting to find a home somewhere in the garden. 

I think work in the garden will be abandoned for a day or two as we have rain coming our way but I hope we can get back our there soon as there is still such a lot to do.