I'd never heard of Hardwick Hall before until a friend mentioned it to us. It's located not far from the M1 in Derbyshire and is stewarded by the National Trust. After a scenic drive up to the hall itself the hall and the gardens come into their own.
On the day we decided to visit, the weather was changeable to say the least. We arrived in bright sunshine and after a cup of coffee and we started to walk up to the hall, thunder boomed and the heavens opened. I regretted leaving my jacket at home.
The hall dates back to the 1500s when it was built by Bess of Hardwick, a Lady in Waiting to Elizabeth I and a powerful woman in her own right. As much as I would have enjoyed taking pictures of the impressive interior the delicate nature of some of the exhibits and the diffuse lighting keep the interior in a protective gloom. The history of Arabella, Bess's granddaughter is told throughout the hall and illustrates the dangers of being of a royal lineage. Hardwick ended up being her prison rather than a palace.
The original hall was left fall into disrepair once the new hall was constructed.