One of the most complete Elizabethan mansions in the country, Hardwick Hall was designed by eminent architect Robert Smythson. The hall featured all the latest mod-cons of the time, including fully glazed windows. The atmospheric interiors are decked out with magnificent tapestries and oil paintings of forgotten dignitaries.
Hardwick Hall is 10 miles southeast of Chesterfield, just off the M1; it's best reached by your own wheels.
The hall was home to the 16th-century's second-most powerful woman, Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury (known to all as Bess of Hardwick), who amassed a staggering fortune by marrying wealthy noblemen with one foot in the grave. Hardwick Hall was constructed using her inheritance from husband number four, who shuffled off this mortal coil in 1590.
Set aside time to explore the formal gardens or the longer walking trails of Hardwick Park.
Next door to the manor are the ruins of Bess' first house, Hardwick Old Hall.