What does England do better than scones? Better than roses and delphiniums on a summer afternoon? That's right - it's a stately home. And in this extract from our full-colour Discover Great Britain guide, we look at one of the best - Hardwick Hall.
This Elizabethan hall should rank high on your list of must-see stately homes. It was home to the 16th century’s second-most-powerful woman, Elizabeth, countess of Shrewsbury – known to all as Bess of Hardwick. Bess’s fourth husband died in 1590, leaving her with a huge pile of cash to play with, and she had Hardwick Hall built using the designs of eminent architect Robert Smythson. Glass was a status symbol, so she went all out on the windows; as a contemporary ditty quipped, ‘Hardwick Hall – more glass than wall’. Also magnificent are the High Great Chamber and Long Gallery.
Next door is Bess’s first house, Hardwick Old Hall, now a romantic ruin. Also fascinating are the formal gardens, and the hall sits in the great expanse of Hardwick Park with short and long walking trails leading across fields and through woods. Ask at the ticket office for details. Hardwick Hall is 10 miles southeast of Chesterfield, just off the M1.