Artist's Impression of the Hill Great ChamberThe picture to the left shows an artists impression of what the Hill Great Chamber would have looked like, showing clearly that the room is full of design elements taken from ancient Roman architecture.  The pictures below are taken from the roof level and you can just see the remains of the balustrade that allowed the guests to safely take advantage of the roof walk.

The fireplace wall faces west, the direction of Chatsworth, the home Bess created with her husband Sir William Cavendish.  The windows to the north are facing towards Bolsover castle which was owned by her son Sir Charles Cavendish and the windows to the  South face towards Wingfield manor.  The later was a property of her last husband the Earl of Shrewsbury and Bess temporarily lived there whilst she built the Old Hall.

The central panel makes a point about Bess’ long life and her slow, steady rise to the top:

The winged figure is copied from a Flemish engraving, published in 1559, that shows the triumph of Patience, sitting on a carriage, over desire, who is being made to pull the carriage, and over Fortune, who has to follow behind.  Like other educated Elizabethan’s Bess was familiar with symbols and signs worked into decorative schemes, and would have expected her guests to understand the reference.

If her guests knew anything about their host, they would have known that Bess had outlived four husbands and had overcome legal debts, legal challenges and political intrigue.  She was confidently handing over unthinkable wealth and lands to her sons.  Patience had certainly won over life’s many setbacks.

The central panel can be viewed in more detail in this previous post.

Looking Towards Chatsworth

Hazy View

Information from the English Heritage guidebook and visitor information board situated at the hall.

16 Comments CherryPie on Aug 7th 2010

16 Responses to “Hardwick Old Hall – Hill Great Chamber”

  1. Bernard says:

    Oh I do wish they would put a ‘roof’ or cover over these places. Once the water (damp) gets it, and then a frost – the fabric will crumble. So many interesting sites are open to the elements, and if not protected will not be around in years to come for others to see.. :(

  2. Brilliant photos of Hardwick Hall and the writeup is magic… I wish I had had the photos at hand last year when I was doing my research into the hall for my novel. Hopefully English Heritage may be selling it in their shop, but for your information its title is THE HOUSE OF CAVENDISH~OUTROADS isbn 978-1-60860-307-7 by
    Malcolm Brocklehurst

  3. kath says:

    How wonderful. I had heard of Hardwick but knew nothing about it until now. What glorious pannelling.

  4. jameshigham says:

    Why “Hill” great?

    • CherryPie says:

      Bess referred to it as ‘Hill’ because it is sitting on the top of an escarpment. Others referred to it as the ‘Giants Chamber’ because of the two giant plaster figures that are dressed as Roman soldiers. It is not known who they represent but they could be Mars and Hercules.

  5. Marcie says:

    Love the artist’s rendering in juxtaposition to the structure as ‘is’. Very nice description of the place.

  6. liz says:

    She sounds an amazing woman.

  7. Hi Liz and all fans of Bess of Hardwick, (Elizabeth Cavendish) was a most remarkable woman. Do you know that her daughter Elizabeth, married James Stuart of Scotland? They had a daughter named Arbella who had Tudor and Stuart blood in her and she had a legitimate claim to the english throne? That fact terrified the Elibethan court and Bess of Hardwick was in fear of her life for some time. Arbella’s mother died, she may have well have been poisened at Sheffield castle. Arbella died in the Tower on a ‘hunger strike’. The Elizibethan politics are fascinating. You can read all this and about Bess of Hardwick in my new novel THE HOUSE OF CAVENDISH~OUTROADS isbn 978-1-60860-307-7
    Malcolm Brocklehurst

  8. Dan says:

    Has the National Trust considered the idea of restoring and rebuilding the Hardwick Old Hall to its former glory as a hotel? Imagine if the ruins of Hardwick Old Hall were reconstructed back to its former glory as a highend luxury hotel that retains all of its historic charm of the 16th century Aristocracy. It could provide a major source of revenue for Hardwick Hall as a whole. And the ruins does provide a develop and curators an opportunity to make Hardwick Old Hall a unique attraction that is unrivaled anywhere else. And a fully restored and occupied Hardwick Old Hall would allow the guests to experience the sort of hospitality of spending a few days in an old 16th century manor that is not available anywhere else year round. Do you agree?

    • CherryPie says:

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks for dropping by. I don’t know if the National Trust have considered that. Currently the Old Hall is under the care of English Heritage although it belongs to the National Trust.

      It would be a big and expensive job to restore it to its former glory. It might also detract from the atmosphere of the surrounding environment. It would have to have a big car park in addition to the one already there.

      They have recently changed the drive to the halls and the car park area. I visited again on Saturday. I like the new arrangement much better although the new tea shop needs a bit of a rethink as we were queuing outside to wait for a table.

      I take it you think renovating the Old Hall is a good idea?

      • Dan says:

        I think that if Hardwick Old Hall is restored, it could become a place that could be rented out to highend clients, as well as serve as a museum where some of the rooms are opened to the public. Imagine if the Old Hall is able to provide a service that the New Hall can not, which is being able to experience what it was like to sleep and dine inside an old English Manor House. Although the only other option that could work is for Hardwick Old Hall to be restored as a private residence with its contents almost exactly as it was if the Bess of Hardwick had furnished it herself. The National trust could still run the public side of Hardwick Old Hall while the private side could remain exclusive. Any thoughts about this idea?

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