Guide to Hardwick Hall
A towering manor house in the heart of Derbyshire, the perfectly manicured manse and gardens of Hardwick Hall inspired the digital creation of Manor Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series. However, this historic house stands for so much more. Hardwick Hall offers an in-depth look into the legacy of one of the most misunderstood women in English history.
Learn more about the life of Bess of Shrewsbury, a formidable woman who establish herself as an authority during a period where the only woman to have power was the Queen Elizabeth herself.
Hardwick Hall Harry Potter Connection
Filmmakers used Hardwick Hall as inspiration to digitally create the Malfoy Manor that appears in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Standing in the gardens looking through the hedges, with the imposing tower-like presence of Hardwick Hall, you’ll feel just like you’re staring up at the ancestral family home of the Malfoys.
In the books, Malfoy Manor is said to be in Wiltshire, England, which is a 3 hour drive south of the Derbyshire mansion that is Hardwick Hall.
History of Hardwick Hall
Built towards the end of Elizabeth I’s reign by another formidable Bess, Hardwick Hall stands tall in the heart of Derbyshire. Elizabeth, Duchess of Shrewsbury, carved her initials at the top of the house to leave no doubts as to whose legacy the house stood for.
Elizabeth, more commonly known as Bess, worked her way up from moderate wealth to being the second wealthiest woman in the country, marrying four times and building up her worth through real estate and establishing herself as a force in a time when women had very little rights or wealth of their own.
Her final marriage to George Shrewsbury, originally based on love, fell apart towards the end of her husband’s life when it’s believed he fell ill to a form of dementia that caused distrust of people. He turned Bess out of their house at nearby Chatsworth. She once again took up residence at Old Hall on the familial estate at Hardwick. There she began the building project that would create one of the most magnificent manors in the UK.
What to See at Hardwick Hall
Hardwick Old Hall
Now in ruins, the Old Hall at Hardwick saw the Bess’ birth in 1527. Bess was born into a family of moderate wealth as daughter of a country squire. However, when her father died a year after her birth, the Crown seized the property until her brother, James, came of age.
Though Bess lived here for a time after George Shrewsbury turned her out, the house soon fell into disrepair after her death when her ancestors took up Hardwick Hall. The disrepair only deepened after the family came to prefer Chatsworth over Hardwick and in the 1750s partially dismantled the Old Hall and planted trees in parts of the open interiors.
You can walk among the ground floor of the Old Hall ruins, which sit right next to the grand Hardwick Hall.
Bess designed Hardwick Hall to showcase her legacy. By carving her initials into the top of each of the towers, she only made that point even more clear. The large windows of glass, one of the most expensive building materials in the Elizabethan era, shone pointedly as a statement of the wealth that Bess accumulated over the years.
That majesty only continues inside. No expense was spared to build, decorate and furnish the interior of the house. Tapestries cover the walls and guide you from the Great Hall up through the many other rooms in the house. The high-ceiling staterooms, covered in colored tapestries and ornately carved marble, seem fit for a queen. In fact, the rooms were designed knowing that Bess’ granddaughter, Arbella Stuart had an equal claim to be the next sovereign of England after Elizabeth I as her eventual successor, James.
Not only do you get a view into the wealth and majesty of Bess and her descendents’ lives by visiting the family rooms in the upper floors, but can also peek behind the curtain of the running of an elaborate estate by visiting the kitchens and bakery downstairs.
Hardwick Hall Gardens
To the right of the manor, you’ll find an expanse of carefully manicured hedges, trees and flowers that make up Hardwick Hall Gardens. The garden’s design features four courts, each with their own feel and flavor. The West Court, which you come to first when entering the gardens, featured a mixture of rare plants and flowers.
The South Court matches the elaborate state of the Hardwick Hall manor. Featuring orchards, herbs, roses and other flowers, the South Court’s gardens are carved by perfectly shaped hedges. Standing at the center of the southern end of this court, you’ll feel as though you stepped from Hardwick Hall into Malfoy Manor from the Harry Potter films.
The East Court’s design features the unique wineglass structure that provides one of the best views of the Hardwick Hall House. Meanwhile, the North Court, formerly known as the North Orchard though no evidence exists of there ever having been fruit trees there, stretches out as a sprawling field for sheep and cows to roam in.
Walks Around Hardwick Hall
Situated in the heart of Derbyshire and the Peak District, Hardwick Hall Estate looks out over the sprawling countryside with beautiful nature walks throughout its grounds. Four trails traverse across the fields and woodlands surrounding Hardwick Hall:
- Miller’s Walk: 1.5 mile long walk that loops around the Miller’s Pond.
- Welly Walk: 2.5 mile long walk that circles up to the Old Hall, Hardwick Hall and Rowthorne Gate showcasing beautiful views over the countryside.
- Oak Walk: 3.5 mile long walk snakes through Lady Spencer’s Wood to give the best views of Hardwick Hall and the historic Wineglass. Some of the trees along this trail date back hundreds of years.
- Sculpture Walk: 2.5 mile long walk that showcases sculptures made of natural materials found in the Hardwick Estate. Richard Janes is the artist behind this work.
Hardwick Hall Secondhand Bookshop
You wouldn’t expect it, but a secondhand bookshop can be found in the stables of Hardwick Hall. Books range across all genres, including children’s, fiction, non-fiction and more. It’s a cozy little space, with a woodburner at the center of the room. A convenient little spot to pick up a nice read for the gardens or to read on a break from one of the many walks around Hardwick Hall, supports of the National Trust have donated the books and all proceeds go to keeping the estate running.
Info to Know Before Visiting Hardwick Hall
Hardwick Hall Opening Times
The main house is open Wednesday to Sunday each week from 11:00am to 5:00pm. All other areas of the estate are open daily, with the Hardwick Hall Gardens open from 9:00am to 6:00pm each day.
Closings may occur due to special events so be sure to check the opening times on the website before visiting.
Hardwick Hall Prices
Ticket prices vary depending on which attractions at Hardwick Hall you would like to visit:
- Gardens Only: Adult £7.50; Child £3.50
- Hardwick Hall and Gardens: Adult: £15.00 Child: £7.50
- Hardwick Hall, Old Hall and Gardens: Adult: £21.80 Child: £11.60
How to Get to Hardwick Hall
How to get to Hardwick Hall by Car
The easiest way to get to Hardwick Hall is by driving. The estate sits just off the M1. You can find parking right outside the entrance to the estate for a fee of £5.
Common driving times to Hardwick Hall include:
- Chesterfield: 20 minutes
- Sheffield: 40 minutes
- Nottingham: 40 minutes
- Leicester: 1 hour
- Leeds: 1 hour, 3 minutes
- York: 1 hour, 30 minutes via the A1
How to get to Hardwick Hall by Public Transport
From Chesterfield train station, you can take the Pronto bus to get to Hardwick Hall. You’ll get off the bus at Glapwell near the Young Vanish Inn. From there, it’s a 40 minute walk through the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to the Hardwick Hall estate.
For more information, visit the Pronto Bus website.
Facilities at Hardwick Hall
You can find two places within the grounds at Hardwick Hall to get food onsite. The Coach House Kiosk, a mini cafe, provides light snacks and drinks. The Great Barn Restaurant provides heartier options including pies, baked potatoes, sandwiches and salads.
Free WiFi is available within the Great Barn Restaurant.
Toilets can be found in the stable area, as well as towards the exit of Hardwick Hall.