Things to see and do
Climb the stone steps of the Old Hall ruins and you will be rewarded with a close up view of some remarkable Elizabethan plaster friezes.
Take our free audio guide to learn more about this very unusual and extensive set of freizes, as well as other surviving parts of the hall.
One of the stars of the show is a stunning hunting scene in the Forest Great Chamber, which would have been painted in glorious colours.
Bess of Hardwick
Explore the extraordinary world of the intriguing character, Bess of Hardwick, through her houses and in our exhibition.
Married four times, each time to a wealthier and more influential man, she had eight children, and a life worthy of a Hollywood block-buster.
She acquired wealth, power and influence at a time when this was unusual for a woman, and became an intimate friend of the Queen of England. Read more in Bess of Hardwick available in our online shop.
Discover more about Bess of Hardwick's fascinating life and her importance in Elizabethan history, in our exhibitions in the West Lodge.
The ground floor exhibition is all about Bess as well as the plasterwork and the decoration which would have been found in the Old Hall. It describes Bess' adventures in architecture, and how she transformed her birthplace from a medieval manor house into a luxurious Elizabethan mansion.
A second exhibition on the first floor explores the change of taste in architecture and building methods during the Elizabethan age.
Due to her proficiency at commissioning buildings (unusual for an Elizabethan woman) and her many marriages, there are several buildings in the area connected with Bess and Hardwick Old Hall.
- Hardwick New Hall (National Trust) which Bess had built after the Old Hall, and was completed in 1599.
- Chatsworth House, which she built with her second husband Sir William Cavendish and is still privately owned by their descendants.
- Bolsover Castle (English Heritage) which you might be able to see from the top of Hardwick Old Hall. Bolsover was owned by Bess's son Sir Charles Cavendish and then her grandson Sir William Cavendish.
- Wingfield Manor (English Heritage) which she owned with her fourth husband the Earl of Shrewsbury.
Plan your visit to Hardwick Old Hall today.