During the summer two of my good friends from university came to visit and, since we were all Archaeology and Heritage students, we decided to take in some of the historical sights of Derbyshire. I took them on a special tour of Hardwick Hall, and we visited Hardwick Old Hall and nearby Bolsover Castle too.
All of these places I am more than familiar with, my re-enactment group was based at Bolsover for many years, and I have also been lucky enough to camp at the Old Hall with my group before. It was really nice to share these special places with people who are also really special to me!
It was more than a little blowy when we visited the Old Hall, but we made it to the top, for a lovely view of the New Hall. Bess was born at the Old Hall, and spent some time building upon it before starting the New Hall. The Old Hall was then used as guest rooms in conjunction with the New Hall before left by the family to become a romantic ruin that could be seen from the New Hall, so now what remains are the walls and some wonderful plaster work decoration and over-mantles.
There are lovely little drawings on the interpretation boards around the Hall, that give you a picture of how they believed the place might have looked. These were drawn with information from Bess’ 1601 inventory, so some of the items of furniture in the drawings I recognized from the rooms in the New Hall. Sometimes i find it really nice to have buildings like this, an almost blank canvas to imagine what happened in the past on to it.
The next day the weather was a bit improved and we went to visit Bolsover Castle, a place that holds years of very fond memories for me. From when I started re-enacting at 11 years old, up until a few years ago my group was based at Bolsover Castle. We did a couple of shows a year there, camping over in the castle grounds. I spent so many hours running around, playing there, and sitting laughing round the camp fire. There have been a few changes, and with a few more planned for the future, I don’t think I’ll ever get bored with going back.
The ‘Little Castle’ currently stands empty, meaning I have spent an awful lot of time wandering around deciding what I was going to use each room for when I moved in. I quite like the fact that it is empty as it give you more space to appreciate the rooms themselves. The decor inside is stunning; painted walls and ceilings and lovely fireplaces made from different stones. The gardens are lovely too, and the weather was so nice we had a picnic in the Venus Gardens, by the fountain.
For fans of ruins, the suite of buildings next to the riding stables that were built for the King Charles I’s visit are now ruined, but give a picture of the grand celebration that would have been put on in his honour. The riding stables, once home to our knights training, now have displays of Dressage as was practiced by William Cavendish.
I am so lucky to have grown up with these places, and to live and work in the midst of them now. I really enjoyed sharing them with my friends, and now with you too!