Adventures with the National Trust #1 – Hardwick Hall

As I may have mentioned in a couple of previous posts, I have a bit of an addiction to Chatsworth House.  I love it!  It has been the scene of many a family adventure.  I do believe there was one point where you could find us there nearly every weekend.

It occurred to me recently, however, that I do live in a region of England that is surrounded by a multitude of different stately homes/places of interest and I really should stop being so blinkered and give a few of them a shot.  To this end, we decided to head out to Hardwick Hall to see what it had to offer.

We started out with a lovely lunch at The Hardwick Inn, which I would highly recommend if you need somewhere to go for some seriously tasty pub grub.  Then we drove up to the main gate of Harwick Hall.

Parking cost £3 and as we were paying the chap in the little booth handed us a leaflet detailing how to become a member of the National Trust.  By the time we had parked and arrived at the visitor centre, the snap decision had been made to pay up and sign up.  The plan is to try and visit as many of the beautiful properties in the Handbook as we can in this calendar year and, because it gives me something to write about, I am going to try and blog about each of our adventures.

Unfortunately on the day we decided to visit Hardwick, the main house was closed due to the off-season.  However, this does give us a good excuse to go back again and take advantage of our members’ free entry!  There was still plenty to look at though, so we weren’t too disappointed.

The Old House ruins

Hardwick Hall boasts not one, but two houses to visit.  One of them, the Old House, is a  ruin now, but it’s still a great place to explore.  You can walk through the kitchens and stand in the middle of what used to be the great hall.  It’s  fascinating and I would like to go back one day without the little ones so that I can go up, up, up and stand explore the upper levels.

The remnants of a stone fireplace from the Old House kitchens

 

I’m ashamed to say that one of the highlights of the day for me was the Old House gift shop.  It had some really quirky little souvenirs, including some beautiful tapestries that I wish I could have bought (but they were a little on the pricy side).  I did pick up an incredibly cute tapestry bunny bag and a bookmark.  As usual, my shopaholic tendencies took over, but I do love my little treasures.

My Hardwick Hall loot

We tried to walk around the gardens but it was a bit cold and the kids started getting restless so we decided to call it a day.  But we do have definite plans to go back for a more in-depth exploration.

And we’re really looking forward to getting the most out of our membership.  We’ve started writing a bucket list of all the places we’d like to visit.  I’m ashamed (secretly proud) to admit that I have even created a spreadsheet, detailing distance and facilities at each property.  I may need some kind of psychiatric help.

Keep an eye out to see where we go for our next adventure

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