This Elizabethan mansion, birthplace and once home of Bess of Hardwick, is now owned by English Heritage and stands a stones throw from the new. It is sad to see that it is no more than a shell of its former self. However even though it is in ruins it still has appeal and can fascinate visitors old and young alike. There is a fee to enter but if you are a National Trust member access is free. Entry is via the only refurbished part of the hall and this alone gives you an insight into the wealth and lives of the rich and famous and their belongings through information boards. If you so wish you can purchase an audio guide to assist you whilst walking around the hall. Though the hall is roofless you can still ascend four floors to view the absolutely stunning scenery across the land. Take time to carefully look at the stunning decorative plasterwork, there's enough that survives to see the range of designs. One in particular is the plasterwork consisting of two stags in a forest setting, formally Bess of Hardwicks coat of arms. Stroll through the various rooms in particular the kitchen and the great chamber / main hall. Once again you get a feel of how people use to live. All in all an education in itself however from seeing the remains of pigeon droppings and growth of weeds throughout I cannot help but reflect on this stunning Elizabethan property and wonder if more could be done to restore it even further. Unfortunately this attraction is not suitable for those in wheelchairs or difficulty in walking as climbing is required. Enjoy
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