Hardwick Hall

Hardwick Hall, c.1912..
Hardwick Hall, c.1912.

After Teversal church had been thus dealt with, and a somewhat hurried visit paid by some of the members to the neighbouring hall, in which there was little to be met with of antiquarian interest, a start was made for Hardwick Hall through some delightful scenery, and the approach to Hardwick was made by way of the park as being shorter and more interesting than the beaten track. Here the Rev. F. Brodhurst of Heath Vicarage, who is also chaplain at Hardwick, met the party at the outer gates. Thence we proceeded to the ancient dining hall, where Mr. Brodhurst read the following paper.


This hall was commenced to be built in the year 1590, and completed in the year 1597. The accounts and payments of the clerk of the works, Sir Henry Jenkinson, probably a private chaplain and secretary, as the clergy had at that time the title of "Sir" or "Dominus,"—countersigned by the Countess of Shrewsbury each fortnight, are still kept here in the muniment room. Mary Queen of Scots lost her life at Fotheringhay, in the year 1587, so that she cannot have been in this hall, though Horace Walpole in his letters, and other writers make her to have been here. The queen must have been in the old hall if at all.1 Tradition tells us that there was a room in the old hall which went by her name—the Queen of Scots Room—and you will see in a room upstairs, furniture and her coat of arms brought out of the old hall into this building. But there is no written contemporary authority, saying when, and for how long the queen remained here. For fifteen and a half years the queen was under the charge of the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury. The earl had seven houses:


The Countess had two of  her own


The Queen resided at most of these places in turn. When twelve years of age Elizabeth Hardwick, 3rd daughter of Mr. John Hardwick, of Hardvvick, was betrothed to Mr. Robert Barlow, of Barlow, near Chesterfield—his mother was a Chaworth—he was fourteen years of age, and died next year, leaving the greater part of his estate to his young bride. And in his epitaph at Barlow, there was left a vacancy for the name and date of the death of his wife. But it was never filled in, her body was not laid there; she was married three times again, and was buried in All Saints' Church, Derby, where her monument appears.

When twenty-seven years of age, she married, for his third wife, Sir William Cavendish. They were married at Bradgate, co. Leicester, at 2 a.m. Bradgate Park belonged to the Grey family—the Marquis of Dorset, afterwards Duke of Suffolk, father of the Lady Jane Grey, the nine days Queen. Five of that family were god-parents to their children; amongst them the Lady Jane Grey, and her sister Lady Katharine Grey, who was sent to the tower, and died there, for marrying Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, without leave of Queen Elizabeth. At Welbeck there is a pocket-book which belonged to Sir William Cavendish, wherein he has written the names of the god-parents of all the children of his third marriage; and a very interesting list it is. Amongst them being Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, Sir William Paulet, Marquis of Winchester, and Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, which accounts for their portraits being in the hall.

Sir William and Lady Cavendish's married life lasted ten years, from 1547 to 1557—through the reign of Edward VI., and the first years of Queen Mary. Sir William Cavendish died leaving Lady Cavendish, aged thirty-seven, with eight young children. Lady Cavendish presently married a third husband, Sir William St. Loe, of Tormarton, co. of Gloucester, Captain of the Guard to Queen Elizabeth. As Lady St. Loe, she was sent to the Tower for being confidante to the marriage of Lady Catharine Grey to Edward Seymour, and not disclosing it.

In 1568 Lady St. Loe was married to George, sixth Earl of Shrewsbury, who was then accounted the greatest subject of the realm. In 1569 the Queen of Scots was placed in their charge; after a time the Countess became jealous of the Queen, and she separated from her husband. In 1575 her daughter, Elizabeth Cavendish, was married at Rufford, to Charles Stuart, Earl of Lennox, brother to Lord Darnley, the husband of Mary Queen of Scots. Their only child was the Lady Arabella Stuart. If James I., the son of Darnley and Mary the Queen of Scots, had died without issue, then the Lady Arabella was the next heir to the thrones of England and Scotland, and through her the Countess of Shrewsbury, at one time, hoped to be grandmother of the Queen of England, which added to her pride. Through her nearness to the throne, by the action of the Privy Council, the Lady Arabella Stuart was practically a prisoner at Hardwick for some years.

Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded in A.D. 1587. The Earl of Shrewsbury died in 1590, and was buried in Sheffield Parish Church. The Countess survived him seventeen years she died at Hardwick, A.D. 1608, and was buried at All Saints' Church, Derby, aged eighty-seven.

Horace Walpole tells us that the income of the Countess was £60,000 a year, and that in A.D. 1760, her estates were let for £200,000, which in present value is probably over £300,000. And since then the fourth Duke married the heiress of the Boyles the Earl of Burlington and Cork— which brought into the family, Lismore Castle, with—so it has been said—52,000 acres in co. Cork, and 27,000 acres in Tipperary, and Bolton Abbey and Lonesborough, and Chiswick in England; and Compton Place, Eastbourne has come through another heiress. The Dukes of Devonshire have a princely income, and they spend it in a princely manner.

It is the extraordinary contrast from the beginning of her life to its close, that helps to make the life of Elizabeth Hardwick so interesting and surprising. She began life as the third daughter of Mr. John Hardwick, of Old Hardwick Hall. He was a country Squire, of small patrimony, whose family had been settled at Hardwick for six generations. His house was only the middle portion of the Old Hall, the two wings were added by the countess herself. Elizabeth Hardwick ended by marrying the first subject in the land, and at one time her grand-daughter was heir presumptive to the thrones of England and Scotland. The successors of three of her children became dukes—the Duke of Devonshire, the Duke of Newcastle, and the Duke of Kingston, now represented by the Dukes of Devonshire and Portland, and Earl Manvers, and one daughter married the seventh Earl of Shrewsbury, another daughter married the Earl of Lennox; a wonderful close to her opening life.

After reading the above paper, Mr. Brodhurst shewed the visitors' book, which contained recent signatures of the King and Queen and of other guests from Chatsworth. The party then inspected the various rooms, while Mr. Brodhurst acting as guide, drew attention, from time to time, to the many details of antiquarian and historical interest.

(1) The Rev. F. Brodhurst contributed a paper on this subject to the Transactions for 1901