Built 1590-97 - notable at the time for the amount of glass used. A local saying was: "Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall". Built for Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury, known as Bess of Hardwick - and commemorated by the E S at the top of the towers. She was the ancestress of the present Dukes of Devonshire, and the house was occupied by Evelyn, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, until her death in 1960. It had been acquired by the National Trust in 1959. Bess was a lady to to reckoned with! Here's what Wikipedia has to say:
"Elizabeth Cavendish, later Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury (c. 1527 – 13 February 1608), known as Bess of Hardwick (née Elizabeth Hardwick), of Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, was a notable figure of Elizabethan English society. By a series of well-made marriages, she rose to the highest levels of English nobility and became enormously wealthy. Bess was a shrewd business woman, increasing her assets with business interests including mines and glass-making workshops.
She was married four times. Her first husband was Robert Barlow, who died aged about 14 or 15 on 24 December 1544. Her second husband was the courtier Sir William Cavendish. Her third husband was Sir William St Loe. Her last husband was George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, sometime keeper to the captive Mary, Queen of Scots. An accomplished needlewoman, Bess joined her husband's captive charge at Chatsworth House for extended periods in 1569, 1570, and 1571, during which time they worked together on the Oxburgh Hangings.
In 1601, Bess ordered an inventory of the household furnishings, including textiles, at her three properties at Chatsworth, Hardwick, and Chelsea, which survives. In her will she bequeathed these items to her heirs to be preserved in perpetuity. The 400-year-old collection, now known as the Hardwick Hall textiles, is the largest collection of tapestry, embroidery, canvaswork, and other textiles to have been preserved by a single private family. Bess is also well known for her building projects, the most famous of which are Chatsworth, now the seat of the Dukes of Devonshire (whose family name is Cavendish as they descend from the children of her second marriage), and Hardwick Hall."
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