Archaeological Recording of the East Loggia at Hardwick Hall
Recent archaeological investigation of the East Loggia has revealed some interesting discoveries, including the names of some of craftsmen who helped build the Hall back in the 16th century.
What is a loggia?
There are two 'loggias' at Hardwick - both spanning the central sections of the west and east elevations of the Hall. The original purpose of these structures was to be multi-functional as they would have provided an elevated means to view the gardens as well as a secluded space for people to take exercise. One historic reference also suggests that the external roof space of the West Loggia was used by musicians to serenade guests whilst meals or events happened inside.
Revealing past mistakes
The archaeological survey, undertaken by Buildings Archaeologist Oliver Jessop, happened during the replacement of the lead on the East Loggia in autumn 2018. The survey has established that a lot of the East Loggia’s oak structure is original to the 1590s house, and it has also revealed some curiosities with its construction, including some mistakes by the original builders of the Hall! Firstly, the timbers are not set at right angles to the main wall of the house like you might expect. This may have happened because the structure was manoeuvred into position once the stone parapet had already been constructed and the carpenters had to improvise to make the loggia fit. Large empty sockets were also noted by Oliver in the corners of each recessed section of masonry hidden within the roof void. Presumably these were originally intended to take massive longitudinal beams along the face of the house however they were never used, again perhaps indicating that the carpentry details of the loggia were adapted as the construction of the Hall progressed.
Leaving their mark...
Whilst writing up his discoveries Oliver also undertook lots of detailed archival research, including examining Hardwick Hall's building accounts. By looking at these documents he managed to find the names of the masons, carpenters and plasterers that worked on the East Loggia in the 1590s, along with details on how long construction took, and how much they were paid.
For instance, the accounts detail that between August and October 1595 payments were made to William Gryffyne, [James] Adames and [?] Leonord, who were all masons, to carve the eight Tuscan columns, and in September 1595 (after the columns had started to be cut) Thomas Benbridg(e) ‘the carpenter’ was contracted for a sum of £10 to ‘frame, rering and board’ the two walks (Loggias) on either side of the house.
Various pieces of graffiti were also recorded during the survey and have been since examined by Hardwick’s Project Curator Lauren Butler. The graffiti, found etched into one of the windows, appears to be from a mix of craftspeople, tourists and staff and dates from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. One of the etched inscriptions reads ‘Richard Dery’, whose name also appears on one of the fireplaces in the Long Gallery. Three generations of the Derry family ran the Hardwick Inn in the 17th & 18th centuries, including a Richard Derry who was the 3rd Earl’s bailiff. Another name - ‘Mary Ludlam, 1776’ – may be the same Mary Ludlam listed in local parish records as having married at Ault Hucknall church in 1777 and it’s interesting to wonder if she perhaps lived and/or worked on the Hardwick estate.
Even the craftsmen working of the loggia in the 1960s have left their mark. Various names and associated dates were recorded just inside the inspection hatch on the roof, and a copy of the Derbyshire Times newspaper (dated 1967) was also secreted under the lead for future workmen to find.
All in all, the work done on the East Loggia has demonstrated the real value of archaeological recording during programmes of repair and conservation, and it is hoped that a similar archaeological survey will also take place during similar forthcoming work on the West Loggia. It would be really interesting if some of the names etched onto the East Loggia window also turned up somewhere on the West Loggia!
A copy of the report by Oliver Jessop can be downloaded by searching Hardwick Hall on the National Trust’s Heritage Records Online website – https://heritagerecords.nationaltrust.org.uk/