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National Trust and English Heritage announce new partnership at Hardwick Old Hall

Hardwick Old Hall English Heritage
Hardwick Old Hall | © English Heritage

The National Trust and English Heritage have announced a new partnership agreement which will see Hardwick Old Hall fully open to visitors for the first time in five years after extensive conservation work.

  • Members of both charities are now be able to access the Old and New Halls as part of their membership
  • Hardwick Old Hall is included within the ticket price for paying visitors

The historically significant Hardwick Old Hall is cared for by English Heritage, while the ‘new’ Hall located next door is owned and managed by the National Trust.

Under this new agreement, English Heritage will continue to look after the Old Hall while the National Trust will manage the visitor side.

The new partnership gives members of both charities access to the whole Hardwick estate as part of their membership, and paying visitors will also be able to visit both halls included in their entrance fee.

Matt Dillon, Visitor Operations & Experience Manager at National Trust Hardwick Hall, said: “We are delighted to be working more closely with English Heritage to reopen the Old Hall and provide visitors with easier access across the whole Hardwick estate.

“The two halls are next door to each other and together they tell the story of Bess of Hardwick, one of the richest and most remarkable women of Elizabethan England. Now when people visit, they can seamlessly explore the atmospheric ruins of Bess’ birthplace and her later masterpiece, filled with rich furnishings and tapestries.”

Simon Bean, Head of Historic Properties, English Heritage said: “We are pleased to be able to open Hardwick Old Hall following our extensive £1.3m conservation project to protect the 400-year-old plaster friezes and overall fabric of the building. The new agreement between English Heritage and the National Trust significantly simplifies arrangements for our visitors who are now able to visit both the new and old Halls under one ticket. This is a significant benefit to both paying visitors and valued members of both organisations - enabling them to enjoy both the stately ruins of the birthplace of Bess of Hardwick, as well as marvelling at the masterpiece she built later in life.”

English Heritage recently carried out an extensive conservation project at Hardwick Old Hall to protect the Hall's 400-year-old plaster friezes. Once the finest of their age, and a display of Bess of Hardwick's status and wealth, the Old Hall’s decorative plaster panels, originally part of the interior decor had been exposed to the elements for two centuries, after the Hall was abandoned and became roofless.

Using a range of specialist skills, experts have now managed to stabilise and preserve these original features, which depict beautiful plants and animals as well as allegorical scenes.

On the whole west wall – which faces out across the valley and is more exposed to weather damage – the team have completely reinstated the render on the building. The old render was analysed so that the new mix matches what was there historically and has been traditionally applied.

Hardwick Old Hall is open daily until 5 November 2023 from 11am to 3.30pm (last entry 2.45pm).