Hardwick Old Hall is located close to Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire.
The hall was built between 1587 and 1596 by Bess of Hardwick. She was one of the richest and well known women of the Elizabethan age. The mansion used all the latest Italian innovations in house design.
Bess was married four times, but left her last husbandin 1584, after the relationship became violent. She fled Chatsworth and came back to Hardwick. As she was now a countessshe wanted a grand hall, rather than the family manor house. She built the Old Hall in its place.
Before she had finished the Old Hall, she started building the New Hall. Both buildings were intended to complement each other.
Bess died in 1608, leaving her son William Cavendish, Hardwick. The dukes prefered Chatsworth and partly dismantled the old hall in the 1750's.
The Hardwick estate was eventually transferred to the National Trust in 1959, and the Ministry of Works took on the Old Hall. The smoke-blackened stonework was cleaned in the mid 1980s. A timber viewing platform was built in the Hill Great Chamber, making it possible to see the plasterwork.