Sunday, 8 January 2012

Bolsover Castle and Hardwick Old Hall

Well, we are back in the UK and back in the swing of things for the most part.  I thought we might take the weekend off, but it was reasonably warm (50F or so) with a decent forecast (partly cloudy though I'm not sure who got the partly -- we just got the cloudy) so back on the trail we went.

Note:  I stretched the template a bit and I'm using larger photos.  Let me know if you like it or hate it.

I decided to tap a few English Heritage Trust properties to the north of us (< 1 hr away) today.  First up was Bolsover Castle.   It was interesting to realize that many of the castles/estates to the north of Derby are very much intertwined (Peveril, Bolsover, Chatsworth, Hardwick Hall, etc.).

The castle dates back to the 12th century when it was built by the Peveril family.  It changed hands a few times but ended up with Charles Cavendish (son of Bess of Hardwick) in 1608.  Charles set about rebuilding it and that work was finished by his son William Cavendish.  England was at peace then but it was quite fashionable to have a mean looking castle to impress your friends and all the little people.

Here's a view of a model that may help with the visualization.  We entered the outer courtyard at the top right.  The large stable range is the brown set of buildings on the right.  The Terrance range (expansion wing more or less) is in front and the Little Castle is on the left.

View as you enter the courtyard.  Little Castle is out of view on the right; Terrance Range straight ahead.

Inside the courtyard looking at the Little Castle--"a fantasy house for leisure and lavish entertaining" according to the guidebook.  The Terrance Rooms are to the left.

Troops in front of the large door into the stable rooms.

Inside one of the stable rooms -- nice hat.  William Cavendish was big into horses.  Boys and their toys.

one of the views out over the countryside -- notice the green in January -- quite a contrast to what we saw recently in the eastern US

 former dining room area (Terrance Range side)-- obviously missing a few floors these days

Inside the Entrance Hall of the Terrance Range looking back to the Stable Range.  Big door.

 another room in the Terrance Range.  It was fun to walk around and explore the ruins.

 we had walked down the ground floor to get a different view


 part of the Stable Range

 Alex taking a look down the hill (I like this shot)

Okay, now we are in the inner courtyard called the Fountain Garden.  Interesting.  Too bad the fountains weren't on.  Not sure how much the water would normally cover those lower angry men statues.  Alex thought the little boy anatomy features were later add ons.

entrance to the Little Castle

some of the rooms had dark paintings and woodwork and others were bare --here's an example of both (sorry, couldn't resist)

These were some funky plants out on the grounds.  They looked like cacti from a distance.  Anyone know what they are?

 Little Castle from the other side

As we were walking out, little man was swinging his audio device around and got himself all tangled up.

Cool tree.  Spooky without the leaves.

Next, we headed down the road to Hardwick Old Hall.  There's a "new" hall next door, but it was closed.  I knew that and will save it for another day.  It should have taken about 15 minutes to get there from Bolsover but our Sat Nav (GPS) lead us down some secondary road that had a gate and then the chief navigator lead us astray so it took 30-40 minutes instead.  All was calm (we are experienced at getting lost now).

Bess of Hardwick (wiki link) was a rich and strongly connected women.  She married 4 times, amassing more fortune with each husband's death, and was thought to be the second richest women (next to the Queen) in the country.  Her second marriage was to William Cavendish and they had 8 children.  First son William became Duke of Devonshire (lived in Chatsworth).  Grandson William (from son Charles) because Duke of Newcastle (lived in Bolsover Castle).  She was chiefly involved in the designs of both Hardwick Halls.

Required Jay Seppanen Steve Frey domesticated animal shot as we were pulling up to the Hardwick Hall grounds.  (Catch Jay's blog if you want another view of ex-pat life in the UK).

 Hmm.  Doesn't look open to me . . . Too much trouble to take down the sign, eh?  I found this humorous for some reason.

 We passed by the closed, Hardwick (new) Hall enroute to the old one.  As you can see, New is relative.

 cloudy, countryside view

View of the Old Hall.  It's a little more ruined than the new one.  Some of its bits were sold off after they moved out.

Four stories with a relatively contemporary design.  She liked her windows and glass too.

All the big to-dos were on the top floor

 some of the plaster/masonry remains

full view of the height

 scary in many ways

 I enjoyed this partially ruined state

Despite the decrepit state of the previous photos, there were some sound stairs that led us to the top where we were rewarded with a nice view of Harwick [new] Hall.  I guess the old one just wasn't big enough.

 and now to cap things off, we stopped at the Hardwick Inn for some refreshments before heading back

Couple of half pints to sample between us.  Bess of Hardwick Best Bitter on the left; Theakston Old Peculiar on the right.  I couldn't find anything on the first and I suspect it might be made by Blacksheep.  Fairly typical.  Slightly better flavor but just a little too hoppy (neither of us like the hopped up beers like IPA, etc.).  I've been noting/complaining about a lack of variety in the beers here and the Old Peculiar was actually different.  It was complex and well, peculiar.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it.  Good effort, but not quite there.

I purchased this one in the Bolsover Castle gift shop (alcohol in the gift shop, can't beat that).  I've always wanted to go Wassailing among the leaves so green . . . . I'll have to report back on how it tastes.  Not sure it's my thing but I wanted to try it.  Too bad it didn't say A Full Bodied Beer with underlying Happiness.  Always looking for some of that (it says hoppiness for those that can't make it out).  Happiness in a bottle is probably more than £3.

Here's the first verse of the Wassailing Carol for those interested.  It's actually a New Year's song so somewhat appropriate.  We have a version on our Scottish Christmas DVD that we always listen to (except this year -- oops).

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wand'ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

Not sure why the travel blog has turned into the Food Channel, but I did spend some time cooking each night this weekend so I thought I'd share even if the photography isn't that great.  This is a UK version of Beef Stroganoff.  Picked up some Scottish rump steak at the store and it was good.  It used creme fraiche which apparently is a French sour cream (more fat, less sour).  It used French brandy too, so maybe it wasn't UK, but French.

In continuing my roast adventures, I did a chicken roast stuffed with garlic, lemon and thyme.  Also yummy.  A few too many potatoes, but I might as well cook up all of them.  Notice that they leave most of the feet on the drumsticks -- takes getting used to.

Side note:  spent 10 minutes (and 2 trips) looking for corn meal in the store.  Had to Google it to find out it's called polenta here.  Polenta back home implies the cooked stuff I believe (or at least in my mind).  One of those things that's quite irritating at the time. 

Related side note:  cornstarch is corn flour here.

Not so related side note:  many of the vegetables are different as well (zucchini=courgette, eggplant=aubergine, cilantro=coriander, arugula=rocket, rutabaga/turnip=swede).  Most times it's obvious but others it's not. 

No Nicole meal-of-the week this time.  I gave her the week off on this short week.  She'll be back next time.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Nice pics Steve - that place look huge. Bigger than Chatsworth? Thanks for the mention on your animal pic - any coincidence that you mentioned me on the pic showing its hind end? ;) Love the bare painted woodwork photo.

  2. I also like the pics. I'm always up for more castle pics. It's interesting how there were some plaster remnants.
    That chicken looks awesome. We're 5 minutes away... ;) I showed this to Yuka, but she said she'd have to taste it before making it...
    Also liking the wider layout with bigger pics.

  3. Jay -- pure coincidence on the back side of the cow. :)

    Can't speak for Hardwick [New] Hall since it was closed, but Chatsworth is probably bigger than Bolsover and the Old Hall. Hard to compare finished to ruins though.

    Tanner -- glad you liked it. Got the wider look from your blog. Thanks.

  4. I forgot to say thumbs up on the layout and pics.