One of our favourite places to go locally is Hardwick Hall, a National Trust property near Chesterfield in the north of Derbyshire. It’s fabulous for a family day out. Here’s why we love it.
If you’re not already in the National Trust, I whole heartedly recommend joining. There are some really lovely National Trust places in Derbyshire – and you can use your card all over the country. It also means that you can just pop to places for a few hours without feeling like you need to ‘get your money’s worth’ from paying for a full day’s entry somewhere. Today for instance we had a lovely few hours wandering round and then left just before it started to rain.
The history of Hardwick Hall
Hardwick Hall is an Elizabethan country house created by Bess of Hardwick in the 1500s. Bess was a fascinating figure. Coming from relatively humble beginnings she rose to being one of the most powerful women in Elizabethan Britain. The house itself is famous for its windows, which were considered ground breaking architecture at the time.
Hardwick on film
Hardwick has been used to film various television series and films. Most recently it has featured in the 2019 Mary Queen of Scots movie, starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. In the film Hardwick was used as external shots of Hampton Court Palace, including a notable scene on the roof. If you’ve got a good head for heights and fancy seeing Hardwick from a new perspective, Hardwick has recently re-launched roof tours.
You might also be interested in 6 Pretty Places in Derbyshire for Jane Austen Fans.
Hardwick Hall also provided the inspiration for Malfoy Mansion in the Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (2010). Exterior scenes were filmed at Hardwick and enhanced with CGI.
What we love about Hardwick
I have been coming to Hardwick my whole life, but since moving to Chesterfield and having my own family, it’s been lovely bringing my daughter through the seasons. I haven’t yet taken her inside the Hall – there is more than enough to explore outdoors.
In addition to the formal gardens the stable yard area is a lovely big space with lots of room to run around, safely away from traffic. I also really love the natural play areas. Previously there’s been den making props. Today there were lots of building blocks, skittles etc.
Today there was a free activity sheet for children with a list of things to look for. There were free pencils and stickers and this proved an engaging activity for the children in our party (ranging from three to five years old). There have been similar, seasonal activities throughout the year. Sometimes these activities carry a small charge (e.g. the Easter trail which then wins the child a chocolate egg).
There are numerous places to picnic in and around Hardwick. There are lots of picnic benches dotted about in The Stableyard area near the café and the toilet block. It’s a great choice when the weather is less than ideal as there’s also some sheltered seating (whether that’s shelter from the rain or sun!).
A great family day out in Derbyshire, on the edge of the Peak District national park, easily accessible from Junction 29 of the M1.
Hardwick Hall, Doe Lea, Chesterfield, S44 5QJ
Very easily accessible from Junction 29 of the M1. Twenty minute drive from Chesterfield. Well signposted with brown signs. Ample free parking.
FREE for National Trust members, otherwise an adult ticket is £16, child £8. No advance booking required.
Café. Shop. Plant sale. New toilet block (all in the stable yard area near the entrance).
Dogs on leads are welcome in the stable yard area including shop, restaurant (Reynolds Room) and toilets, and the wider estate. Assistance dogs only in the formal gardens.
Where to go afterwards: The Hardwick Inn is a traditional country pub located at the exit of the Hardwick Estate (drive out of the park and there’s a big car park just after the pub).
Also check out my guide to the best things to do in Chesterfield with kids. If you’re staying in Chesterfield, Bottle and Thyme in the town centre and The Tickled Trout in a pretty village just outside Chesterfield are some of my all-time favourite places to eat. With family, check out Dunston Hall Bistro e.g. for breakfast before heading to Hardwick.