We started our visit by exploring the house. Grotbags was happy to be given a quiz by one of the guides in which she had to answer questions on a sheet regarding animals and birds that can be found within the house, so armed with clipboard she quickly got to work. This activity was really useful in keeping her occupied and the questions were sequenced as you walked around through the various rooms.
This year Hardwick Hall is celebrating the 400th anniversary of the death of Lady Arbella Stuart who was the granddaughter of Bess of Hardwick and niece to Mary Queen of Scots. I was deeply saddened to hear the story of her death at the age of 40, locked in the Tower of London. Such a sad and lonely life for her and this exhibition is well worth visiting.
As you explore the Hall and wander through the many rooms and chambers you are surrounding by intricate tapestries, paintings and carved furniture. The kitchen display was fabulous and you could even attempt to fold napkins in to different shapes with the information sheets provided. You could almost imagine the house as it was years ago due to the descriptions of staff and their history which was available to read.
The gardens around the Hall are split into four courtyards with a orchard, herb and vegetable garden and stunning south border. I could not explore as much as I would have liked due to my back but will be definitely visiting again in the near future.
After walking around we were ready for some refreshments and we visited the Great Barn Restaurant which has ample seating both inside and out, with lots of delicious food available. Local produce is used and myself and my husband enjoyed the daube of beef whilst Grotbags had a child's lunch box which consisted of a ham cob, cake, fruit and apple juice, she was very surprised to see a packet of cress seeds in the bottom and instructions on how to turn her box into a seed tray. There is also a microwave and bottle warming facilities available for young babies and changing facilities.
Grotbags was given a 50 Things To Do Before You're 11 3/4 list and was eager to tick some of the activities off. We enjoyed a gentle walk down Lady Spencer's Wood after our lovely meal and she managed to build a den, make a mud pie, explore inside a tree, hunt for bugs and make a trail with sticks. Nonetheless she still has lots to tick off her list and this will come in useful for the summer holidays.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day at Hardwick Hall and cannot wait to go back to complete the Miller's Walk, Welly Walk, Oak Walk and Sculpture Walk, all of which look fantastic. The park, garden and restaurant are open all year round except for Christmas Day. The Hall is open from the 7th February until 1st November, 12 noon until 4.30pm. Ample car parking is available along with disabled parking.