Tudor Architecture - Hardwick Hall
The first Renaissance style architecture in Tudor England was Hampton Court. Hardwick Hall was built by the Countess of Shrewsbury, known as Bess of Hardwick (1521 - 1607). The style of Hardwick Hall had shifted from the pointed, ornate Gothic style to the plainer Renaissance style which was symmetrical. The symmetrical lines was displayed in both the architecture of Hardwick Hall and the gardens. The emphasis was placed on a horizontal rather than vertical line. Classical Greek and Roman architecture was admired by the Tudors and sometimes great columns framed the entrances of many great Tudor houses. One of the most impressive houses built during the Tudor period, which made use of such classical styled columns, was was the magnificent Hardwick Hall.
Tudor Architecture - Architect of Hardwick Hall - Robert Smythson
Hardwick Hall is situated on a hill top between Chesterfield and Mansfield in the Derbyshire countryside. The architect of Hardwick Hall was Robert Smythson (1535 – 1614), who also designed Burghley House. Robert Smythson started his career as a stonemason and rose to become a designer and surveyor - names given to Tudor Architects.
Tudor Architecture - Design and Layout of Hardwick Hall
Hardwick Hall was built between 1591 - 1597. Hardwick Hall had a special layout. Many great houses were based on a design shaped like a letter 'E' in honor of Queen Elizabeth. Not so Hardwick Hall - this had the layout of a cross representing the Catholic leanings of Bess. Her initials 'ES' are prominent and have been carved on much of the stonework on the walls. Hardwick Hall has six great towers and massive windows. Bess designed the Long Gallery which runs for 50 metres along the east front of the house. Hardwick Hall also has a grand stone grand staircase and the High Great Chamber was reputed to be the most beautiful room in Europe and decorated with beautiful tapestries.
Tudor Architecture - The Windows of Hardwick Hall
Glass in the Tudor period was an expensive material but its usage in the building of Hardwick Hall produced a spectacular effect on its vast array of windows. Some of the windows appear to illuminate just one room but they are cleverly constructed to light two rooms on two storeys. There are also some false windows which concealing chimneys. The use of so much glass made the interior of Hardwick Hall lighter and airier. To make a pane of glass was a time consuming and painstaking process. A blob of glass was blown into a cylinder shaped bubble which was placed on a cooling table and cut in half. A small piece of glass was thus produced. The small pieces of glass for the windows were joined together with lead.
Tudor Architecture - Hardwick Hall owned by Bess of Hardwick
Bess of Hardwick started her life as a relatively poor woman. She married four times and was the second most powerful woman in England, next to Queen Elizabeth I. Hardwicke Hall was truly magnificent, four storeys tall with prolific plaster work. One of its major features was many glass windows. The windows created such a wonderful sight that they were immortalised in an old rhyme:
'Hardwick Hall - more glass than wall'
Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Shrewsbury, moved into Hardwick Hall in October 1597.
Tudor Architecture - Hardwick Hall and Lady Arabella Stuart
The granddaughter of Bess of Hardwick was Lady Arabella Stuart. She was kept in Hardwick Hall as the virtual prisoner of her ambitious grandmother. Lady Arabella Stuart was groomed by Bess as a future Queen of England. Arabella married William Seymour and the two lines of descendants of both sisters of Henry VIII were united. Both Arabella and William were claimants to the throne. Arabella hated her grandmother and her political schemes. Lady Arabella Stuart was sent to the Tower of London because she was a threat to the existing monarchy where she died in 1615
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