Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Elizabethan Music/ Hardwick Hall Tour

Some beautiful Elizabethan music set against one of the great houses of that era, Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, England.

From Wikipedia:

"Hardwick is a conspicuous statement of the wealth and power of Bess of Hardwick, who was the richest woman in England after Queen Elizabeth I herself. It was one of the first English houses where the great hall was built on an axis through the centre of the house rather than at right angles to the entrance. Each of the three main storeys is higher than the one below, and a grand, winding, stone staircase leads up to a suite of state rooms on the second floor, which includes one of the largest long galleries in any English house and a little-altered, tapestry-hung great chamber with a spectacular plaster frieze of hunting scenes. The windows are exceptionally large and numerous for the 16th century and were a powerful statement of wealth at a time when glass was a luxury, leading to the saying, "Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall" (or, in another version, "more window than wall").[1] There is a large amount of fine tapestry and furniture from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A remarkable feature of the house is that much of the present furniture and other contents are listed in an inventory dating from 1601.
Hardwick Hall contains a large collection of embroideries, mostly dating from the late 16th century, many of which are listed in the 1601 inventory. Some of the needlework on display in the house incorporates Bess's monogram "ES", and may have been worked on by Bess herself."

The music is by John Dowland, an English composer (1563-1626)


  1. Beautiful music - I really enjoyed it - and a tour of Hardwick Hall thrown in. Thanks Doug.

  2. Ah, the wonderful Hardwick Hall with its lovely views over the Peak District. The square towers give the house a solid look. They certainly wanted to show off their wealth by the use of glass.

    The ruin of the old hall wouldn't have gone amiss in an old horror film.

    Thank you for sharing the video, Doug.

  3. Elizabethan music is certainly easy on the ear and wonderful t relax to. It brings to mind courtly affairs of a gentler age if you kept your head down.:-/

  4. I'm glad you liked this little "tour" Iri Ani. It's always fun to find some great visuals on a video site that go really well with the music you want to share. I hit the jackpot this time I believe!

    Thanks as always for stopping by.

  5. It really is a step back in time isn't it, Cassandra? Most people's lives were rough back then, of course, but I can't help feeling a serenity hearing music like this and seeing this amazing architectural style---it must have looked so modern as well as opulent to Bess of Hardwick's visitors back then. The ornamental furnishings still look great though I guess the tapestries have faded.

    Haha! Yes, I'm sure a horror producer of the old Hammer school would have loved to get inside that place. The place is ripe for ghosts and unexplained sounds!

    A day visit would be a thrill. But I'm not staying the night all alone unless the National Trust gets me a sure-fire matchlock pistol, a flashlight and a phone line to the constabulary. ;-)

    You're most welcome.

  6. Yes, it is relaxing. But it was a time when those both high and low in the strata of Elizabethan society had to be careful what one sang about, wrote down or printed up on certain topics of concern to The Crown.

    The Tower of London could get rather busy with long-term "guests"' like Mistress Trockmorton, a lady-in-waiting to Her Highness who forgot to ask the Queen if she could marry and went ahead and do so. Whoops! And then the literal losing of one's head...almost as bad as modern Texas. ;-)

  7. Beautiful, Doug, the house and the music.

  8. Yes, it must have been one of those houses where it paid a person to be seen as a guest.

    I believe they have teams set up to maintain those tapestries and it is a life times work, atishoo!

    The ruins of the old hall are in the grounds and it must look wonderful on a moonlit night.

  9. Indeed, that's why it was best to keep ones head down. The was a lot of intrigue in court circles.

    From what I gather, as long as there wasn't any danger of losing your head, life in the Tower came with a few comforts befitting your station in life.

    Super map you have as your background, Doug.

  10. That's for sure. I know the Quen herself used to make "progreses" in the Summertime to visit her wealthy cousins and their great houses withj all her retinue. I'll bet she and her "posse" could have eaten some poor minor noble out of house and home. Good thing Elizabeth of Hardwicke wasn'tr pressed for cash!

    I'll bet restoration of thoe tapestries makes for challenging work---and is bad for allergies. *sniffle*

    Yes, moonlight hiting all those glass windows...must be a site indeed!

  11. Yes, court life was a challenge, that's for sure. Even more so in earlier Tudor times.

    Yes, I beleive I've read that you could live comfortably there with the right connections and such. Shakespeare's patron, the Earl of Southampton, did all right. He might have lost his head but his mother begged the queen to spare him after the Essex Rebellion and he got out none the worse for wear by the time King James showed up to pardon everybody.

    Glad you like the map Cassandra. It was done in 1964 as a supplement in National Geographic magazine. A friend of mine was nice enough to give me all the "double copies" of maps he had when he was cleaning out his library. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to get a copy of this wonderful artwork off the Internet somewhere and share it.

  12. Hardwick Hall is quite some 'pile' Doug. It is less than 100 miles from where I live but I've never been there.

    When I see buildings like this I rarely think about the people who originally owned and lived in them, but rather the people who designed and constructed them. Hardwick Hall is a monument to the artisans and craftsmen/women who have created all these various works that they contain after building the shell and fitting it out with all those objects.

    People like Bess of Hardwick and the various aristocrats and royals actually produced very little (although in Bess's case I think needlecraft was her particular forte) but as a general rule of thumb, no credit goes to the owners of these places in my book.

    All they did was produce the funding which was usually based on a history of theft, murder and strategically contrived marriages going back to the immediate aftermath of the Norman Conquest.

    Places like Hardwick Hall and also the great houses, cathedrals and castles that went before them are the product of the working class and it is their skills and ingenuity that such edifices represent rather than the socially useless postures of the original owners, speaking of which I believe our current monarch is descended from Bess of Hardwick as a matter of fact.

    The music is pleasant too Doug, thanks for posting it.

  13. There's quite a few intersting sites I have not taken within myself with in, say, a two-hour drive, AA.

    I agree that what draws us to view these houses and estates should not supercede whatever it is that gave these families the means to commission them. Most of these owners were likely not great artists, and some of them were ruthless, or descended from same. But the fact that these great houses exist at all is reason enough for their preservation. And all the better that we think of the artisans who created these monuments to a past culture.

    I've been to Hearst "Castle" at San Simeon, a magnificent collection of buildings in central coastal California, one that includes a Spanish Renaissance cathedral shipped over in pieces from Spain!

    Seeing the expanse of W.R. Hearst's "ranch" draws insight into what drove William Randolph Hearst to have the ego to impact American media and politics.

    It was not in my mind a good impact in almost all ways, but, as you intimate, the work of restoration workers and the original work by archiect Julia Morgan in designing the place from all the immense fortune WR Hearst spent on it is something to behold.

    Many great houses that are now tourist venues in the USA were built by ruthless monopoly types like JD Rockefeller, Commodore Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, etc. These men had skeletons galore in their family closets as perhaps old Bess of Hardwick did.

    I know Carnegie did donate a lot of his fortune to create public libraries all over the United States. Of course, he did most of this in the time before the income tax came in 1913. Carnegie's Steelworks in Pittsburgh was also the site were the infamous Homestead Steel Strike of 1892 occured. Carnegie's plant manager Henry Frick sent in Pinkerton private cops to break up the strike that was taking place there. A great battle ensued. Many workers died and some Pinkertons were beaten badly. That could have been prevented if Carnegie had been more lenient. So put that in with his libraries and such to get the balance of the man.

    And there was excessive violence at work places owned by Rockefeller and Ford as well. This cannot and should not be ignored, but learned along with all the battles of formal war in schools. Robber baron philantrophy often was a cover for rich men to get public appreciation after a labor-crushing crime against workers or as a salve against public anger over ruthless control of politics and economics by their influences.

    It's good to know and consider seriously the whole story about these people when we visit the edifices they leave behind. And all the better that many of these monuments to private wealth are now available for public access.

    Thanks for adding new dimensions to this little viewing of Hardwick Hall, AA.