Hardwick Hall is one of those places that look deceptively unchanged. In a previous post I referred to the building of the house by Bess of Hardwick in the late sixteenth century. In fact, a huge amount of change took place there subsequently, particularly during the time of William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire (1790-1858).
The ‘Bachelor Duke’, as he was known, inherited the title and the huge Cavendish estates in 1811, at the age of 21. He was spoilt and extravagant, but also lively and loveable, and he greatly enjoyed entertaining, in spite of his increasing deafness.
The Bachelor Duke combined an abiding interest in the past with a Regency love of splendour. At Hardwick he restored the fabric and the interiors of the house, but he didn’t hesitate to move things around and add furnishings from some of his other properties.
He greatly increased the number of paintings hung on the tapestries in the Long Gallery, for instance, effectively making it into an art gallery. He also added the tester and head of a 1697 state bed brought from Chatsworth halfway down the Gallery, in a romantic recreation of the state canopies of Bess of Hardwick’s day.
The early eighteenth-century green velvet bed at Hardwick was brought by the Bachelor Duke from Londesborough Hall in Yorkshire, which the Cavendishes had inherited from the Earl of Burlington in 1753. The cut velvet bed in another room, by Thomas Hardy and dating from about 1740, came from Chatsworth.
The Bachelor Duke was also responsible for adding more tapestries to the walls of Hardwick, using it almost like wallpaper. It appealed to his romantic eye, as well as providing some protection against the perishingly cold Derbyshire winters.