Like many other historic properties and eye-catching buildings in north east Derbyshire, on the edge of the world famous Peak District, they are all linked to one family - the Smythsons, who have been described as 'an architectural dynasty', spanning three generations.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of death of Robert Smythson, arguably one of the leading architects in the country at a time when the profession was still in its embryonic stages of development.
Few areas of Britain can claim so many architectural gems in such a small space. “Bess” of Hardwick receives much of the credit - and notoriety - for this, but the architects of the time provided the real genius. The formidable Bess first created Hardwick in the late 1500s, but it was Robert Symthson who designed the magnificent house, which was designed deliberately, not only to symbolise her wealth and status, but also to push the boundaries of architectural design.
By the time Robert Smythson began the design for Hardwick, he had already worked on Longleat House in Wiltshire, and Wollaton Hall in Nottingham. Hardwick, completed in 1597, however, is regarded as one of the most complete examples of Elizabethan architecture.
As well as reflecting Smythson's most distinctive feature - symmetry - in which the shape of the building provides a perfect sense of balance, it also heralded the use of glass on a previously unprecedented scale. And the visual impact this created, both externally, and internally (through the light it allowed in), survives to this day.
Famously described as “more glass than walls”, it created a sense of symmetry and light seldom seen before.
Following Robert's death in 1614, his son John carried-on the family tradition, as did his grandson, Huntingdon. And the legacy they created can now be seen and appreciated throughout north east Derbyshire.
It is the Bolsover area, however, which is at the very heart of 'Smythson Country', and provides the natural starting point for a tour of their properties and surrounding area.
The National Trust’s Hardwick Hall will be celebrating the life and work of the men who built the property - from various new interpretations in the Hall and. Their ever-popular behind-the-scenes tours are also back for 2014. Additional details about Hardwick Hall can be found at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardwick/things-to-see-and-do/events/.
For further tourist information from the area, visit www.visitchesterfield.info.
For further information, and images please contact:
Tel: 01246-345775 Email: Alyson.Barnes@Chesterfield.gov.uk