Elizabethan Architecture by Sue Choules
February 2, 2015

Hardwick Hall

Image taken from the National Trust website

As I’ve been watching BBC2’s excellent adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and enjoying the candlelit intrigues, sorrows and steady rise of Thomas Cromwell, I’ve often found myself looking at the beautiful honey-coloured buildings in the background and wondering where they are.

The second episode, in particular, featured scenes at Greenwich Palace with Henry VIII and his courtiers playing archery in the formal gardens. Flicking through the excellent National Trust magazine, I was therefore interested to read about the six Trust properties that were used in the series. I was especially interested to read that Montacute House in Somerset was the property standing in for Greenwich Palace.

I’ve visited Montacute and it made a real impression on me. It’s not just the beautiful, warm colour of the ham stone walls but the row upon row of large windows which give it such an air of grandeur. The house is so perfectly proportioned and sits in immaculate gardens. Added to that is the Long Gallery (the longest in Britain) on the top floor where you can wander over authentic rush matting and view over 60 Tudor and Elizabethan portraits which are on loan from the National Portrait Gallery. It’s really worth a visit.

By the way, I can also recommend some of the other properties featured in Wolf Hall, such as Lacock Abbey and Great Chalfield Manor, both in Wiltshire. If you’d like to find out more about grand Elizabethan architecture borrow our Brilliant Buildings book where you can explore Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire and find out about its formidable creator, Bess of Hardwick.

Hardwick Hall

Tactile image of Hardwick Hall from our Touch to See and audio book Brilliant Buildings

It seems that Wolf Hall is set to pervade every aspect of our lives this winter! Even designers have got in on the act and the Spring/Summer collection of Valentino, for example, featured tight, low-cut Ann Boleyn-inspired bodices and flared sleeves. It’s a pretty sure bet that Tudoresque clothes will be hitting high street shops soon – just as long as it’s not doublet and hose!


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