The History bit
Hardwick Hall Country park is on land that was originally, in medieval times next to Hardwyck Manor, now Hardwick Hall Country Hotel. The 18th century saw dramatic change: a new hall was built, and a new owner—a wealthy businessman from Tyneside named John Burdon—began to develop the grounds. Burdon enhanced the 17-acre ornamental lake on the south side of the hall by adding an artificial river leading to it and encircling it with a walkway. In all, he laid out 40 acres of additional ornamental features, including temples, grottoes and follies designed primarily by London architect James Paine. Although the grounds and buildings were not subsequently well maintained, the garden retains Pain’s basic structure and is an unusual example of authentic 18th century landscape design.
Durham County Council had already begun to acquire parts of the grounds when in 1997 it determined to undertake the preservation of the whole park. A study commissioned in 1999 provided a detailed estimate of the expenses of restoration and also indicated the property’s significance, leading the Register of Parks and Gardens to give it a II* rating. With assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the County purchased more of the grounds in 2001 and launched a restoration scheme to bring it all back to its former condition. The park now includes a visitor centre, cafe, toilets, exhibition, classroom and office.
Sophie and I came here for the afternoon once we’d finished at the Pumping station, we needed somewhere to lunch and this was nearest. Turned out a really lovely place to walk around, so we stayed for the afternoon.