Bess and her descendants: the Cavendishes at Hardwick and Chatsworth

Tuesday 18 February 2014, 10.30 am – 3.30 pm

Venue: Dalmeny Hotel, St Annes

Popular lecturer Roger Mitchell will give two lectures, which will provide insights into the Cavendish family of Hardwick Hall and Chatsworth.

Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, known as Bess of Hardwick, was a notable figure of 16th Century English society and the second most rich and powerful woman of the Elizabethan age. She was born in the 1520’s and died in 1608. She married four times: firstly, to Robert Barlow who died in his teens; secondly, to the courtier Sir William Cavendish; thirdly, to Sir William St Loe; and, lastly, to George Talbot.6th Earl of Shrewsbury, a keeper to the captive Mary Queen of Scots for 15 years. She bore eight children, two of whom died in infancy, all to her second husband.

Between 1585 and 1590 she built Hardwick Old Hall and even though the Old Hall wasn’t yet complete she started work on the new, larger and grander Hardwick Hall. She supervised their construction, checked accounts and lived to see both buildings completed by the most talented of Elizabethan designers. Chatsworth was purchased in 1549 by Sir William Cavendish and Bess, and a large new house was constructed. Their son was created Earl of Devonshire in 1618 and his great grandson, the 4th Earl, became the first Duke in 1694. At around 1700 he rebuilt the whole house and greatly extended the gardens. Major changes were again made in the 19 Century.


Programme for the day

10.30 – 11.00 am Refreshments on arrival in the St Annes Suite

11.00 – 12.15 pm First Lecture: Bess of Hardwick – her life and her extraordinary family

12.30 – 1.30 pm Three course lunch, served in the Carvery: Soup, followed by a choice from the Carvery of a meat, fish or vegetarian option of the day, with a selection of vegetables. This will be followed by a selection of sweets.

1.30 – 2.00 pm Refreshments, available in the St Annes Suite

2.00 – 3.15 pm Second lecture: History of Hardwick and Chatsworth