From Bess's troubled granddaughter and once heir to the thrown, Arbella, to the last Lady of Hardwick, these two new exhibitions give us even more insight into Hardwick Hall's past.
First up though we stopped for lunch, the Great Barn Restaurant has a selection of light bites as well as hearty meals, there is also a fabulous menu for both adults and children.
I chose the cheese and leak scone with ham salad, it was fabulous, a full plate and packed to the brim with tasty salad and accompaniments. My husband chose the full English breakfast which is served up until 12pm and my son had the cottage pie, all really tasty and big plates. My daughter chose one of the children's lunch boxes, for £4.50 it came with a nice big ham cob, crisps, a drink, some fruit and a chocolate bar as well as a box to colour in, some crayons and a booklet.
There were some wonderful cakes to chose from, so we had a couple of pieces to share, they offer cream teas too and plenty of drinks, both hot and cold. Once you've placed your order, you can take a seat and relax, there are plenty of tables and chairs available, inside or in the cobbled courtyard. The food was served quickly and we all had clean plates at the end.
After lunch we went over to the house, it was a warm day but inside the house was cool and so a welcome relief on the hot summer day. On entering we were welcomed by a member of the team who explained about the house and gave us a quiz sheet for the children to complete as they walked around the house, as well as a sheet of naughty history for the adults.
The new exhibit takes you through the life of Arbella and the history of how she didn't make it to become Queen of England after Elizabeth I died. The story is a sad one and ends with her lonely demise as a prisoner in the Tower of London.
The artefacts, beds and furniture in the house oozed sophistication and grandeur, as we moved through to the Last Lady of Hardwick exhibition, you could see tastes and styles change, however the opulence still remained.
Not only do they tell you about those that lived here, but they do also go on to tell you about what the National Trust do in order to look after the artefacts in the house, how they are cleaned, repaired etc. It is very interesting and the kids loved it too.
A final visit to one of the most important rooms in the house, the kitchen, here the children could get involved in some carpet weaving, napkin folding and see what was needed to keep the members of the house fed. All throughout the house in fact, there were things for the children to get involved in, gone are the stuffy days of not being able to touch anything and walking round like soldiers, the staff members got involved, engaged with you and for me this brought to life what the house was about for the children and adults alike.
After we'd visited the house we went outside into the beautiful rose gardens, the smell hit you before we even got close, it reminded me of my grandparents house growing up, they would make some excellent rose petal perfume.
The children amused themselves running around the garden, playing under the trees and looking in the pond. Had we had more time, it would have been a lovely place to sit and read a book as the sun shone down.
The rest of the gardens were equally as beautiful, running amongst the trees and looking at all of the vegetables and beautiful flowers was a great way to spend a sunny afternoon, with plenty of benches and spots to eat a picnic, Hardwick Hall is a wonderful place to spend the day.
We'd had so much fun and even when it got to leaving time, we still hadn't seen everything, there are so many areas to explore, you could really could make a full day of it, from opening until closing.
Our final stop was a trip down Lady Spencer's Walk, with some rope swings, an obstacle course, forest games and dens it was a delightful way to end the day. My daughter didn't want to leave she was enjoying it all so much.
Hardwick Hall is a fantastic way to spend a day out, perfect for the summer holidays too, it is easy to get to, being only 5 minutes off J28 of the M1. With plenty of space to run around, have a picnic and with a great choice of food, there really is something for everyone.
NB: We were given complimentary entry and food tickets for the day, however all words, photos and opinions are my own.