Hardwick Hall is a country house dating from around 1590 and was built for Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury (Born circa 1527 – Died 13 February 1608) (also known as Bess of Hardwick), who was thought to be the richest woman in Elizabethan England after Queen Elizabeth I (Born 7 September 1533 – Died 24 March 1603) herself.
Bess of Hardwick was married four times*. She was widowed three times and separated from her fourth husband, George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury before building Hardwick Hall. Her son William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire (Born 27 December 1552 – Died 3 March 1626) inherited Hardwick Hall following her death in 1608, though he made another of her great houses, Chatsworth, the family seat.
Hardwick Hall stayed in the family until the middle of the 20th century and the death of Edward William Spencer Cavendish, 10th Duke of Devonshire (Born 6 May 1895 – Died 26 November 1950)***. Much of the Devonshire estate was sold to pay death duties and Hardwick House was passed to Her Majesty’s Treasury in 1956.
Since 1959 Hardwick Hall has been owned by the National Trust and is open to the public. Besides Hardwick is the ruin of Hardwick Old Hall which Bess began building in 1587, just a few years before she began construction of Hardwick Hall. It is thought the two building were meant to complement each other. Hardwick Old Hall is owned by English Heritage.
The investigator and author Andrew Green referred to the apparition of a monk being seen in the grounds of Hardwick Hall on 4 January 1976. The figures was witnessed by Mark Gresswell and Carol Rawlings driving through Hardwick Park after 8.00pm. Carol described the figures as someone `With a black habit -type attire and a brilliant white face`. Mark turned the car around to go back and see what Carol had seen. They then both saw a figure in a monks habit without hands or feet but with an almost illuminous brilliant white face. The figure veered away from their stationary car and vanished.
The landlady of the Hardwick then told them that the monk had been seen twice since 31st December 1975 and 4 January 1976. Four days. The driver and passenger of another car that Mark saw in the grounds confirmed they had also seen the ghostly monk at around the same time. It was also seen on the outskirts of Sutton in Ashfield by two young ladies some time later.
Other sources have mentioned that a woman, possibly Bess of Hardwick walks along the Long Gallery. Also, other hauntings may include a woman in blue, a cat and a crying woman.
* First marriage to Robert Barlow (Died aged about 15). Secondly in 1547 she married Sir William Cavendish (Born 1505 – Died 25 October 1557), a courtier and Member of Parliament for Thirsk. They moved from Suffolk to Bess’s home county of Derbyshire and started to build Chatsworth House in 1552. In January 1559 she married Sir William St Loe (Born 1518–1565) Member of Parliament for Derbyshire. Her fourth and final marriage was to George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, 6th Earl of Waterford, 12th Baron Talbot, 11th Baron Furnivall, (Born 1528 – Died 18 November 1590), military commander and keeper to Mary, Queen of Scots (Born 8 December 1542 – Died 8 February 1587) from 26 January 1569**.
**They kept Mary in their properties, Tutbury Castle, Wingfield Manor, Chatsworth House and Sheffield Castle.
*** Edward William Spencer Cavendish a Freemason and Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England between 1947 to 1950.