Ribbons were cut, cameras clicked and cake was scoffed as His Grace the Duke of Devonshire and Dame Fiona Reynolds, Director General of the National Trust opened Hardwick Stableyard.
The opening of the newly renovated Stableyard buildings at the National Trust’s Hardwick brings an exciting new visitor experience to the property. The £6.5 million Stableyard project, which has been under development for the past seven years, has involved the refurbishment and transformation of a collection of disused estate buildings into the vibrant hub of Hardwick. The new facilities will be open 365 days a year, providing the property’s visitors with a warm welcome throughout the seasons.
The Great Barn, once the centre of agricultural activity on the Hardwick Estate, has been converted into a contemporary and stylish two-storey restaurant. Visitors will be able to enjoy a long lunch with friends or indulge in a quick coffee and bacon sandwich with the morning’s paper, in light, airy and comfy surroundings. A further food outlet, the Coach House Kiosk, serves delicious light snacks and ice-cream and is ideal for packing a quick picnic to take with you on a stroll in the parkland. If you’re looking for a bit of retail therapy, the Stables Shop are stocked with a selection of hand-picked and high-quality gifts and the Outdoors and Garden Shop is packed full with gardening gear and plants, including some grown on the Hardwick estate. There’s even a new car park with a distinctive lack of potholes and puddles. All in all, the Hardwick Stableyard provides a fresh and new retail outlet that is a world away from the busy high-street.
However, the Stableyard is not only a commercial hub for the Hardwick estate but is also a site of fascinating historical interpretation. The Stableyard buildings date back to the sixteenth century and were built and altered over 400 years by the Dukes of Devonshire according to the needs of the estate. The buildings were crucial to the running of Hardwick in a number of ways and over time have been a great source of employment for the local area. The stories of these buildings have been brought to life in a number of innovative ways, ensuring visitors walk away with a real sense of what went on at Hardwick Stableyard.
The Stableyard will officially be open to the public on 2 April and has been funded by East Midlands Tourism, Derbyshire Economic Partnership, English Heritage, Heritage Lottery Fund, LEADER, CSEP, Defra, the Ironmongery Company and the National Trust.