It’s not all walking…

IanHi! My name is Ian Hunt and I am the Outdoors Manager for the Hardwick Portfolio based at Hardwick Hall. I’m going to be writing a regular monthly blog to give you an insight into me and my role and how the ‘outdoors’ works here at Hardwick.

I am a long-standing member of National Trust staff, this being my 23rd year. I have always worked in the outdoors; first as a gardener eventually becoming Head Gardener here at Hardwick and for the past 7 years I have been Outdoors Manager. During this time I have seen the profile of the outdoors rise and fall where at certain times gardens were at the forefront,  then the built structure environment was more prominent and now to the present where our current Land, Outdoors and Nature strategy has put all elements of the outdoors to the fore. It has always been a pleasure and a privilege to work for the National Trust in the outdoors and my current role now allows me to help shape the future of our natural environment.

My role is incredibly diverse; I can be walking in the park and garden doing the butterfly transects one day and deciding the long-term future of the estate and its portfolio in a 50 year visioning meeting the next!Butterfly in autumnButterflies are a personal passion of mine and something that I love to talk to others about. I love everything about them from their beauty to the fact that they are a barometer to how the natural world is developing. If the butterflies are happy the rest of the natural world is usually happy. I do recording and survey work for Butterfly Conservation and for the National Trust. I am also hoping to see all 59 butterflies that we see each year in the UK; I am currently up to 37. If you and your family want to get involved in the ‘Big Butterfly Count’ this summer, you find out more here. It’s a great activity for getting kids interested in life cycles and the wildlife around them.

I am really fortunate to have two excellent teams to help me deliver mine and the National Trusts thinking on a day to day basis. The ranger’s team manage the 2000 acre estate and the gardens team manage the 18.5 acre formal garden here at Hardwick and also the small country house garden at Eyam. Their role as with mine is incredibly diverse, from growing the plants for the borders and managing the woodland to helping out with events across the portfolio.  The staff are supported by around 80 volunteers who are invaluable in helping us maintain and develop the garden and park.Hall and Park early 90s

So there you have it, a whistle stop introduction to my world and what I do. More outdoors fun to come including roses, Duck Decoys and Icehouses.

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What’s going on at Hardwick Park

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Those of you that have recently been to the park may have noticed that some parts of it are sectioned off to the public

Firstly…A little bit of history. Some of you may well already know that Hardwick Park was once home to the only existing Duck Decoy in Derbyshire
Built in 1860 and worked with trapped doors at either end to capture wild ducks
Around the time of the Great Depression, many duck decoys fell in to disuse as was the case with Hardwick’s around 1893

So…We have some exciting news; we’re currently working on a new project! The reason that bits of the park have been sectioned off is because we’re working on restoring Hardwick’s duck decoy!
The pictures attached will help give you a little bit of an insight as to what’s been going on
We’ll be sure to keep you updated as we get on!

Off for conservation…

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Off for conservation...

Next week Lucretia will be leaving Hardwick for conservation at the National Trust Textile Conservation Studio, after a hundred years in the Entrance Hall

The piece is part of 5 embroideries that are known as the ‘Virtuous Women’, one of which; ‘Cleopatra’ now does not exist

Penelope has already returned from conservation just this month! – After leaving in 2011. The piece depicts the story of the wife of Ulysses, and represents her virtues while waiting for the return of her husband from war

Once each piece has returned from conservation they will be displayed in a brand new exhibition ‘Stitches of Time’, and we can’t wait for you to see each piece as it returns over the years!

Penelope will be on display for you to see from late June

Gideon through time

Textile Conservation Studio

Have you ever wondered what our tapestries would have looked like with their original unfaded colours?

Take a look at this brilliant digital representation of one of the 16th century Gideon tapestries from Hardwick Hall. See it fade from it’s original colours through to what we see now – 450 years later.

There are 13 of these tapestries, 10 have been conserved with the 11th currently in the studio and fundraising for the remaining two ongoing to preserve them for the next 100 years.

Thanks to our colleagues at Hardwick Hall and Rusty Monkey Ltd for this video and to Chris Tims who took the original photos.

Video and digital colour restoration by Rusty Monkey Ltd

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The Countdown is almost over..

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The Countdown is almost over..

The winter clean is finished.

The dust covers are officially off and it’s only two days until we’re open for the season.

The team has been working incredibly hard to ensure the House is looking its upmost best – which hasn’t been without its challenges.

From changing the curtains (some of which require scaffolding to even be able to reach!) To dealing with snow, rain and wind… Rain that managed to find its way into the long gallery!

The clean is finished and it’s almost time to welcome you back to Hardwick.

What you’ve got to look forward to this year:This year we celebrate Smythson with have a go stone carving, parkland sculpture trails and pop up workshops

As well as that, here’s a taster of what’s going on in 2014…

First up will be the behinds the scene tour which focuses on why Hardwick was so innovative from its symmetry to privacy

April will offer Cadbury’s Easter egg trails all over the House and Gardens

May will bring the 50 things launch event where you’ll be able to have a go at den building, making mud pies, kite making, creating bug homes and snail racing

Then come the Summer holidays, with Wild Family Fun days and Films under the stars! (not to forget the BBQ that comes along with it)

We can’t wait for you to see the House, the Gardens and everything that’s going on in 2014!

Grand Designs

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Grand Designs

1597. The year Hardwick was built.

Like the Shard in London today or the Crystal Palace in 1851, Hardwick is a grand example of its period’s innovation.

The new Hall was designed to symbolise wealth and status, and the architect Robert Smythson pushed boundaries in its design. It boasts more glass than used in a property before. Not only is Hardwick symmetrical from the front, but is symmetrical from all four sides.

From outdoor exhibitions of contemporary artworks, pop up workshops, tours & talks and guided walks – we’re looking at Hardwick from a different view this year.

Designed by the architect Robert Smythson at a time when architecture was not a concept.

This year, the anniversary of Robert Smythson – we celebrate the men who built Hardwick; we’re looking at the story behind the stone.