NZ3428 : Temple of Minerva, Hardwick Hall Country Park

taken 12 years ago, near to Sedgefield, County Durham, England

Temple of Minerva, Hardwick Hall Country Park
Temple of Minerva, Hardwick Hall Country Park
The Temple of Minerva was one of the original features on the grand circuit walk. The building was designed by James Paine and constructed under the supervision of John Bell of Durham between 1754 and 1757. It was built on a prominent hill with views in all directions, including over the lake to Hardwick Hall NZ3428 : Temple of Minerva, Hardwick Hall Country Park. It was surrounded by a ha-ha wall to allow ununterupted views and exclude livestock.
It was built in the Ionic style and dedicated to Minerva, Roman goddess of wisdom and patroness of the Arts. It consisted of a single room, above which was a leaded dome on an octagon of sandstone. The niches, on either side of the single window in each fašade, carried busts of literary figures on decorative plinths, including Shakespeare and Homer. A colonnade of twenty Ionic columns surrounded the building providing a covered walk around the temple. The single room was elaborately decorated, the floor with marble mosaic tiles, further busts round the walls (Socrates and Plato) and an elaborately painted domed ceiling.

As shown here NZ3428 : The Temple at Hardwick before restoration, the temple before restoration was mostly ruined and, before it was cleared, lost in a plantation of pine trees. Restoration was aided by the availability of Paine's original plans in the Durham Council archives.

Keys to the Past: LinkExternal link (Archive LinkExternal link )
Hardwick Park

John Burdon, a wealthy Tyneside merchant, bought the 150 acre Hardwick Estate in 1748. With the aid of architect, James Paine (1717-89), he developed a range of ornamental buildings, lakes and paths to create a grand Circuit Walk used as a guided walk for the enjoyment and entertainment of his friends. It was basically a playground for rich ladies and gentlemen of the time.

At the end of the C18th, Burdon sold the Park to William Russell and it was then transferred by marriage to the Boyne family. Pleasure gardens had gone out of fashion and the Park went into decline, the buildings became ruined and overgrown and the lakes silted up or drained.
In the C20th, parts of the Park were forested or used for agriculture, and Hardwick Hall was used as a training facility for the unemployed, then a maternity hospital, and eventually a hotel.
In 2001 Durham County Council purchased the whole site with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund and embarked on a 10 year restoration project.

Keys to the Past Hardwick Park (Sedgefield) LinkExternal link
National Heritage List for England Entry Number: 1000730 LinkExternal link

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NZ3428, 69 images   (more nearby 🔍)
Andrew Curtis   (more nearby)
Date Taken
Friday, 7 October, 2011   (more nearby)
Sunday, 9 October, 2011
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NZ 3429 2897 [10m precision]
WGS84: 54:39.2800N 1:28.2025W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NZ 3439 2895
View Direction
WEST (about 270 degrees)
Clickable map
W Go E
Image classification(about): Geograph
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