Skip to content
  1. Do it online
  2. Login
  3. Have your say
  4. My Durham

History of Hardwick Park

Hardwick Park is an 18th century Grade II listed site with many historical features to discover.


Our café offers light lunches, snacks and drinks between 10.00am and 3.30pm daily (times may vary). Our gift shop is open from 11.00am to 4.00pm (weekends and school holidays only). Our car park closes at 5.00pm.

Toilets are open daily from 10.00am to 4.00pm and are cleaned regularly. Hand washing facilities are available in our toilets.

To reduce the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus, we encourage you to continue to practice social distancing when meeting with others and wear a face covering in our indoor spaces.

Our exhibition area remains closed.

A grand vision 

In the 18th century, John Burdon set about transforming the Hardwick Estate into his own pleasure grounds. To help him achieve his vision he employed James Paine, a leading architect of the time. Their grand plan was to create a garden that, although heavily engineered, was meant to look completely natural. It was a huge step away from the formal gardens of the past. Paine created ornamental buildings, ruins, lakes and woodland which looked like they had always been part of the landscape. Even the serpentine (the smaller lake) was created to look like a river flowing through the park.

The historic circuit walk

The buildings and structures in Hardwick Park were designed to be experienced from a circuit walk, set around two artificial lakes. Classical buildings (their styles becoming more complex and decorative as the route progressed) alternated with Gothic structures. The classical buildings, with dark and gloomy surroundings, were carefully finished and situated in open areas, while the Gothic Structures were roughly finished and designed to look old and ruined. Each structure was sited to link with the others. 

Restoration project

By the late 19th century, Burdon's estate fell on hard times. The buildings disappeared, the lake silted up and the magical views became overgrown with trees and undergrowth until 1999 when we embarked on a project to return the grounds to their former glory.

The project came about thanks to a £4.1m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the reconstruction and restoration of four gothic ruins, The Temple of Minerva, the Gothic Ruin, the Gothic Seat and the Bono Retiro began.

Work was completed in 2010.

Visitor Attraction Quality Marque

In partnership with

  • Visitor Attraction Quality Marque