Hardwick Hall, National Trust



This Elizabethan Mansion was built in 1597 by Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury (the formidable Bess of Hardwick). Set in a 2,500 acre estate with 18.5 acres of walled gardens Hardwick Hall makes an impressive statement of power and wealth.

In 1959 the National Trust took possession of the Hall, and since then visitor numbers viewing the remarkable collection of 16th Century furniture and paintings and large collection of huge tapestries has steadily increased to 167,000.

Project Motivation

The Trust made a decision to upgrade the site signage using a process of Masterplanning and honest site evaluation with a view to pushing the visitor figures to 221,000 for 2012/13. It was decided a consistent visual identity was required that enhanced visitor experience, covering the initial welcome leaflet and internal displays, external information and directional signs, down to the humble temporary signs; providing a memorable experience for visitors that will help with the forecast growth.

Through a competitive tendering process Fitzpatrick Woolmer was awarded the contract for the external signage; the decision being based on value for money, other National Trust site referrals and our reputation for manufacturing high quality and long lasting products.

Fifty signs to be printed, manufactured and installed in 6 weeks! We had to pull out all the stops; and we made it.


The project involved a range of signage including welcome and navigational signs, interpretive lecterns and directional finger posts, temporary information signs and A boards.

Manufactured from FSC certified semi-seasoned and green oak, with a full colour graphic panel, the signs made an impressive statement. All fittings were stainless steel and plugged so there were no visible fixings and no fear of corrosion.

Using our in-house CNC router we engraved the National Trust logo and bands into the posts. To help maintain continuity and branding each unit was backed with a powder-coated aluminium panel to match the corporate palette.

For an extra flourish the lecterns had a deep routed recess and stainless steel bar fitted into the posts to dispense leaflets for visitors.

In addition to permanent signs there was also a need for updateable entrance signs, allowing opening times and prices to be changed. To achieve this we printed additional panels, with threaded inserts placed into the existing displays and security screws to secure the alternate panels to the face; updating the information couldn’t be simpler.

Have you ever seen a hexagonal timber finger post? That was a challenge we rose to. The post was profiled from a 90mm square section of FSC certified semi-seasoned oak, with full colour digitally printed aluminium directional arms fixed on two levels. A hexagonal weather cap was fitted to the top of the post, and bands routed at the top and bottom of each arm to give a very distinguished look. Again, all fittings were stainless steel and plugged so no visible fixings could be seen and there was no fear of corrosion.

Whilst site preparations and landscaping were still on-going, we sent in our stout hearted installation team to start the final push and complete the impossible. Delivery was split over three drops allowing the team to remove existing signs and install the new ones over a period of six days. To the great delight of Ian Hunt, Outdoors Manager, the project was completed on schedule and within a very tight deadline.