Hardwick Hall Tapestries
Tapestries were used extensively to cover the walls. Some came from that other great house of the Cavendish family - Chatsworth - and others were bought by Bess for Hardwick. In fact the series of thirteen enormous Brussels tapestries illustrating the Story of Gideon which hang in the Long Gallery were acquired 'second hand' from the then Lord Chancellor who had run up enormous debts. Elizabeth bought them at a knock down price of £326.15.9d which she then had reduced because it was necessary to superimpose her own arms over those of Sir Christopher.
|Long Gallery with the Story of Gideon tapestries|
|Green Velvet Room with Abraham tapestries|
In the High Great Chamber, as well as a superb plaster frieze, hang the Ulysses tapestries
On a more human scale are four tapestries depicting putti playing games found on one of the staircases. These were made, not in Flanders, but in the short lived Hatton Garden workshop - albeit using Flemish weavers, They date from 1678 and were acquired by a subsequent generation after Bess's death. They are known as the 'Polidoros' - it is believed the designs were taken from a series of paintings by Polidoro di Carravagio acquired by Charles 1.
|Hatton Garden late 17th century|
|Hatton Garden Playing Boys c. 1678|
My interest in tapestry - and in the preserving of fragments by making them into cushions - gained immeasurably from looking closely at the Hardwick hangings. Details of borders I find especially interesting for it is fragments from these which I am most able to find and use. The motifs and subjects used at different periods and from different locations cast a light onto the origins of pieces.
The Trust has been undertaking conservation of the Gideon tapestries from Hardwick and is now on the eleventh in the series:
The subject of conserving tapestry came up recently when chatting with a fellow blogger in the United States. Ann was fortunate to take part in the restoration of a tapestry from a church in Milwaukee which she describes here: http://annquiltsblog.blogspot.com/2012/02/and-now-for-something-completely.html