Archive for the ‘Hardwick Hall’ Category

Virtue and vice at Hardwick Hall

October 29, 2013
Detail of a painted wall hanging, depicting the conversion of Saul, c. 1600, in the Chapel at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Detail of a painted wall hanging, depicting the conversion of Saul, c. 1600, in the Chapel at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

An exhibition at Hardwick Hall explores the political, religious, and social upheaval of the Reformation. It shows how these new ideas and beliefs were reflected in the historic interiors and collections of the house.

The virtuous Penelope, in an appliqué wall hanging in the Hall at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammondbyshire

The virtuous Penelope, in an appliqué wall hanging in the Hall at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/John Hammondbyshire

The exhibition, called Virtue and Vice, has been curated by the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the University of York. It has also benefited from the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project European Conversion Narratives, c.1550-1700.

The Eglantine table, inlaid with musical instruments, sheet music, games and arms, crests and mottoes, possibly c. 1567, in the High Great Chamber at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/Nick Guttridge

The Eglantine table, inlaid with musical instruments, sheet music, games and arms, crests and mottoes, possibly c. 1567, in the High Great Chamber at Hardwick Hall. ©National Trust Images/Nick Guttridge

In this video Dr Helen Smith, reader in Renaissance literature at the University of York, talks about the concept of the exhibition. And in this one a choral group performs the motet ‘Oh Lord in Thee is all my trust’ inlaid in the so-called Eglantine table in the High Great Chamber. At Hardwick, at least, Virtue seems to have found an ally in Beauty.

Traces of the Bachelor Duke

October 20, 2010

The Long Gallery at Hardwick ©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Hardwick Hall is one of those places that look deceptively unchanged. In a previous post I referred to the building of the house by Bess of Hardwick in the late sixteenth century. In fact, a huge amount of change took place there subsequently, particularly during the time of William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire (1790-1858).

The canopy in the Long Gallery, from a bed made by Francis Lapierre for Chatsworth in 1697. ©NTPL/Nick Guttridge

The ‘Bachelor Duke’, as he was known, inherited the title and the huge Cavendish estates in 1811, at the age of 21. He was spoilt and extravagant, but also lively and loveable, and he greatly enjoyed entertaining, in spite of his increasing deafness.

Early-eighteenth-century bed in the Green Velvet Room. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

The Bachelor Duke combined an abiding interest in the past with a Regency love of splendour. At Hardwick he restored the fabric and the interiors of the house, but he didn’t hesitate to move things around and add furnishings from some of his other properties.

Bed from about 1740 in the Cut Velvet Bedroom. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

He greatly increased the number of paintings hung on the tapestries in the Long Gallery, for instance, effectively making it into an art gallery. He also added the tester and head of a 1697 state bed brought from Chatsworth halfway down the Gallery, in a romantic recreation of the state canopies of Bess of Hardwick’s day.

Cupboard in the style of Jean Goujon set against Flemish tapestries in the Withdrawing Chamber.©NTPL/Nick Guttridge

The early eighteenth-century green velvet bed at Hardwick was brought by the Bachelor Duke from Londesborough Hall in Yorkshire, which the Cavendishes had inherited from the Earl of Burlington in 1753. The cut velvet bed in another room, by Thomas Hardy and dating from about 1740, came from Chatsworth.

Conservation work being done on one of the Gideon tapestries from the Long Gallery at Hardwick, part of a long-term programme of conservation being undertaken at the textile conservation workshop at Blickling Hall. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The Bachelor Duke was also responsible for adding more tapestries to the walls of Hardwick, using it almost like wallpaper. It appealed to his romantic eye, as well as providing some protection against the perishingly cold Derbyshire winters.

The Cavendish connection

October 11, 2010

Although inscribed as a portrait of Queen Mary, this painting probably represents the young Elizabeth Hardwick. ©NTPL/Angelo Hornak

In response to the previous post the Columnist asked about the link between Hardwick Hall and Chatsworth House, the principal seat of the Duke of Devonshire. It all goes back to Elizabeth Hardwick, who built Hardwick Hall and who laid the foundations for no less than three Cavendish dukedoms.

The south front of Hardwick Hall, with Bess of Hardwick's initials along the roofline. ©NTPL/Robert Morris

Elizabeth came from a modest gentry family, but each of her four successive marriages carried her further up the social ladder. The initials on the ramparts of Hardwick stand for Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury, which she became through her fourth marriage, to the Earl of Shrewsbury.

Sir William Cavendish (1505?-1557). ©NTPL/Hawkley Studios

But the only one of her marriages to result in children was the second one,  to Sir William Cavendish. He was a government servant who had made his fortune under Henry VIII.

The second son from that marriage, William, is the ancestor of the Dukes of Devonshire, while from the third son, Charles, descended the Cavendishes, Dukes of Newcastle, and the Cavendish-Bentincks, Dukes of Portland.

The High Great Chamber at Hardwick. ©NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

Bess of Hardwick, as she became known, built Hardwick Hall between 1590 and 1597. This was after her fourth husband’s death, when she had become one of the richest people in the country.  

She would dine in state in the High Great Chamber, almost like a queen. An extraordinary coloured plasterwork frieze runs along the walls with figures repsresenting Diana, Venus and Summer in a forest setting. The Brussels tapestries below depict the story of Ulysses.

Figure of Penelope in an embroidered hanging depicting famous historical and mythical heroines, created in the 1570s. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Bess particularly identified with Penelope, Ulysses’s long-suffering and ultimately triumphant wife, who appears in an embroidered hanging now in the Hall. Hardwick has one of the most important collections of embroidery created for and by one household.

A corner of the Long Gallery. ©NTPL/Nick Guttridge

The colours of the textiles at Hardwick are now mostly rather faded, which gives it a mellow beauty. But originally the colour schemes would have been bright, brash and glitzy, befitting a country girl who had ‘made it’. In spite of the passing of time, Bess’s personality is still very much in evidence at Hardwick.

From the attic

October 8, 2010

Morquette carpet by Piat Lefebvre et Fils, Tournai, early nineteenth century, lot 662 in the Chatsworth sale. ©Sotheby's

We have just secured two lots at the Sotheby’s Chatsworth ‘attic’ sale, at which the Duke of Devonshire was selling a few odds and ends which were clogging up his store rooms. There were actually about 20,000 objects in all, but that’s ducal housekeeping for you. 

The entrance front of Hardwick Hall. ©NTPL/Mike Williams

We were trying to get things that had been at Hardwick Hall, the iconic Elizabethan house in Derbyshire which used to be owned by the Cavendishes (Dukes of Devonshire). We were bidding for a number of items, but the competition was stiff, with many lots going way beyond their upper estimates.

The Drawing Room at Hardwick. The Tournai carpet was shown in this room in a late nineteenth-century photograph in Country Life magazine. ©NTPL/Nick Guttridge

It was an interesting example of the ‘country house effect’, where the association with a historic house and an old family causes bidders to compete for objects that might not get a second glance in another context. 

Cavendish family deed boxes, lot 902 in the Chatsworth sale. ©Sotheby’s

But then we understand the value of context at the National trust too – the Devonshire deed boxes we bought will add a bit of family atmosphere to Hardwick. And the proceeds of the sale are said to be going towards improvements at the Chatsworth estate, which already has an excellent conservation programme, so that must be a good thing.


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