The state bed canopy at Hardwick

Full-length portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, English School, 1590s, oil on canvas, at Hardwick Hall, acquired through the National Land Fund and transferred to the National Trust in 1959,  NT1129128. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Full-length portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, English School, 1590s, oil on canvas, at Hardwick Hall, acquired through the National Land Fund and transferred to the National Trust in 1959, NT1129128. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The previous two posts about textiles at Hardwick Hall gave me the idea to show some images of the Long Gallery there.

This imposing, almost hieratic portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, which hangs in the Long Gallery, illustrates the importance of textiles in Elizabethan interiors and court display. In her spectacularly embroidered clothes, encrusted with jewels, the queen is effectively en suite with the hangings behind her, the upholstered chair next to her and the carpet beneath her feet.

The late seventeenth-century silk canopy in the Long Gallery at Hardwick, originally part of a state bed made for Chatsworth by Francis Lapierre in 1697. Acquired through the National Land Fund and transferred to the National Trust in 1959, NT1127772. ©National Trust Images/Nick Guttridge

The late seventeenth-century silk canopy in the Long Gallery at Hardwick, originally part of a state bed made for Chatsworth by Francis Lapierre in 1697. Acquired through the National Land Fund and transferred to the National Trust in 1959, NT1127772. ©National Trust Images/Nick Guttridge

Near this portrait is a red silk bed canopy and headboard. It was originally part of the bed in the State Bedroom at Chatsworth and is one of the most magnificent surviving examples of late-seventeenth-century English upholstery.

The interior of the canopy in the Long Gallery. National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The interior of the canopy in the Long Gallery. National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

It was brought to Hardwick by the 6th Duke of Devonshire in the nineteenth century and set up as a kind of romantic stage set.

The portrait of Queen Elizabeth I hanging on top of one of the Gideon tapestries in the Long Gallery. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The portrait of Queen Elizabeth I hanging on top of one of the Gideon tapestries in the Long Gallery. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

The walls of the Long Gallery are hung with a set of thirteen Flemish tapestries, probably made in Oudenaarde, showing the Biblical story of Gideon and his triumph over the Midianites.

These unusually tall tapestries were purchased by Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury, the builder of Hardwick, in 1592. Originally they were the sole wall decoration in this room, but by the second half of the eighteenth century a number of paintings had been added on top.

4 Responses to “The state bed canopy at Hardwick”

  1. Susan Walter Says:

    The other thing Hardwick demonstrates is the thriving market for second hand fine textiles (tapestries, bed linen, fine clothing) in the 16th century. No one commissioned a houseful of tapestries — they were too expensive and took too long to arrive. Most places would have, say, half a dozen tapestries specifically commissioned for particular rooms with themes chosen by the patron. Otherwise you bought them on the second hand market. For people like the merchant adventurers they were the next best thing to ready cash. If your ship sank with a full cargo and you needed to raise funds for the next trip you flogged a tapestry or two. People like Bess might buy them for lesser rooms and add their own touches with applied embroidered patches.

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Susan, indeed, and the Gideon tapestries at Hardwick are a good example of that. They were purchased from the indebted estate of Lord Chancellor Sir Christopher Hatton. The price was £326 15s 9d, from which Bess negotiated a £5 discount because she would have to change the Hatton arms for her own. And then she saved even more money by not having the arms rewoven but simply covering them with pieces of cloth painted with her arms – the oldest trick in the book 🙂

  3. disneyrollergirl Says:

    Loving all these stories. And thank you for your comment on my site Emile!

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Glad you like them.

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