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Material Power: Let The Textiles Do The Talking photo

Material Power: Let The Textiles Do The Talking

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National Trust

  • 30 September 2024
  • 10:0014:30
  • £1.70
  • Ages 0 – 18 years


Elizabethan England was a material world. Power, identity and virtue were all expressed though what you owned and what you built.

Elizabeth Shrewsbury designed Hardwick Hall to shout about who she was and how far she had come. From the solid stone ES initials on the roof to the magnificent tapestries and textiles she hung inside, everything was a material statement about Bess.

The stories on the wall:

Tapestries and textiles were more than just interior decoration, they were a form of art used to make a statement. Their size, expensive materials and the stories they told made them the perfect medium to publicly project the power and status of the owner.

Discover the symbolism and hidden meaning in the images and stories which don the 400- year-old walls. See if you can spot Bess’ devotion to Penelope throughout the hall, a beacon of virtue dedicated to her husband.


It took 24 years for the 13 Gideon tapestries to go through cleaning and conservation and a whopping £1.7 million to restore them back to their full glory.

Find out more about the painstaking work of the specialist cleaning team in Belgium and the people behind the hand stitched repairs at the National Trust’s Conservation Studio.

Taking in the tapestries:

Let the textiles do the talking in the Long Gallery as you uncover new stories in the Gideon tapestries through ‘slow looking’. Accompanied by a magnificent soundscape, this really will be a treat for the senses!


  • Hardwick Street
  • Chesterfield
  • Derbyshire
  • S41
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Nearest stations

  • Chesterfield (0.42 miles)
    • National Rail line National Rail

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