Bess of Hardwick (1521-1608)

Bess of Hardwick (c. 1580), 1521-1608, by an unknown artist. Bess of Hardwick (c. 1580), 1521-1608, by an unknown artist. Copyright National Trust, NT 1129212, Hardwick Hall.

Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, is more generally known as Bess of Hardwick. She is famous for her textiles and needlework, some of which she made herself. Her textiles include embroidered bed hangings, bedcovers, chair upholsteries, pillow covers, table covers and wall hangings.

In 1601, Bess of Hardwick ordered an inventory of her household furnishings, including the textiles, in her three properties at Chatsworth, Chelsea and Hardwick. The inventory still survives. In her will she bequeathed all of the inventory items to her heirs to be preserved in perpetuity.

The still extant, 400-year old collection is the largest assembly of sixteenth and seventeenth century embroidery, laces, tapestry and more, to have been preserved by a single, private family in England. The textiles are housed at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire (England). The collection is known as the Hardwick Hall textiles.

See also the TRC Needles entries on the portrait of Bess of Hardwick and the Tobit table carpet.

Source: LEVEY, Santina (1998). An Elizabethan Inheritance: The Hardwick Hall Textiles, London: The National Trust.

National Trust online catalogue (retrieved 30th May 2016).


Last modified on Monday, 01 May 2017 16:30

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