Acquiring the tapestries
The Long Gallery never fails to impress Hardwick's visitors and the source of their awe is usually the impressive Gideon tapestries.
Although acquired second hand from the bankrupted Sir Christopher Hatton of Northampton, the tapestries fit so well, you'd think they were designed for the room itself.
A personal touch
Bess of Hardwick paid over £300 for the tapestries - an incredible amount of money at the time.
She negotiated a £5 discount because they showed Sir Christopher's crest. Bess cleverly had her embroiderers stitch a painted piece of cloth over it.
Hatton's symbol was a doe and hers was a stag, so she simply painted on the antlers.
Who was Gideon?
Gideon appears in the Bible. He was chosen by God to free the people of Israel and condemn their worship of false idols.
Unsure of God's command, Gideon requested three miracles as proof. Firstly, a sign from an angel and two more involving a fleece. He left a fleece outside and asked God to make it wet one night and dry the next.
The tapestries: conservation in action
Why are they so important?
The Gideon tapestries are of international importance, utmost rarity and form the most complete set of tapestries still surviving anywhere in the world. They remain in the house and still hang in the Long Gallery, where they were first hung over 400 years ago. They show the biblical story of Gideon in a series of 13 graphic tableaux.