Bess: One of Elizabethan England's most powerful women
The Countess of Shrewsbury, better known as Bess of Hardwick was a formidable lady. As part of our focus this year on woman and power, we consider Bess' status attributed to her wealth in a new exhibition.
Through graphics, video and hands-on displays you can discover more about how Bess rose through the ranks, what a savvy business woman she was and what her money was able to buy.
A journey well-travelled
In Elizabethan England money equalled power. Through her four marriages, coupled with her astute business and political sense Bess accumulated great wealth and came to be one of the most powerful women in the land.
More than a home
The very fact that Hardwick was built is a sure sign of Bess' wealth, power and ambition. The audacious architectural design and materials used, alongside the lavish interior, were chosen by Bess to impress, and they continue to do so today.
Read about the lengths Bess went to in sourcing the finest materials and take a closer look at some of these.
The house was filled with splendid tapestries, fine furniture and grand portraits many of which survive and can be seen today as you tour through the house.
A display of miniature replicas of some of Hardwick's furniture by the late Ivan Turner highlight some of the splendid pieces with demonstrate the wealth and richness of the house and Bess.
One such piece of furniture that came to Bess was the seadog table, an intricately carved banqueting table. Normally seen in the State Withdrawing Room, a new display on the ground floor is the chance to see this important part of the collection in more detail. You can learn more about its construction and what it was used for, as well as handle some specially 3D printed replicas taken from scans of the table.