Skip to content
Skip to content

Material Power: Let the textiles do the talking

A celebration of tapestry, embroidery and appliqué. Discover how Bess of Hardwick’s exquisite textile collection tells her story.

  • Booking not needed
  • Free event (admission applies)

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!



Event ticket prices

This event is free, but normal admission charges apply for the venue.

Check admission prices

The basics

Booking details

Call 01246 850430


Children welcome

Meeting point

This display will in the hall only, across the Museum Rooms, the High Great Chamber and the Long Gallery.


The displays in the Museum Rooms of the Hall are on the ground floor and will be fully accessible. Please note that to view the upper floors of the hall, there is no lift available and is only accessible by stairs.


Please note that last entry to the hall is at 2.45pm.

Upcoming events


Discover Hardwick Walk 

Fully accessible guided group walk in the grounds of Hardwick Hall's most iconic buildings.

Event summary

17 Apr to 29 May 2024
13:30 to 15:00
+ 6 other dates or times

The Wider Estate Group Walk 

Explore the wider estate with our longest group walk yet! Think you can take on the 7 mile challenge?