Gideon tapestry project at Hardwick Hall
Hardwick Hall is renowned for its textiles, including an extensive collection of tapestries. This week, the 13th and final Elizabethan Gideon Tapestry was returned home, signalling the end of the National Trust's longest running conservation project at over 24years.
Brought to the hall after Bess of Hardwick went on a shopping spree in 1592/3 in London, the set of 13 Gideon tapestries line the Hall’s Long Gallery and portray the biblical story of Gideon.
Conservation in action
The conservation of each Gideon tapestry cost £278,000, with a project total of £1.7million. Each tapestry took over two years to complete extensive repairs and stabilisation work. The final tapestry now hanging proudly in the Long Gallery took over 5,470 hours of conservation stitching, lining and reocnstruction.
Now, this cinematic set of tapestries are reunited together for the first time in over two decades.
Each tapestry was taken to the National Trust's Conservation Studio in Norfolk. The process began with sending each tapestry to Belgium for specialist cleaning. Once back at the Studio, the team completed painstaking work to repair tears and replace stitches where possible, all by hand.
Rehanging involved the use of scaffolding due to the sheer size of each one (approximately 7m x 6m). Each tapestry was on a roll which was raised vertically and then unrolled from one side of the wall to the other. The top of each tapestry was secured with Velcro to two wooden battens fixed on the wall. The tapestries are left for at least two years without portraits hung over, to allow them to be seen in all their glory, as originally intended.
Caring for our fragile textiles
Keeping the textiles at Hardwick in the best condition involves:
- Keeping them safe from light, heat and visitors' fingers
- Delicately cleaning them with goat hair brushes and a museum vacuum
- Having them surveyed and get regular condition reports
Read how wealth, power and ambition drove Bess of Hardwick to build her grand design, filled with a treasure trove of fine furnishings that can still be seen at the Hall today.
Discover an internationally-renowned collection of textiles including exquisite tapestries and embroidery and learn about the art of up-cycling, Elizabethan style. Find out more about Bess of Hardwick who largely sourced and collected the textile treasures.
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