The gardens at Hardwick are surrounded by these elegant stately walls. If you look beyond them it is possible to see the old house that Bess abandoned half way through the build in preference for her far grander Hardwick, which was created for her by a cast of thousands in only seven years
Pretty Erysimum 'Artist's Paintbox'
Tudor Herb Garden
The ground floor was for services, with pantry and kitchen on either side of the great entrance hall
Many of the embroideries, laces, and tapestries are over 400 years old. It is the largest collection of c16th and c17th textiles to have been preserved by a single English family.
The one above is at least 12 feet high - a monumental piece of appliqué embroidery c1573 being part of a set called 'Noble women and their virtues'
This grand stone stairway leads on upwards to the family rooms on the taller first floor
Entrance doorway to Bess's apartments showing
a carved stone soldier, symbolically reinforcing the real soldiers who would have rotated guard duty on the stairway landing. There is most likely some symbolic meaning to the closed and open peapods and also to the hand grenade above the soldiers head but I am not sure what.
Another long wide flight of stone stairs leads to the State Appartments where the big windows on the top landing give a contemporary appearance. On this second floor the Great Chamber is hung with tapestries and paintings, but has the most spectacular plaster frieze running around the entire room
Full of symbolism it depicts Diana, Greek Goddess of hunting who is surveying a hunting scene filled with many exotic animals that would have been unknown to the majority of people in the 1590s. Diana is an allusion to Queen Elizabeth I, notably as on the opposite wall to where Diana is sitting is a unicorn, a creature that can only be captured by one of pure heart. The frieze includes the Tudor coat of arms, another reference to Queen Elizabeth I
The Long Gallery is one of the highest and longest in England - just over half of it is shown here.
Next time Bess's final resting place