Below, Bess of Hardwick, c. 1567.
From the website: "Hardwick is internationally renowned for its collections, most notably its textiles, largely sourced and collected by Bess of Hardwick in the later years of the sixteenth century. Four years after Bess moved into Hardwick she compiled a list of all the objects in the house, giving a unique insight into the furnishings of an Elizabethan house."
Below, Bess of Hardwick, c. 1567.
Below, the recently conserved 'Lucretia,' one of four Noble Women embroideries mmade for and at Hardwick. Perhaps history honors Lucretia as the inspiration for the transition from monarchy to the Roman Republic, but it took her rape and subsequent suicide to accomplish the feat. Sort of a difficult inspiration IMHO, but meaningful to history (they say). She is an important character in the writings of Livy, Ovid, Dante, and Chaucer, among others.
Below left, a photograph of rehanging the embroidery at Hardwick Hall, from the National Trust. Right, NT's photo of another of the Noble Women, 'Penelope', from The Odyssey, the faithful wife of Odysseus, a symbol of fidelity.
More from the website: "By the mid-1590s when Hardwick was taking shape, Bess had already furnished her great house at Chatsworth but could only bring a small proportion of the contents with her when she moved back to Hardwick, so in the winter of 1592-3 Bess went on a shopping spree while in London. Amongst her purchases were the Gideon set of tapestries purchased from the estate of Sir Christopher Hatton for the huge sum of £326 15s 9d (from which £5 was deducted because Bess had to change the Hatton coat of arms to her own). Below, one of the thirteen Gideon tapestries telling the story from the Old Testament Bookof Judges.
In the Long Gallery, many of the tapestries are seen behind the portrait collection.
Of the more than one hundred textiles at Hardwick Hall, my favorite also recently conserved, is the Birds with Foliage beside one of the staircases. Perhaps this is because the conservators have restored the brilliant colors of the original piece, which they discover during the process of restoration. Within the very tight stitches of the tapestry, the colors are still vivid.
In the Great High Chamber, Bess hung her purchase of the Ulysses tapestries, telling the story from Homer's The Oddyssey.
Bess also purchased a smaller set of tapestries that now hang in the Drawing Room and a set of tapestries that hang in the Green Velvet Bedroom, as below.
I wish I had more carefully noted the names of all the tapestries, but perhaps I had fallen under their spell and just gazed in appreciation. Ah, what more does one have to say than, The Lovers, below.
Next time, the last resident of Hardwick Hall, Evelyn, Duchess of Devonshire, who lived from 1890 to 1960.
Hardwick Hall on a rainy day in Derbyshire, September, 2017. Last time, I wrote about the magnificent Bess of Hardwick, who built this house beginning when she was four times widowed, at age seventy. And lived in it for 18 years until she died in 1608. It is often admired as one of the finest of the Elizabethan prodigy houses, alongside houses such as Longleat and Burghley House, below.
About Prodigy Houses, Wikipedia writes, "...there was an Elizabethan building boom, with large houses built in the most modern styles by courtiers, wealthy from acquired monastic estates, who wished to display their wealth and status. A characteristic was the large area of glass – a new feature that superseded the need for easily defended external walls and announced the owners' wealth. Hardwick Hall, for example was proverbially described as "Hardwick Hall, more glass than wall."
Among the other 'firsts' for Hardwick Hall was the knowledge of its architect, Robert Smythson, (1535 – 1614) who may have also worked on Longleat. Up to this time, houses were built by master masons and their workers, whose names were not recorded. The house was built of stone from a quarry owned by Bess, and the glass was made in her glass factory, thanks to the fortunes she acquired throughout her life and marriages.
By the time her fourth husband died, Bess had arranged the marriages of many of her children, grandchildren, stepchildren and other relatives. She was an immensely rich woman and the guardian of her granddaughter Arabella Stuart, a potential heir to the throne. She was known as a capable manager and businesswoman, a worthy companion of both the Queens she knew so well: Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots.
Above, left: The Hardwick Coat of Arms above the fireplace in the Hall, which is where the young attendants would wait to be called. On the right, decorative weapons in the Hall. Below, views of the kitchen.
Wide, tapestry-lined stairways led to the upper two floors where Bess received her guests and entertained. The booklet about the house, acquired on the site, describes Bess as formidable: “managing, acquisitive, an indefatigable collector, tough, emotional, fond of intrigue and (of) amazing vitality.”
The house is filled with portraits and precious objects including furniture such as the cabinet below.
The portrait of Arbella, left, shows her at 13 years old. Her long hair left untied means she is unmarried. The books indicate her good education and her pearls denote purity.
The cabinet, right, is a French 'du Cerceau', probably once a possession of Mary Queen of Scots, also known as the 'spice cabinet' a.k.a. a private altar for Mary.
Below, the Great High Chamber. The magnificent friezes and tapestries have faded to near monochromatic tans. The frieze represents the forest and court of the goddess Diana. This room would used to entertain guests and for dining.
After the meal, guests would go up to the roof where dessert was served in one or more of the six banqueting pavilions and the guests could stroll the roofs to "survey the Prospect." The pavilions were crowned with fretwork bearing the initias E.S. for Elizabeth Shrewsbury.
The Long Gallery is decorted with tapestries, portraits, and dcorative artwork for strollers to enjoy. One formal occasions, Bess, the Dowager Countess, would receive while sitting beneath the great canopy, impressively throne-like.
Below, two more views of the Long Gallery:
Two rooms below, are furnished as bedchambers. In the Green Velvet Room, Bess would sometimes receive her most intimate friends and family,surrounded by her magnificent and priceless tapestries.
According to the website, "This blue bed originally belonged to the wife of the 2nd earl of Devonshire, Christian Cavendish. Made of oak and hung with embroidered blue damask the back of the bed bears the coats of arms of Christian Cavendish herself plus the original year of the bed, 1629. However, it also bears a second coat of arms and the date 1852. These arms are that of the 6th Duke. Under the Duke’s instruction a matching roll of blue damask was commissioned, the original embroidery removed, re-applied to the new silk and the entire bed was rehung."
The damp weather kept us from exploring the gardens as fully as we would have wished.
Bess of Hardwick died in 1608. Her son William Cavendish, 1st Earl of Devonshire, and his family lived nearby at Chatsworth built by Bess and his father. Their descendants remain at Chatsworth today. Remarkably, as a secondary residence for the family, Hardwick retained most of its original character, much to the advantage of visitors and scholars, well maintained by the National Trust.
Next time, the Hardwick Tapestries and a modern apartment for the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire in the 1950's.
I have been to Hardwick Hall several times and find it endlessly fascinating. Below, an aerial view. Note in the lower right, the remnants of Hardwick Old Hall, which was replaced and left as a quarry for the new house; it is now protected and can be explored. This is the first of several posts to be devoted to Hardwick, its creator Bess of Hardwick, and its treasures.
Since the NT has far better photographers than I am, below is their official website picture which shows the incredible glass-adorned exterior.
One cannot write or even think about Hardwick Hall without considering the unique story of the remarkable woman who inspired its creation. Bess of Hardwick (c.1527-1608), didn’t begin Hardwick Hall until she was a fourth-time widow and had reached age 70 in 1591. But she lived until 1608 so enjoyed many years living in her spectacular new house.
Miss Elizabeth Hardwick, born in approximately 1527, was the daughter of a minor gentry family in Scarsdale, Derbyshire. Details of her early life, including her first marriage and widowhood, are scant. Her second husband was Sir William Cavendish, (c. 1505 – 1557). She became his third wife in 1547 when she was about twenty. Cavendish had a considerable fortune and served as the Treasurer of the King's Chamber in the court of the young King Edward VI. Cavendish died in 1557, during a period of unrest following the death of Edward VI. Below, Sir William about 1547.
Only three daughters of William's first wife survived infancy and none of his second wife's children lived beyond a few months. Bess and Willliam had six surviving children. The education and marriage settlements for these children occupied much of Bess's life. She and William bought the Chatsworth estate and began building the present much-remodeled house in 1553. Below, a view of a view of that house in a tapestry on view at Chatsworth House.
Below, a painting of the old Chatsworth's west front in the 17th century.
Bess and William's three sons and three daughters in turn became part of several of the great English aristocratic families. The Cavendishes became the Dukes of Devonshire, as well as being related to the Dukes of Rutland, Newcastle, Portland, Welbeck, and Bolsover.
Above, George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury, Bess's fourth husband.
After Sir William’s death (1557), Bess was a rich woman, close to many courtiers. Her third marriage was to Sir William St. Loe, a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, who had several children from a former marriage. But he died only five years later, in 1565.
Bess married George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewsbury (1528-1590), in 1567. At age 40, he was one of the richest men in the realm, owner of vast lands, coalmines, glassworks, owner of ships and many other business interests. Actually, the marriage was a triple ceremony. As the Earl married Bess, his second son married her daughter Mary, and his daughter married Bess’s eldest son Henry. Try sorting out that one a couple of generations later.
Above, Mary Queen of Scots (1642-1687). Shrewsbury had been assigned by Queen Elizabeth I to hold Mary under a sort of house arrest. He and Bess carried out this task for more thn fifteen years before Mary was removed from their care. The hosted Mary and her contingent of servants and attendents at various of his houses, including Chatsworth. Bess and Mary spent time together, both engaging in their considerable skills at needlework.
Above, Bess of Hardwick, near the time she married Shrewsbury. She was a very rich widow, much sought after by gentlemen of the court. Shrewsbury won her and added his seven children to hers. Eventually, perhaps from the pressures of the imprisonment of Mary and other political complications, Bess and George separated. He died in 1590, and Bess set about building her mansion at Hardwick Hall, below in my photo from 2017.
Next time, more about Hardwick Hall.
As the days lengthen, my thoughts turn to travel, but I'm afraid I won't get across the pond in time to catch this wonderful exhibition George IV: Art and Spectacle in the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace, which closes on May 3, 2020.
Above, George IV, When Prince of Wales, 1791 by artist George Stubbs.
The description of the exhibition says, "George IV is arguably the most magnificent British monarch ever recorded and he formed an unrivalled collection of art, much of which remains in the Royal Collection. Bringing together Dutch and Flemish masterpieces, portraits by Sir Thomas Lawrence and Sir Joshua Reynolds, delicate French porcelain, intricate goldsmiths’ work and elegant books and drawings, this exhibition will present George’s life through the art that enriched his world."
Among George's many projects was a series of paintings of representatives of the Allies in the 1815 victory at Waterloo executed by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), the finest portraitist of his day. Above, l-r: John, Count Capo d'Istria (1776-1831); Ercole, Cardinal Consalvi (1757-1824); Charles, Archduke of Austria (1771-1847); Pope PiusVII (1742-1831); Clemens Lothar Wenzel, Prince Metternich (1773-1859). When not on exhibition elsewhere, these hang in the Waterloo Gallery in Windsor Castle.
George IV was self-indulgent and a spendthrift, disliked by the people for the treatment of his family and for his excessive spending on architectural projects and his vast art collection, including paintings and sculpture, furniture, silver and ceramics, weapons and heraldic regalia, jewelry and clothing, even books. Below, a first edition of Jane Austen's Emma. By the Prince Regent's request, Miss Austen dedicated the book to him when it was published in 1816 in three volumes.
Below, the Shield of Achilles, part of a large collection of tableware and serving pieces designed by John Flaxman and created by Philip Rundle of the London goldsmith firm of Rundle, Bridge and Rundle in 1821.
In addition to the huge number of works he commissioned and/or purchased, George IV will be found in the often biting caricatures so popular in his time. Below, a typical example by Robert Seymour, The Great Joss and his Playthings, c. 1829. As in all the images above, From the Royal Collection Trust,
(c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019.
Until April 19, 2020, the Wallace Collection is presenting an Exhibition of works rarely seen in museums.
From their website: "Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company [is] guest curated by renowned writer and historian William Dalrymple. This is the first UK exhibition of works by Indian master painters commissioned by East India Company officials in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is an unprecedented opportunity to see these vivid and highly original paintings together for the first time, recognising them as among the greatest masterpieces of Indian painting."
This is an exhibit I yearn to see, but I do not expect to be in London before the show closes. Above left, English Gig c. 1840, by Sheikh Mohammah Amir, Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; right, Indian Roller on Sandalwood Branch, by Shaikh Zain ud-Din, Calcutta, 1780, Minneapolis Institute of Art
Above, English Child in a Bonnet on Horseback, by Shaikh Muhammed Amir of Karriah, c.1830-1850.
Above left: Manu Lall, Coffee, 1810; right, Brahminy Starling with Two Anterea Moths, Caterpillars and Cocoon in Indian Jujube Tree by Shaikh Zain ud-Din, 1780, Minneapolis Institute of Art; Below, Family of Ghulam Ali Khan, Six Recruits, Freer Gallery
The Wallace exhibition website states: "The exhibition honours historically overlooked artists including Shaikh Zain ud-Din, Bhawani Das, Shaikh Mohammad Amir of Karriah, Sita Ram and Ghulam Ali Khan and sheds light on a forgotten moment in Anglo-Indian history. Reflecting both the beauty of the natural world and the social reality of the time, these dazzling and often surprising artworks offer a rare glimpse of the cultural fusion between British and Indian artistic styles during this period."
A little exploration on Google will bring you several previews of the exhibition. Try
It is that extra day in February that recurs every four years. Perhaps we should start a tradition and call it FREE DAY, when we can do anything we want -- at least in our imagination.
I found the above picture on somebody's blog and I don't know where to give credit. Thank you whoever you are. I've always thought February needs all the help it can get.
Back to that "do-anything-you-desire" idea for Leap Day. What would you do? One of my instant ideas is above. In my finest habit, I would ride a spirited mare down Rotten Row in London. Based on repeating things I have already done, my choice would be either a Venetian Gondola or a sailing yacht in the Greek Islands.
Or maybe something less nautical, like a free day in the London Library (below, l)? Or the British Library (below, r)?
What would be your choice, assuming you had no restrictions for time, complications, or price? The sky is the limit. Or perhaps you had in mind another tradition associated with Leap Year.
How about a lady's Choice for a dance, a date, or even marriage? At my high school we had a Sadie Hawkins Dance every February, leap year or not, when the girls invited the guys. Sadie Hawkins is a character in Al Capp's comic strip stories of L'il Abner. But Sadie ultimately lost out to Daisy Mae. Other female choice traditions relate to St. Brigid's Complaint, an Irish legend associated with Leap Day. Altogether, these two version and others became entwined beyond my interest in untangling them. Nevertheless, you might like to fantasize about your ultimate quarry in the Leap Year/Sadie H. Day marathon. I have a couple of covers of my novels that just might do.
Click on the thumbnails above for better images. I'd take any of the above three, wouldn't you? Or, as below, some of the portraits created by Sir Thomas Lawrence, who could do as handsome a male as he could gorgeous females. Pick your prey.
Top Row, L: William Lamb, later Lord Melbourne (1779-1848); R: Henry Brougham, later Lord Brougham (1778-1868); lower row, L; Hart Davis, Jr (1791-1854). R: Sir Charles Stewart, later Lord Londonderry (1778-1854)
So with a bow towards our imaginations, contemplate your choice on Leap Day.
Scone Palace is the traditional location for the crowning of Scottish kings, including several who attempted the honor but did not achieve it. And the palace is full of legends and stories, enough to occupy many evenings of research. But since photos are not allowed inside, my account will be limited to the few I could find on line, such as the view above from wikipedia. Below, my shot, including a lonely tourist and a feeding peahen.
Moot (or Boot) Hill was the site of Pictish Scotland kings' investiture in the 3rd century. When national Scottish councils were established, they were held here. An Augustinian abbey was built in the 12th century; Scone was also the site of the first parliament. By 1600, Scone was given by James VI to Sir David Murray, later named Lord Scone and 1st Viscount Stormont.
Above, a replica of the famous adventurous Stone of Scone. It stands on Moot Hill before the Chapel, once the site of the Abbey. It is lso known as the Stone of Destiny.
I had seen the Stone of Scone in Edinburgh Castle a few days earlier, where it is displayed with the crown jewels, the Honours of Scotland. It had been returned to Scotland in 1996, after being part of the British Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey for many centuries. There is also the story about how the Stone was stolen from Westminster in 1950...as well as many other claims and legends that question the true nature and existence of the Stone. Which are authentic and which are substitutes or copies?
The Chapel was remodeled in Gothic Style for the 3rd Earl of Mansfield (1777-1840), by William Atkinson. Below, the chapel at left, and right, an Italian alabaster memorial to Sir David Murray, 1st Viscount Stormont, by sculptor Maximilian Colt, in 1618. Please click on the small photos for larger versions.
Below, sculptures on the grounds. Left, a Sword embedded in a stone, bringing to mind Excalibur. and Right, two handsome deer who seem poised to intimacy, but alas they are made of willow.
Below, one of several white peacocks roaming the grounds. Left, my view; Right, doing a better display for the Telegraph.
The Gothic door is as far as a I got with my phone camera. This version of the Palace was begun as a Regency Gothick House by Architect William Atkinson for the third Earl of Mansfield in 1803, replacing a medieval building. The interior, as portrayed by pictures from the website, is almost as perfectly Regency today as it was two hundred years ago.
Above, the Octagon Room. The guidebook says, "Past and present come together in the Octagon Room,which was formerly part of the medieval gallery and led into the King's Room where Charles II slept the night before his coronation in 1651." Only months later, Charles II was defeated by Parliamentary forces of Oliver Cromwell and forced to flee to the continent where he remained until the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Octagonal rooms were often features of Regency-era decor.
The Drawing Room boasts portraits of George III and Queen Charlotte. The 2nd Earl served as British ambassador. to France. These famous portraits were painted by artist Allan Ramsay, a Scot who was also a 2nd cousin by marriage to the 2nd Earl. At right, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, Lord Chief Justice of Great Britain (1705-1793), painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1776. He was renowned for his decisions which ended slavery in Britain.
The Ambassador's Room, above, displays furniture from the 2nd Earl's tenures in Paris and Vienna. At the upper right is the famous portrait of Dido Bell and Lady Elizabeth Murray, daughter of the 2nd Earl of Mansfield. Both young ladies lived with the 1st Earl and his wife at Kenwood House, a Murray residence at the edge of Hampstead Heath in London.
Dido's story was told, relatively accurately, by the 2013 film Belle. The portrait, once attributed to Johann Zoffany but now thought more likely to be by David Martin, hangs here because the Murrays gave up Kenwood House for continual residence at Scone in the early 20th century.
The Inner Hall displays numerous family heirlooms, perhaps most obviously two Russian bears shot by Sir Lancelot Carnegie, maternal great-grandfather of the present earl, in 1908 when he was secretary at the British Embassy in Moscow.
I would love to show you much more of this fascinating palace, but it isn't easy to find the images on line. So if I had anything to do with the marketing of tourism at Scone, I would immediately allow cameras and then rejoice as the visitors post their many pictures -- thus attracting many more. This is the policy of many wonderful castles, palaces, and manor houses all over Britain. I think they are benefiting from allowing photos. Are you listening Glamis and Scone?
Above photo from https://www.smallcitybigpersonality.co.uk/
Here we are in September, 2019, cruising the lovely blue waters of Loch Lommond. We began our adventure in Balloch, at the south end of the Loch. The begonias bloomed near the dock as if their exuberance would postpone the upcoming October chill.
Loch Lommond is long and narrow, about 22 miles in length, and varying in width from less than a half mile wide to four miles plus. The loch sits on the Highland Boundary fault, the geological dividing line between the central lowlands and the highlands. Most of the surrounding area is the Trossachs National Park.
We boarded our vessel at Sweeney's Cruises and set off for a delightful day on the water. At right below, someone forgot to tie up his sailboat adequately, certainly a marine no-no.
We encountered few others boating, though the day was perfect. Perhaps, being dutiful Scots, everyone was at work.
About a third of the way up the length of the loch, we stopped at the village of Luss, and went ashore for luncheon and to investigate the church.
We ate outside at a quaint inn and wandered the village. Please click on the thumbnails for larger versions.
On the return trip, we saw some fine country homes and more spectacular scenery.
What is more relaxing than a lovely day on the loch? Below, a painting I almost bought in the gift shop. I wish I'd shipped it home.
Next week: Scone Palace
Glamis (promouned Glams) was the childhood home of the Queen Mother and the Bowes-Lyon family, the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne. The property belonged to the Strathmore ancestors since the 14th century, through turmoil and strife. But in the 20th century, it reached the peak of distinction.
L to R: the 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, the Countess, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Prince Albert (Duke of York, later George VI), Queen Mary, King George V, on the wedding day in 1923.
Below, the wedding portrait of the Duke and Duchess of York, and a childhood picture of the Queen Mother. Remember to click on the small photos for larger versions.
Above left, a dress saved through the years and displayed with other historic clothing; right, The Duchess of York and her daughter Elizabeth, b. 1926, the future Queen Elizabeth II.
But despite the important royal connections, the stories one hears at Glamis are also about murders, witchcraft, monsters, perhaps vampires, ghosts, feuds, treason, and rebel seizures. There is also the legend of an entire family bricked up in a room and left to die.
The Crypt is in the medieval part of the castle. Below, another view of the Crypt.
Some call Glamis "the most haunted castle in Scotland," but I admit I didn't see a single spirit. Below, the Drawing Room was once the Great Hall of the medieval castle.
The Dining Room, below, is an excellent example of Victorian exuberance -- or perhaps you call it Victorian wretched excess.
The Royal Bedroom is beautiful and relatively understated.
Below, close-ups of the bed canopy and the counterpane.
Among the collection of toys and costumes was this wonderful dollhouse.
The castle is set in lovely lawns and gardens, including the memorial to Princess Margaret (1930-2002) who was born at Glamis
Here we are near Blair Castle about to venture out into the hills of the estate. Below, our intrepid adventurers, our guide with the herd, and views of the now-docile deer.
One might assume this is the Alpha Male with his young sons and daughters...but there were several with equally magnificent antlers...and they appeared to be quite peaceful with the herd, or perhaps that was just for the purposes of the hand-outs. The fence keeps them from accessing the parking lots but be assured they have thousands of acres of freedom once mealtime is over.
Above two photos from the Blair Castle website...since I forgot to photograph the vehicle and the deer were all hungry enough to stay at the fence instead of posing in the river. However, there was no shortage of material for my own camera.
Please don't forget to click the small photos to see larger versions.
At Blair-Atholl, we are on the edge of the Highlands, into the foothills of the Grampian mountains, where the sun teased us all afternoon. While long stretches seemed without animal life other than the high-flying raptors, from time to time we came across workers, both human and equine. The Highland ponies, once loosed from their duties, make their way home unaccompanied. One lone angler, whose independence we did not dare interrupt, worked the river.
In the 18th c., the Atholl Estates held 350,000 acres; since post-WWII sales of land, they now hold about 145,000 acres. Here and there we encountered some Highland Sheep, sturdy fellows well adapted to the stern hills.
The Highland Safari was truly a unique experience. It might provide a clue to the eternal strength of the Scots, their fierceness in battle, and their appreciation of beauty.
Next, the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lommond.
Victoria Hinshaw, Author