National Trust has launched a campiagn to secure funds to conserve three remaining Gideon Tapestries at Hardwick Hall. Help us to raise £5000 to interpret the conservation work of the Tapestries.
The Gideon Tapestries were created over 400 years ago and are believed to be the design of Flemish painter, Michiel van Cocxie. Today, housed in the magnificent surroundings of Hardwick Hall, this collection of 13 tapestries, shows the story of Gideon and his triumph over the Midianites are. They were made in 1578 for Lord Chancellor of the time, Sir Christopher Hatton, for display in his home in Northamptonshire, and it was on his death that they were bought by Elizabeth Shrewsbury (better known as Bess of Hardwick) to be put on show at Hardwick.
It was back in 1592 that Bess of Hardwick negotiated a hard bargain to buy the Gideon Tapestries for her new home. So enamoured was she by these vibrant and dramatic biblical scenes that during the building of her palatial Hardwick Hall she had the magnificent Long Gallery specifically designed to showcase these works of art. Now, they are of national and international importance and are the only complete set of Gideon Tapestries to survive.
Over the last four centuries the tapestries have weathered serious damage from pollution, in particular from the dust from the once thriving neighboring coal mines. Coal dust seeping through the Hall’s large windows has damaged the neatly woven silk and wool thread and the bright daylight has discoloured its vibrancy.
While work has been carried out to ten of the tapestries, three still need desperate attention. Conservation can take up to a year to complete. Scaffolding is needed to remove the tapestries from their hangings; a delicate job given their fragile state, they are then transported to Belgium for specialist cleaning. They are then sent to the National Trust Textile Studios at Blickling for repair and finally they are returned to Hardwick to be re hung in the Long Gallery. Because of the size of the tapestries, it can cost up to £150k for conservation.
We hope to raise £5,000 to provide interpretation for the tapestries showing the conservation process and raise awareness of the delicate and precious nature of the textiles and the need to protect them for the nation.