Today was lovely and sunny and I had pre-booked tickets for Hardwick Hall which is literally just up the road. I have been before but wanted to return as I love it and the history fascinates me. Bess of Hardwick was married four times, each marriage more fortuitous than the last. She amassed great land and wealth and was the richest woman in England after Queen Elizabeth I. Her son William Cavendish became Duke of Devonshire (Chatsworth House and Bolton Abbey) and her last husband, George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, was jailor to Mary Queen of Scots for 15 years.
If you want to find out more about her history Bess of Hardwick by Mary S Lovell is a good read and she also features in Mary Queen of Scots by John Guy.
The house has beautiful paintings and tapestries, including the famous Gideon Tapestries which have hung there since Bess acquired them in 1592. The one in the photograph has only just been re-hung following conservation work.
Excuse all the photographs of the staircase but I have never seen one quite like it inside a house. It must be 12 foot wide, made of stone and curves round at the top.