Hall opens envelope on royal correspondence

HUNDREDS of previously unseen letters written by Bess of Hardwick, which give an insight into Elizabethan life, will go on show in the Unsealed exhibition at Hardwick Hall near Chesterfield this Easter.

Letters in the exhibition include correspondence sent and received from dukes, spies, queens, servants, friends and lovers.

Rachel Albanese, visitor experience manager at Hardwick Hall, said: “Letters were the only form of long distance communication during the Elizabethan era.

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“So these letters were a real lifeline to Bess, allowing her to stay connected with her family, peers and court, find out about the news and of course, hear all the latest gossip.

“Most of us know Bess’s place in history, but this exhibition provides a unique opportunity to see the real woman behind the reputation.”

Other attractions set to take place when Hardwick Hall opens its doors for the new season next Wednesday include the “Magical Time Fortune Trail.”

A spokesman for the Hardwick estate said: “Eagle-eyed viewers of last year’s box office hit, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, will have noticed that Malfoy Manor was in fact Hardwick Hall, so to celebrate the National Trust is staging a host of magical activities to enchant the whole family.

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“The Duke’s room will also be transformed into a Chamber of Magic where youngsters can come and try out wands and wizard capes for size.

“The Harry Potter film has been fantastic for introducing Hardwick Hall to a new audience, so we’ve introduced this programme of magical events so that our younger – and older – Harry Potter fans can experience some of the excitement that we felt when the filming took place here.”

“Another new attraction for 2011 is the Gallop through Time tour which will allow visitors to find out more about the history of the Hardwick estate and discover plans for the new stableyard, which is set to open next year.”