About once a year I make the trip up the M1 to Derbyshire to pay homage to one of my favourite Tudor women, the redoubtable Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury, better known as Bess of Hardwick.
Bess was a local girl from a respectable but not especially aristocratic family who made a series of four marriages, acquiring wealth and status as she went. She was famously a builder of grand houses and from her are descended several noble families.
Her life story if a magnificent tale, full of wealth, romance, intrigue and jealousy. Bess stood up to all the challenges that life threw at her. But the reason I love her so much is that on top of all that, she was an embroiderer - some of her work still exists and she also saved a large number of pre-Reformation textiles from being destroyed (although she did go in for serious up-cycling).
We're so used to stories of rich and powerful men in history, it's refreshing to visit the home of that rare thing, a rich and powerful Tudor woman...x