Medieval tapestries return to Chatsworth House after 60 years

image copyrightIndia Hobson/Haarkon
image captionThe tapestries can be seen in the Sculpture Gallery until January 2022

Two tapestries depicting medieval hunting scenes are back at a stately home after more than 60 years away.

The Devonshire Hunting Tapestries, which are almost 600 years old, will go on display as Derbyshire's Chatsworth House reopens to visitors on Tuesday.

They were accepted by the government in the 1950s in lieu of tax payable on the 10th Duke of Devonshire's estate and have been housed at the V&A Museum.

Today's Duke of Devonshire said it was "a great privilege" to have them back.

image copyrightIndia Hobson/Haarkon
image captionThe pieces show men and women hunting

The tapestries depict medieval scenes of elaborately dressed noblemen and women hunting in imaginary landscapes.

They are believed to have been made in Arras, France, between 1425 and 1450 and are the only great 15th Century hunting tapestries to survive, according to Chatsworth House.

They had belonged to the Devonshire family for more than 500 years before they were allocated to the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum in London.

'Most important objects'

Since then, they have been on display in the museum's Tapestry Gallery.

A spokeswoman for the museum said: "The monumental Devonshire Hunting Tapestries are some of the most important objects in the V&A's collection.

"We are lending two of the tapestries from the series to Chatsworth House for their special temporary display.

"The V&A is dedicated to sharing its national collections across the UK and around the world - and the loan to Chatsworth House for this special display is a part of this."

image copyrightIndia Hobson/Haarkon
image captionThe Duke of Devonshire said the tapestries had "been superbly looked after"

The pieces will hang on the walls of the Sculpture Gallery until 8 January and form part of the estate's new Life Stories exhibition, which shares the lives of people associated with Chatsworth.

The Duke of Devonshire said: "It is a great privilege to welcome these tapestries back to Chatsworth.

"They had been part of the collection for very many years until they were given in partial lieu of death duties in the 1950s.

"Since then they have been superbly looked after at the V&A Museum and we are delighted that they are allowing us to enjoy them here in Derbyshire once again for a few months."

image copyrightChatsworth House Trust
image captionChatsworth House has been closed to visitors for six months due to Covid restrictions

Tapestries were costly objects in the Middle Ages and therefore only owned by the wealthiest families to transform the walls of cold and draughty mansions and castles.

Chatsworth House has been closed for more than six months while the gardens and farmyard have seen a phased reopening in recent months in line with government guidelines.

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