Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire. 1096561 ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel.

In royal and aristocratic households the bedroom was often approached through a series of other rooms which became increasingly more private. It was mapped, to some extent, as the innermost sanctum. On the other hand, it was never completely private: servants moved freely in and out, visitors were greeted, and important meetings and matters of business performed. This picture is of Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, built by the remarkable Bess of Hardwick in the late sixteenth century. It captures the dual nature of the bedroom perfectly: to the left, the curtained bed and chest suggest the intimate and personal, while through the open door to the right glimpses of other rooms and other doors leading to this one are visible. Within the not-so-private bounds of the bedroom, the curtains around the bed could be drawn to create a further inner space.