What to do with the queen’s old clothes


A piece of cloth thought to have come from a skirt worn by Queen Elizabeth I has been found in a church in Herefordshire, England. The Telegraph explains:

Eleri Lynn, curator of historic dress at Historic Royal Palaces (HRP), first discovered the cloth hanging on a wall in the 13th-century church of St Faith, Bacton, last year.

She said: “When I saw it for the first time I knew immediately that it was something special. As I examined it, I felt as though I had found the Holy Grail, the Mona Lisa of fashion. None of Elizabeth I’s dresses are known to have survived, but everything we have learnt since then points to it being worn by Elizabeth.”

Clothing of that era was routinely passed down or reused as cloth for other purposes. As a result, HRP has little royal garb from before the English Civil War. During the Protectorate, Lynn says, Oliver Cromwell sold much of what did remain.

It was while researching a blog on Welsh connections to the Tudor court that Ms Lynn came across the Bacton altar cloth and paid a visit to the church.

She said the embroidered design, featuring roses, daffodils and other flowers, was typical of the late 16th century, and noticed straight away that it was made from cloth of silver, which, under Tudor sumptuary law, could only be worn by the monarch or immediate members of the royal family.

The connection to St Faith’s made sense because its parishioners included Blanche Parry, Elizabeth’s favourite lady-in-waiting, to whom she is known to have given clothes.

Blanche Parry’s monument at St Faith, Bacton. Photograph: Terry Richardson, www.blancheparry.com

According to a website dedicated to Blanche Parry, the lady commissioned a monument at the church depicting her service to the Queen.

St Faith’s has loaned the altar cloth to HRP, which is working to undo Edwardian renovations as part of its own restoration efforts. The cloth will then be displayed at Hampton Court Palace.

Read the story at the Telegraph, here.

Featured image: The Elizabethan altar cloth at St Faith’s, Bacton. Photo: Terry Richardson, www.blancheparry.com


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Kathy Franklin
Kathy Franklin

I know that when I was Altar Guild Directress in my parish, nothing of any value at all was discarded. Most of our items are blessed, which makes it easy to put the older, less-used linens and hollow ware to the back of the storage area or drawer. Imagine what we all might find if we made a proper inventory of the sacristy!

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