THE LOST DRESS OF ELIZABETH I

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Dear Readers

I was very interested to view an article from Ian Visits Blog today on my device sat up in bed with my morning tea.

The Cloth of Silver was found having been used as an altar cloth until the early 20th C on a wall in a damp wooden frame in a tiny hamlet church in Bacton close to the Welsh Border. This had also been close to the home of Blanche Parry who spent her entire life in the Elizabethan Court and was a close friend and confidante of the Queen.

“This is a silk fabric of exceptional quality that then had very fine strands of thinly beaten silver woven into the fabric itself. so exceptionally expensive was this that not only were Monarchs the few who could afford it, King Henry VII banned anyone else from wearing it.”

They don’t know who did the embroidery direct onto the silver but it must have been a master craftsman.

I therefore wanted to put it out there that on my own family research, the Sheldon’s were master weavers of the time and their work is still seen on walls of stately homes and in the V&A.

The head of the workshop was a Flemish artisan of the time who worked for Elizabeth I as an arras-maker. According to the Sheldon Chronicles their work was:

“Made from only the finest materials – silk, wool, silver and silver-gilt thread – Sheldon Tapestries featured as wall hangings, cushion covers and bed valances, but were also sold as simpler, more personal items such as book covers, pin cushions and gloves.”

William Sheldon [b.c. 1500] employed a Richard Hykes, and as the Sheldon Chronicles continue to say:

“Hyckes, or Heekes as he is refered to in William Sheldon’s will – a massive document that in translation runs to 34 A4 pages and to close on 18,000 words – subsequently became the Queen’s arrasmaker, overseeing the repairing and replacement of Royal tapestries and other fabrics at Elizabeth’s six palaces dotted around London, namely Whitehall, Hampton Court, Greenwich, Richmond, St James and Windsor Castle.”

William Sheldon of Beoley, Worcestershire had been the lawyer to Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife who survived him along with Anne of Cleves. He was a very wealthy landowner and carried on the family tradition of weaving/tapestry weaving started in the 15th C.

As Flemish born Richard Hyckes had been the Queen’s arras maker and overseen the repair and replacement of ‘other fabrics’ could he have been one of the candidates who would have been the “master craftsman?”

An interesting thought ….

Claire Lydia Ray

References

https://www.ianvisits.co.uk/blog/2019/10/01/the-lost-dress-of-elizabeth-i-revealed
http://collections.vam.ac.uk/name/sheldon-tapestry-workshops/A9219/
https://thesheldonchronicles.net/the-sheldon-tapestries/

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