Exploring Tudor Embroidery
Professional Tudor Embroidery:
Investigation and Re-Creation
To broaden and deepen understanding of Tudor embroidery, and of those who practised the profession,
through researching and re-creating examples of embroidery produced during the years 1485 to 1603.
This three-year project seeks to broaden the conventional narrative of Tudor embroidery, and of those who practised the profession, by recognizing their contributions to the material culture of early modern England. The project has three distinct yet ultimately interrelated components, to be investigated concurrently: the study of extant objects; the examination of contemporary visual media and documentary resources; and the re-creation of embroidered textiles using appropriate materials and techniques. This novel approach will incorporate the experiential approach to the study of the historic craft with the conventional academic disciplines of art, social and fashion history providing a unique insight into the occupation of professional embroiderer and the impact of this textile craft on Tudor society.
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This project is made possible by a Society of Antiquaries of London Janet Arnold Award.
The Broderers' Crown Project
Articles on the subject of the Broderers' Crown have been published in
Inspirations Magazine, Issue 105, February 2020 and
Medieval Clothing and Textile, #16, April 2020, published by Boydell and Brewer.
During the late middle ages, the election of many City of London Livery Company officials was a yearly event. Celebrated with considerable formality, each Company developed their own customs, often including the use of a garland or crown. Very early garlands were made yearly of flowers or herbs. The Broderers’ Crown, still in the possession of the Broderers’ and dating from the late 16th century, is unique and illustrates the highest level of skill practiced by the professional Tudor embroiderer.
The Broderers’ Crown is a rare example of the important and intricate work of the professional embroiderer of the sixteenth-century. Research into the traditional use of the livery crown or garland has established the significance of the Broderers’ Crown as a visual reminder of the important role embroidery played in the material culture of the 16th century. The unique floral design, intricacy of technique and the quality of the materials, all indicate that the Broderers’ Company was committed to maintaining a high level of workmanship. The office of master of the Broderers’ Company held significant responsibilities, and the wearing of the embroidered garland was designed to encourage respect for the office and pride of the profession.
Reconstruction of this significant artifact has reaffirmed the high level of technical skill and creativity required for the vast quantities of embroidery demanded by an ever increasing clientele. The resulting documentation of the techniques and materials provides additional information to aid in the identification of embroidery work of the Tudor period.
The reconstruction has been made possible by a 2017 Janet Arnold Award from the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Professional Development Award 2016 from the Textile Society, UK.
Images of the Broderers’ Crowns appear with the permission of The Broderers’ Company and the Society of Antiquaries of London. ©2018 C. Jackson.
Broderers’ Crown, second half of the sixteenth-century
Reconstructed Broderers’ Crown
1495 Contract for Embroidered Vestments
A copy of a formal agreement between Sir Robert Clere and William Morton, offers a rare insight into the making of a set of late fifteenth-century vestments. The contract is included in the Townshend family papers in the British Library, Add MS 41305, fols 35v, 36. The document provides details of the materials, costs, the motifs and the time frame within which the vestments were to be produced. This project investigated the individuals mentioned in the agreement, the significance of the symbols and images chosen, and the possible motives behind the contract phraseology.
Although the vestments no longer exist, parallels for the designs and techniques among extant examples were used to re-create their possible appearance. For more information see ‘Powdered with Armes Ymages and Angels’: An Early Tudor Contract for Embroidered Vestments, Antiquaries Journal, Volume 96, September 2016 , pp. 143-167https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antiquaries-journal