Recreating Elizabethan embroidery from the Bacton Altar Cloth

Our partnership with the Royal School of Needlework

Our partnership with the Royal School of Needlework

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As part of The Lost Dress of Elizabeth I exhibition, Historic Royal Palaces teamed up with the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) to recreate some of the motifs from the Bacton Altar Cloth. This experimental project highlighted the skill and processes of the original Elizabethan embroiderer.

The RSN's embroiderers recreated a daffodil, a thistle, and a Tudor rose. Each motif will be displayed in the exhibition, within a circular embroidery frame that members of the public will be able to touch and examine.

Embroiderers worked to the original colours of the altar cloth, to show visitors how it would have looked some 400 years ago.

The surprisingly vibrant colours were matched to those that are still visible and un-faded on the back of the cloth.

experimental project highlighting the skill and processes of the original Elizabethan embroiderer.
experimental project highlighting the skill and processes of the original Elizabethan embroiderer.

There was an air of excitement in the studio around the working of these motifs as it allowed us to see how embroiderers of that time approached the process and got the result they did.

Royal School of Needlework embroiderers