My partner Mark and myself chose Aston Hall in Birmingham as it was a historic house. I therefore hoped there would be lots of interesting textiles to see. Unfortunately the majority of them, were away at the cleaners, so I had to satisfy a need for texture, by photographing architecture within the house.
the only textile in the building, unfortunately couldn’t get to close to see detail.
plaster ceiling showed some interesting patterns.
Oak cabinet which could be utilised within my work
The facade of the building, although this was just one part of it.
I do enjoy looking at architecture. Old buildings tend to have some interesting patterns, which could be used for mark making and possible printing. All in all, whilst there were no textiles, it was a very interesting building.
I recently visited Sudeley castle where there was an exhibition The Threads of Time with over 400 years of textile techniques.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to take any photographs. It was such a shame because some of the embroidery was so fine. This was due to copyright protection. There were hundreds of samplers, which was an important part of a girl’s education, which showed varying techniques, thread or colour combination and was a stitch reference for future work. In the past there was nothing to refer to, apart from samplers from family members or religious embroidery. The samples also showed regional craftwork. There was also commemorative work, indicating births or such events. Samplers usually took two forms in the 16th century, random placing of embroidery and then more ordered design. Initialled work was commonplace, but rarely full names. There were many examples of this work. There were various base fabrics, silk, linen, or cotton.
One piece that was exquisite was the expulsion of paradise
There were many examples of embroidered clothing, from christening gowns to wedding dresses. All demonstrated varied stitch work. There were various collections of ecclesiastical work, where gold work is dominant. This showed how influential the church was at this time. Other gold work pieces were from the royal household.
Anne Boleyn was believed to have made the lace dress for the christening of Elizabeth 1, called the Boleyn Falcon (unable to load the picture)
An example of medieval embroidery made during Charles II reign is a 17th century casket, using stumpwork techniques.
Picture courtesy of Sudeley castle website
The christening gown above was found at Sudeley castle in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire. It was worn by Elizabeth 1 and has been authenticated by the V & A museum and is on display at the castle.
There was an exhibition of Henry VIII and his 6 wives at the castle. The costumes were replicas not period fashion. It gave an indication of fabrics and surface design used. The costumes came from the TV series ‘The six wives of Henry VIII’ by Dr David Starkey. They were designed by John Bloomfield, costume designer and actor.
The rest of the house had original period furnishings, from various eras of history. Some were ornate and some were simpler designs, but all historically important.
This is a replica lace bonnet from the Tudor times I bought from Sudeley.
I find it difficult getting to some exhibitions, also at this time of year a lot of the historical houses is closed. So have decided to research online exhibitions, hving recently come across Threads of feeling, and was so touched by the reason behind the 17th century collection.
Like with many babies in years gone by, they were ‘abandoned’ for one reason or another. Either couldn’t afford to look after them, or social stigma. For whatever reason during 1741 and 1760, mothers would leave their baby in the care of the Foundling Hospital. However they either left a token of fabric or nurses cut the fabric from the child’s clothing to identify the child, should the mother be in a position to collect them.
These were in turn attached to any records regarding the child and stored away. Some mothers did return for their children when they were in a position to care for them, but sadly many did not.
Examples of fabrics taken from mothers and childs clothing
It is the biggest collection surviving from 18th century Britain of textiles used by everyday folk.
The textiles give an insight into the lives of the mothers, whether they were rich or poor. How women used worn fabrics to make children’s clothing.
Some of the fabrics had descriptions of the mothers; others had prayers, all very personal and quite heartrending.