23 MAY 2019: Following a three-year conservation project by Historic Royal Palaces, the stunning “Bacton Altar Cloth” will go on display at Elizabeth I’s former home, Hampton Court Palace, alongside the iconic “Rainbow” portrait in which it may once have featured. Opening on 12 October, this exhibition is included in palace admission.

The richly embroidered textile, named after the church in Bacton, Herefordshire, where it was preserved for centuries, was identified by Historic Royal Palaces’ curator Eleri Lynn in 2016. The fabric was quickly established as being part of a high status sixteenth-century court dress, making it one of the rarest survivals of Elizabethan dress in existence. The altar cloth has long been associated with Blanche Parry, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s most faithful servants and who was often gifted clothing from the Queen.

After significant examination by conservationists at Hampton Court Palace, it became evident that the fabric had once formed part of a skirt belonging to the Tudor Queen. With high-status silver chamblet silk, the professional embroidery, including real gold and silver thread and the distinct pattern-cutting - all signal that the cloth could have formed part of Elizabeth I’s lavish wardrobe.

Displayed alongside the altar cloth will be the iconic Rainbow Portrait (c.1600-02), on loan from Hatfield House. The portrait depicts the Queen wearing a gown that bears a resemblance to the altar cloth. The portrait, attributed to Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, was commissioned by Robert Cecil and is filled with symbolism including motifs of eyes and ears.

The exhibition will also feature a selection of rare domestic print books dating from the Tudor period. Such books would have provided inspiration for many of the embroidered motifs fashionable during Elizabeth I’s reign, including those found on the Bacton Altar Cloth.

Visitors will discover the Virgin Queen’s now iconic style, with the exhibition exploring; the artistry and majesty of the Tudor wardrobe, Elizabeth’s inner-circle of women and how embroidery served as a way of female bonding at court. Visitors will also gain a fascinating insight into the world of secret symbols and Elizabethan codes.

The Bacton Altar Cloth will be on display from 12 October 2019 until 23 February 2020 and will be included in palace admission.

Agency Voucher Scheme account holders can book tickets via the Historic Royal Palaces B2B portal. Group organisers can book Hampton Court Palace admission tickets online at hrp.org.uk. Group prices apply to bookings of 15 tickets or more.

For more information and images, please contact groupsandtraveltrade@hrp.org.uk.

email icon facebook logo twitter logo
comments powered by Disqus