Rare Elizabeth I Dress Inspired Day Classes

2nd October, 2019

We were very excited to hear about the discovery of the Bacton Altar Frontal and its arrival to Hampton Court Palace.  This is a richly embroidered altar cloth that had been preserved for centuries in a small rural church in Bacton, Herefordshire and only recently identified by experts as a piece of 16th century dress which belonged to Queen Elizabeth I.

This special Cloth will be on display in a new exhibition ‘The Lost Dress of Elizabeth I’ at Hampton Court Palace from 12 October – 23 February and we are delighted to announce that we are running three exclusive Day Classes inspired by this unique piece.

The RSN Day Classes will take place at Hampton Court Palace on Friday 25 October, Friday 22 November and Friday 7 February. The designs have been inspired by three motifs in the Bacton Altar Cloth – a Daffodil, Thistle and Rose.  Classes begin with an exclusive visit to see the Exhibition before the Palace opens where you will receive a short talk from Eleri Lynn, Curator of Historical Dress for Historical Royal Palaces, who discovered this amazing treasure.  Eleri will talk about the frontal and the accompanying exhibits. Then students will come to the RSN to stitch these unique designs using the same Elizabethan techniques that produced this extraordinary piece.  Places are limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

The History of the Bacton Cloth 

The altar cloth was found hanging in a glass case in St Faith’s Church, Bacton, having been retired as an altar cloth over a hundred years ago. Bacton was the birthplace of one of Elizabeth I’s most faithful servants, Blanche Parry, who began her 57 year service supervising the royal cradle rockers, and died as her Chief Gentlewoman of the Bedchamber. It is believed that the altar cloth was given to the church by or in memory of Blanche Parry.

It is also known that the Queen would give Blanche her clothes and this piece of embroidery has motifs typical to the designs of the late 16th century and has a close resemblance to the bodice that can be seen in ‘The Rainbow’ portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, c.1600.

We have been working with Historic Royal Palaces to help bring the embroidery of this wonderful piece to life for visitors to the exhibition.  We have produced three new samples of embroidery worked in the same techniques as the original, and using fabric and threads as near as possible to the original.  These samples have been produced to allow visitors to get up close to the techniques and stitches used in the historic altar cloth.  The three motifs chosen for the samples, Daffodil, Rose and Thistle, are also the inspiration for our special Bacton Cloth inspired Day Classes.

More information on our Bacton Cloth Day Classes and other Historical Stitch themed Classes

More information on the Bacton Altar Cloth Exhibition at Hampton Court Palace exhibition