Sunday, September 22, 2019

Elizabeth Tudor's Gown

Last night, I found this video on YouTube.  It tells the story of the survival of one of Elizabeth I's gowns--as an altar cloth in a church in Bacton, which is a town in Herefordshire, England.

The Bacton church was the burial place of Blanche Parry, Elizabeth's Head of the Privy Chamber in Elizabeth's later years.  Parry was buried in the church.  There was a fabric used as a altar cloth, for a time.  After that the vicar ended up storing it under his bed.  Very early in the 20th century, another Bacton vicar raised the money to have the cloth professionally framed and hung on the church wall, where it remained until recently when a woman, a scholar researching Tudor fashion, saw a picture of the Bacton altar cloth on line.  She visited the church and realized that the "altar cloth" had once been a dress.  A dress made from cloth of silver--something only a queen was likely to have.

Subsequent research confirmed that it had been a Tudor period dress, probably one owned and worn by Elizabeth I.  The cloth is currently on display at Hampton Court Palace, beside the famed Rainbow portrait, which the design on the fabric strongly resembles.  Is the former altar cloth the remains of that gown?  We may never know for certain, but it's still amazing that at least the fabric of the dress remains after more than 400 years.  Those who are interested and can't make it to England or view the video can check out this web page about the fabric and the project.


  1. Ah! This is my "local" bit of historical costume. I knew about it before it got famous!

    A few corrections: Elizabeth I's Head of Privy Chamber was Blanche Parry, not Perry; Bacton is in Herefordshire not Norfolk and is a village not a town (we also don't use 'County' as part of the name or following the name of our counties in the UK, barring County Durham and some counties in Northern Ireland).

  2. I knew Elizabeth's Head of Privy Chamber was Parry; that was a typo, which I've corrected above. As for the location of Bacton, I got that from Wikipedia.,_Norfolk I saw references to Herefordshire and was trying to reconcile that with the other information. Apologies.

    1. Oh, no worries and no need to apologise. Easy mistake to make, especially if Wiki is being crap. (Incidentally, it's this Bacton not the one you link:,_Herefordshire). UK placenames are confusing!

      Bacton probably was 'Marchia Wallia' (Marcher Wales) in Elizabeth's time and was historically Welsh-speaking if you go far back enough. However, nowadays it is certainly in Herefordshire. ^_^

  3. And thanks, Miriam, for the corrections!

  4. The colours are amazing. It's incredible what people could achieve with natural dyes and only a very basic understanding of chemistry by modern standards.