Curtain (part)

ca. 1600 (made)

Unknown

Length: 23.5 cm, Width: 15.5 cm maximum

T.42-2008 T&F

Part of curtain, blue wool ground with embroidery and appliqué, ca. 1600.

Fragment of curtain of plain woven dark blue wool, with fulled surface. Decorated with applied canvaswork embroidery, couched linen cord and French knots worked with thick linen thread. The canvaswork is in the form of two interlaced bands with knots and s-shapes. Fleurs-de-lis, worked with couched cord and French knots, are attached to the bands at intervals. French knots are also used to outline the canvaswork.

This fragment is from a set of six curtains. They belonged to a bed at Belhus Park, a mansion in South Essex, that was home to the Barrett and Lennard families for nearly six hundred years, until it was demolished in 1959. In the early 17th century, Belhus belonged to Sir Edward Barrett (1581-1644), who held the offices of Ambassador to France, and Chancellor of the Exchequer. The curtains are probably of French manufacture, and may have been acquired by Sir Edward Barrett during his travel or residence in France. The technique used to decorate the curtains, embroidery and appliqué of canvas work motifs onto a wool ground, is an extremely rare survival from this date in anything more that the most fragmentary form, because of its vulnerability to insect attack, and damage through disintegration of the small applied sections.

The curtains came from Belhus Park, a mansion in South Essex, home of the Barrett and Lennard families from 1339 to 1923, demolished in 1959. In the early 17th century, Belhus was held by Sir Edward Barrett (1581-1644), 1st Lord Barrett of Newburgh, ambassador to France in 1625, and chancellor of the Exchequer 1628-9. The curtains are likely to have been used at Belhus until the 1920s, when they were probably taken to the 3rd baronet's estate in Norfolk. They were inherited by Mrs John Pollock, daughter of Sir Richard Barrett-Lennard, 5th Bt. (1898-1977). This provenance is consistent with their design and technique, as they are probably of French manufacture, and may have been acquired by Sir Edward Barrett during his travel or residence in France. Their technique of embroidery and appliqué on a wool ground is an extremely rare survival from this date in more than the most fragmentary form, because of its vulnerability, and has almost no representation in our collection, so the acquisition of a set of bed hangings is significant for us.

Given by the Rev. Dr and Mrs John Pollock

Location: In Storage

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