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The Emblems

Queen Anne's Throne Canopy Conservation

Date: 23 August 2016

Author: Viola Nicastro and Kaori Motaung

These beautiful, individually made embroideries were worked in gold and silver thread over three hundred years ago. The intricate designs of roses, thistles, harps, crowns and lions symbolised the newly formed kingdom of Great Britain in 1707 and highlighted the royal connection of the throne canopy’s former owner, Ambassador Townshend.

Conservation of the Throne Canopy, 2016-The front valance before conservation.

Image: The front valance before conservation © Historic Royal Palaces

The silk of the outer valances has been damaged by light over the years.  In order to conserve these, we needed to remove the emblems in the same way that we did for the cloth of state. 

Our main challenge was to secure the loosely hanging metal and silk threads which we encased in a fine net, painted beforehand to subtlety enhance the original detail – as textile conservators, it is important for us to consider how to strengthen and stabilise an object as well as how to preserve its original appearance.

On the front valance you can admire the whole set of emblems but unfortunately two have been lost from the sides; a rose and a crown. After discussion with the project curators about how this should be displayed, we commissioned a set of replicas which will enable our visitors to see the canopy in all its former glory.

A specialist embroiderer was appointed to study the originals and recreate them using traditional techniques. Watch the video at the end of the post to learn more about the process of constructing the replicas and conserving the emblems.

Once the original emblems were conserved and the replicas delivered they were reattached to the valances, now packed away until next year when the throne canopy will be installed at Kensington Palace.

Conservation of the Throne Canopy, 2016-Reattaching the emblems to the valance.

Image: Reattaching the emblems to the valance © Historic Royal Palaces

In our next post: We test a life-size mock-up of the throne canopy at Kensington Palace – all in a day’s work!

Viola Nicastro and Kaori Motaung
Textile Conservators

Acquired with the assistance of the Art Fund. Conserved with assistance from Lord Barnby’s Foundation, Idlewild Trust, The Radcliffe Trust, The Leche trust, Broadley Charitable Trust and the Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers alias Wire Workers. We are grateful for their support.

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As we get closer to the installation date, our current priority is to ensure that all the hanging textiles - the seven valances and cloth of state - will be safely and securely attached for display.

A Project To Dye For! Queen Anne's Throne Canopy Conservation

20 September 2016

It has been a time consuming process dyeing the support fabrics, net, ribbons and threads needed in the conservation of the throne canopy - 42 individual materials have been dyed to date! This requires accurate measurement, a steady hand, and above all, a meticulous eye for colour.

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