Recreating Elizabethan embroidery from the Bacton Altar Cloth

Our partnership with the Royal School of Needlework

Our partnership with the Royal School of Needlework

As part of The Lost Dress of Elizabeth I exhibition, Historic Royal Palaces teamed up with the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) to recreate some of the motifs from the Bacton Altar Cloth. This experimental project highlighted the skill and processes of the original Elizabethan embroiderer.

The RSN's embroiderers recreated a daffodil, a thistle, and a Tudor rose. Each motif will be displayed in the exhibition, within a circular embroidery frame that members of the public will be able to touch and examine.

Embroiderers worked to the original colours of the altar cloth, to show visitors how it would have looked some 400 years ago.

The surprisingly vibrant colours were matched to those that are still visible and un-faded on the back of the cloth.

experimental project highlighting the skill and processes of the original Elizabethan embroiderer.
experimental project highlighting the skill and processes of the original Elizabethan embroiderer.

There was an air of excitement in the studio around the working of these motifs as it allowed us to see how embroiderers of that time approached the process and got the result they did.

Royal School of Needlework embroiderers

Learn how to stitch a design from the Bacton Altar Cloth

Join the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace to learn how to work a design from the Bacton Altar Cloth. All day classes include a talk by Eleri Lynn, Collections Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, a private view of the exhibition, kit and an opportunity to learn how to stitch a beautiful motif under expert tutelage (spaces are limited).

Embroidered daffodil and caterpillar on a white background

Daffodil and caterpillar day class

25 October 2019

Learn to work this charming little daffodil sprig design, combining it with a cheeky caterpillar — both motifs are inspired by the Bacton Altar Cloth.

Embroidered thistle and butterfly on a white background

Thistle and butterfly day class

22 November 2019

Work this charming thistle sprig design, combining it with a delightful butterfly, inspired by the intricate design on the cloth.

Embroidered dragonfly and rose motif on a white background, inspired by the Bacton Altar Cloth

Rose and dragonfly day class

7 February 2020

Learn how to stitch a beautiful Tudor rose and a majestic dragonfly, inspired by the symbolism on the Bacton Altar Cloth.