Print this page

Coverpane

Piece of linen cloth with silk thread embroidery, which was perhaps used as a coverpane. Italy, early 16th century. Piece of linen cloth with silk thread embroidery, which was perhaps used as a coverpane. Italy, early 16th century. Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. 940-1897.

A coverpane (also written coverpaine) is a length of fine cloth that was used to cover the bread (Fr. pain), knife, salt, spoon and the trencher (together called the place setting) for the head of a household. In England coverpanes were popular during the Tudor period (1485-1603).

The coverpanes were removed once “the meale beinge placed on the table, and the lorde sett.” More detailed information is recored in a household book from 1605: “The Yoeman of the Pantrie (is instructed)... to carrie the salte with the carvinge knife, clensing knife, and forke, and them to place upon the table in dewe order, with the bread at the salte, and then to cover the breade, with a fynne square clouth of cambricke, called a coverpaine (which is to bee taken of, the meate being placede on the table, and the lorde sette) by the carver and delivered to the pantler."

Coverpanes were made of linen damask or a fine, Holland cloth (a form of fine, linen cloth), and embroidered with silk or metal threads. They could vary in size from about 110 to 160 cm in length and about 65 to 100 cm in width. The larger versions were needed to cover the tall, standing salt cellars used in this period.

Source: MITCHELL, David (1998). 'Coverpanes: their nature and use in Tudor England,' CIETA Bulletin 75, pp. 81-96.

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 19 June 2016).

GVE

Last modified on Wednesday, 15 March 2017 17:47