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Catworth Church Embroideries

Remains of early 14th century orphrey, made in England and long held in the St Leanord church in Catworth, Cambridgeshire, UK. Remains of early 14th century orphrey, made in England and long held in the St Leanord church in Catworth, Cambridgeshire, UK. Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, acc. no. 838-1902.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses various remains of a medieval orphrey, which were later used for five cushions or kneelers. These cushions derive from the St Leonard Church in Catworth, Cambridgeshire and were acquired by the Museum in 1902. The orphrey has been dated to between 1329 and 1354.

800px-ClintonArmorialsThe ground material is a silk twill damask. This fabric, it has been suggested, derives from Central or Inner Asia, and must have been extremely costly in the fourteenth century. The embroidery is worked with silver-gilt and silver thread and coloured silks with underside couching and split stitch.

Shield of arms of William de Clinton, depicted on the Catworth orphrey.

This particular piece (39 x 17 cm) consists of two smaller pieces sewn together. One of the two pieces depicts a figure, which may be that of St Edward the Confessor. He is holding a model of a church, which would be Westminster Abbey, which he founded in 1065. The smaller piece shows the shield of arms of the Clinton family (William de Clinton, 1st Earl of Huntingdon, who in 1328 married Juliana Leybourne. The shield of arms of her family is depicted on another fragment of the orphrey). William de Clinton is therefore the likely donor of the orphrey.

This piece is one of a series of five, all housed in the Victoria aand Albert Museum (acc. nos 836-1902 to 840-1902). 

Source: BROWNE, Clare, Glyn DAVIES, and M.A. MICHAEL (2016). English Medieval Embroidery: Opus Anglicanum, exhibition catalogue, London, Victoria and Albert Museum. London, pp. 7 (Catalogue number 44, pp. 188-189).

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 31 January 2017).

WV

Last modified on Wednesday, 01 February 2017 09:28