Great Royal Seal Bag of Edward I (1239-1307)

Royal seal bag for a seal of King Edward I. Royal seal bag for a seal of King Edward I. Courtesy Westminster Abbey, acc. no. WAM 1494*.

The Muniment Room in Westminster Abbey houses a royal seal bag that is attached to a document dated to 26 November 1280, and used to protect a wax impression of the Great Seal of King Edward I of England (1239-1307, he reigned from 1272) The seal bag is made of wool with a linen lining, intarsia (inlaid) appliqué (with motifs surrounded by laid linen cord) for the main designs, and silk thread embroidery for the details. The embroidery is worked in split stitch.

The main designs, worked on both sides, show the arms of the English kings (three lions), worked in yellow on a red shield. It is surrounded with a scrolling design of vines and trefoils.

The intersia applique consists of the yellow lions, inserted into the red fabric of the shield, which in its turn was inserted into the green ground material. This technique is said to have been particularly popular in contemporary Scandinavia, and may be identified with the opus consutum mentioned in thirteenth century sources.

The document confirms a decision by Henry III (the father of Edward I) to grant possessions and privileges to Westminster Abbey. 

See also the Great Seal bag of Edward III.


  • BROWNE, Clare, Glyn DAVIES, and M.A. MICHAEL (2016). English Medieval Embroidery: Opus Anglicanum, exhibition catalogue, London, Victoria and Albert Museum. London, pp. 8, 106. Catalogue no. 24 (p. 151)
  • PRITCHARD, Frances (1989). 'Two royal seal bags from Westminster Abbey', Textile History 20, no. 2 (1989), pp. 225-34.

Historical Needlework Resources online catalogue (retrieved 31 January 2017).



Last modified on Wednesday, 01 February 2017 18:13
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