Elizabethan Polychrome Nightcap, c.1600

Elizabethan Polychrome Nightcap, c.1600

England

Introduction

From earliest times, the craftspeople of England had a reputation for producing embroidery of the highest standard. The earliest known European embroidery comes from England, the chasuble of St Harlindis and St Relinis at Maaseik. These Anglo-Saxon embroideries are dated to the mid-9th Century. One of the most famous embroideries in the world, the Bayeux Tapestry, is of English manufacture. The reputation of English craftspeople continued to grow until in the 13th and 14th Centuries, the English work or Opus Anglicanum had reached such heights it was used as gifts by Kings and Popes. While embroidery remained an important craft, its next great age in England was during the Elizabethan period, when embroidery was used more in domestic and secular settings than in previous times, due to the break with the Church of Rome and the rise of various Protestant systems. The history of embroidery in England was one of great heights followed by great lows. Some of the high points included: