Imported bands of decoration were sewn into small, precious items of household linen, such as cupboard cloths, small towels or coverpanes (used to cover the individual place setting at table). Here, naturalistic motifs, leaves and plant stems have been simplified to make bold patterns. [27/03/2003]
Linens with woven or embroidered decoration were owned in large quantities by wealthy households. They ranged from large linen damask tablecloths to small covers.This strip of patterned linen would have been inserted into a plain or partially embroidered linen cloth to add colour and decoration.
Ownership & Use
Tudor inventories often listed extensive holdings of 'napery', the table linen used both in such splendid ceremonies as the Lord Mayor's feast but also in private homes. While many coverpanes listed in inventories include 'red silk needleworke', it is not known for certain that this little woven band was used in a coverpane. It is possible that this band was intended to be added to an embroidered cloth or indeed that such delicate weaving was sometimes itself mistaken for embroidery and listed as such in inventories.
Materials & Making
Although it is known that silkweaving on a very limited scale was taking place in England by this time, most fine woven materials such as patterned silks, velvets or linens had to be imported. Italy was the principal producer of woven silks and silk velvets and has traditionally thought to have also produced silk-patterned linens similar to this band. However, it is now known from documents that Spain, too, produced these in some quantities.