While Queen Elizabeth I is one of the best-known monarchs in British history, very little remains of her wardrobe. But this fall, a piece of her only-known remaining dress is set to go on display at Hampton Court Palace.
The embroidered silk, which features gold and silver thread, had been preserved as an altar cloth for centuries in Herefordshire, and it is believed to have come to the town of Bacton by way of Elizabeth I's close associate Blanche Parry.
“When I saw it for the first time I knew immediately that it was something special. As I examined it, I felt as though I had found the Holy Grail, the Mona Lisa of fashion,” curator Eleri Lynn told Gordon Rayner for The Telegraph, at the time of the discovery in 2017.
“None of Elizabeth I’s dresses are known to have survived, but everything we have learnt since then points to it being worn by Elizabeth.”
Now, after more than a thousand hours of conservation work, the piece is ready for its public debut, and it will be displayed alongside the Rainbow Portrait (top), which shows the Queen in an ensemble quite similar to the silk cloth.
"To have an item of Tudor dress with such a close link to Queen Elizabeth I is extraordinarily rare," says collections curator Eleri Lynn.
"We are very excited to display the Bacton Altar Cloth next to the legendary Rainbow Portrait, with its prominent similarities to the fabric of the cloth itself."
The piece will be on display at Hampton Court Palace from October 12 through February 23, 2020. Tickets for adults that include a donation, are priced at £23.50, and there are discounts available for students, seniors, children, and families. For more information on how to plan your trip, visit hrp.org.uk.
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