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Bearing cloth

Bearing cloth

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    17th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk satin with metallic lace

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Sarah Cartwright

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Bearing cloths were used for ceremonial occasions, particularly baptisms, up to the end of the 17th century. The bearing cloth would have been wrapped round the swaddled child during the procession to church but removed for the immersion of the child in the font as part of the ceremony. The cloths were generally very ornate, and therefore expensive to produce. Such a cloth would traditionally be passed down through the family, being used for sons, daughters and cousins alike, and many remained treasured family possessions. The bearing cloth was effectively replaced by the christening robe when total immersion ceased to be used, therefore allowing the child's clothing to be more decorative in itself.

Physical description

A bearing cloth that consists of two lengths of pale blue/green silk satin sewn together to form a rectangular cloth with the seam running the length of the centre. The bobbin lace forms organic designs and garland-like clusters with suggestions of flowers in gold, and a surround of a wide net silver thread bobbin lace with decorative hoops. On each end of the cloth in the centre the lace is sewn to form a small heart shape. The back of the cloth has been conserved, with a backing of pale blue/green silk sewn to protect the back of the cloth; it has been labelled by the conservator. The satin on the front is a little stained and stressed from having been folded but is otherwise in very good condition. The lace has retained its shine overall though there are some areas of tarnishing.

Place of Origin

England (made)


17th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Silk satin with metallic lace


Width: 104 cm, Length: 133 cm

Descriptive line

A bearing cloth of pale green/blue silk satin with gold and silver metallic lace borders, made in England in the 17th century


Silk; Metal thread




Children & Childhood; Children's clothes; Ceremonial objects

Production Type



Museum of Childhood

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