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The Fayrey Pall

  • Object:

    Funeral pall

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1470-1530 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    cut and uncut silk velvet, embroidered with silk and metallic threads, edged with metallic fringe

  • Credit Line:

    Lent by Rector and Churchwardens of the Priory Church of St. Peter, Dunstable

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 58, case 4

Physical description

Red velvet funeral pall. The horizontal plane is made of cut and uncut velvet with gold ground; the sides are embroidered with applique figures.

The central panel of cloth of gold, with woven pattern of a wavy stem with conventional flowers and leaves, in red velvet pile of two heights, with gold loops. The four side-panels are of violet velvet, embroidered. In the centre of each of the four panels is the figure of St. John the Baptist preaching. On the two short side-panels his auditors are two kneeling figures, identified by inscribed scrolls as iohn ffayrey and mary ffayrey; two bales bear a merchant's mark and initials 'I.F.' On the two long side panels the audience consists of two groups, one of fourteen men and the other of fourteen women, all standing; the foremost figures of each group are identified by inscribed scrolls as henry ffayrey and agnes ffayrey. The four shields bear the arms of the Merchants of the Staple (with lion), Fayrey (with eagles), the Mercers' Company (with bust), and Butler (with crosses). Fringes of red, yellow and violet silk.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1470-1530 (made)



Materials and Techniques

cut and uncut silk velvet, embroidered with silk and metallic threads, edged with metallic fringe

Marks and inscriptions

'iohn ffayrey'
'mary ffayrey'
'henry ffayrey'
'agnes ffayrey'


Length: 255 cm including fringing, Width: 134 cm including fringing

Object history note

Henry Fayrey died in 1516; his funerary brasses, formerly in Dunstable church, are in the V&A Metalwork collection (museum numbers M.126-1922, M.127-1922, M.2667-1931, M.33-1932). It is presumed that he, or a member of his family, gave this pall to the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist, a religious and charitable group which was founded at Dunstable in 1442 and dissolved in 1547. The unidentified figures on the pall probably represent members of the fraternity. The register of the fraternity is at Luton Museum.

The Fayrey Pall was on long-term loan to the V&A from 1950-1960. It was then returned to Dunstable for display in the Priory Church of St. Peter until 1976, when it was loaned back to the V&A following concerns raised by the parish council over the environment inside the church. It has been on long-term loan to the V&A ever since.

This object was borrowed by the V&A for the 1963 exhibition of Opus Anglicanum, English medieval embroidery.

Descriptive line

The Fayrey Pall; velvet with applied embroidery; England, 1470-1530.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kendrick, A.F. The Embroideress, vol. I (1923)
Fowler, F.A. Dunstable Priory Church (no date)
pp.57-58; plate 24, no. 150
King, Donald. Opus Anglicanum : English medieval embroidery, London, Arts Council,1963

Labels and date

Label until April 2011:


Velvet of cut pile and cloth of gold; the sides: silver-gilt, silver and silk enbroidery on linen applied to velvet, brick, satin and split stitches with laid and couched work
Silk velvet: ITALIAN (Florentine?); late 15th century
Embroidery: ENGLISH; early 16th century
Lent by the Rector and Churchwardens of the Priory Church of St. Peter, Dunstable

At the head and foot: St. John the Baptist between John Fayrey and his wife Mary, with inscriptions of their names and merchant's marks. At the side: St. John the Baptist between Henry Fayrey and his wife Agnes, with inscriptions of their names, twenty seven members of the Fayrey family and four shields with heraldry as follows: the Merchant of the Staple, the Company of Mercers, the Fayrey arms, and the Butler arms.

The pall is said to have been given to the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist at Dunstable by Henry Fayrey who died in 1516. []

Production Note

pall made up in England, but the materials (including the velvet) were probably imported from Italy


Silk; Metal thread


Velvet; Uncut velvet; Embroidered; Applied work

Subjects depicted

Men; Women; Coats of arms; Flowers


Embroidery; Ceremonial objects; Textiles; Death; Heraldry

Production Type



Textiles and Fashion Collection

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