Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1600-1625 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen embroidered with coloured silks, metal braiding, silver bobbin lace

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This coif is embroidered in coloured silks, embellished with precious metal threads and spangles (sequins). The pattern of scrolling stems bearing flowers and fruits is typical of embroidery design in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. As an unfinished piece, it is particularly interesting, because it shows the process of embroidery. The pattern was first drawn with ink and a very fine brush, which can still be seen in the unworked areas. Each motif was embroidered around the edges in stem stitch, before being filled in.

Until the end of the 17th century the coif was informal headwear for women. Plain linen versions were worn by the working-class. Middle-class and aristocratic women wore elaborately decorated coifs. It would have been worn by itself indoors, or with a hat on top in public. In Western Europe it was customary for both men and women to cover their heads in public up until the 1960s. A hat was an essential part of respectable dress and, from a health perspective, head coverings were considered necessary to protect against chills and disease.

Physical description

Unfinished woman's coif of linen embroidered with coloured silks and embellished with metal braiding and sequins. It is bordered with silver bobbin lace. There is visible underdrawing on the crown of the coif.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1600-1625 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen embroidered with coloured silks, metal braiding, silver bobbin lace

Descriptive line

Woman's coif of linen, 1600-1625, English; embroidered with silk, metal threads, unfinished, silver bobbin lace


Linen; Silver; Silk



Subjects depicted



Europeana Fashion Project; Clothing; Hats & headwear; Women's clothes


Textiles and Fashion Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.