Purse thumbnail 1
Purse thumbnail 2
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images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 58b

Purse

ca. 1540 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This formal, heraldic purse associated with marriage has more significance than a purse used simply for money, or a 'swete-bag' used for carrying perfumed herbs to sweeten the atmosphere. Both men and women carried or wore pouches or purses. The long strings of this example suggest that it was intended to hang from the waist, but it is uncertain whether it was ever actually used as a container. English purses of this date are extremely rare and the survival of this one may be due to its formal role, which meant that it was rarely used and thought worth looking after.

Makers & Making
The workmanship of this purse is extremely fine with 1,250 silk stitches per square inch (194 per square centimetre). Most surviving canvas work is much coarser. Whether this suggests that a professional hand was involved or that the woman who made this was particularly skilled is not known.

Ownership & Use
Heraldic devices were displayed in many different ways, and their use on even small personal belongings such as this little purse indicates the important role that they had in proclaiming ownership and lineage. The heraldry on this purse reflects four marriages (that is, four family alliances), culminating in that of Sir Henry Parker and Elizabeth Calthorpe. This shows the significance attached to the family 'pedigree' by the parties involved.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Linen, embroidered with silk in tent stitch
Brief Description
Arms of the Calthorpe family
Physical Description
Four panels in a shield shape, each embroidered in silk in tent stitch on linen. It is decorated on all four sides with marshalled arms recording family alliances.
Dimensions
  • Including tassle height: 15cm
  • Width: 10.2cm
  • Depth: 15cm
Dimensions checked: measured; 25/01/1999 by DW
Content description
The heraldry on each panel can be described thus:



[1] For Sir John Calthorpe, and his wife Ann, daughter and heir of John Wythe, viz. Calthorpe (Quarterly of five: 1 and 5, CALTHORPE, Chequy or and azure, a fess ermine; 2, GESTINGTHORP, Ermine, a maunch gules; 3, STANHOE, Barry of eight and azure, a bend azure - should be argent; 4, BACON, Gules on a cheif argent, three pierced mullets sable) impaling Wythe (Quarterly: 1 and 4, WYTHE, Azure, a fess between six cross crosslets or).



[2] For John Calthorpe, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Roger Wentworth, viz. Calthorpe (Quartlerly of six: 1, CALTHORPE; 2, GESTINGTHORP; 3, STANHOE; 4, BACON; 5, WYTHE; 6, ST. OMER) all as above impaling Wentworth (Quarterly of six: 1, WENTWORTH, Sable, a chevron between three leopards' faces or; 2, DESPENCER, Quarterly argent and gules fretty or, a bendlet sable; 3, TIPTOFT, Argent, a saltire engrailed gules; 4, BADDLESMERE, Argent, a fess double cotised gules; 5, GOUSHILL, Or, three bars azure, a canton ermine; 6, OYRY, Azure, three lucies haurient or).



[3] For John Crane and his wife (he as second husband) Agnes Calthorpe, great aunt of the Elizabeth who married Sir Henry Parker, viz. Crane (Quarterly: 1, CRANE, Argent, a fess between three cross crosslets fitchy gules; 2, MOLLINGTON, Azure, a fess between two chevrons argent - tinctures should be reversed; 3, BOTELER, Suffolk, Argent, three covered cups in bend or, between two cotises gules; 4, CARBONEL, Gules, a cross moline argent, within a bordure engrailed or - usually blazoned with a plain cross, however) impaling Calthorpe (Quarterly of six: 1, CALTHORPE; 2, GESTINGTHORP; 3, STANHOE; 4, BACON; 5, WYTHE; 6, ST. OMER - all as above).



[4] For Sir Henry Parker, Knight of the Bath, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Sir Philip Calthorpe, viz. Parker (Quarterly: 1, PARKER, Argent, between two bars sable, each charged with three besants, a lion passant gules, in chief three bucks' heads caboshed sable; 2, MORLEY, Argent, a lion rampant sable, crowned or; 3, LOVELL, Barry nebuly or and gules; quartering HOLLAND, Azure, a lion rampant between three fleurs de lis argent; 4, MARESCHALL, Gules, a bend lozengy or) impaling Calthorpe (Quarterly: 1, CALTHORPE; 2, STANHOE - but with the bend gules; 3, WYTHE; 4, ST. OMER - all as above).
Gallery Label
British Galleries: This purse is formed of four shield-shaped panels, each carrying coats of arms showing the arms of a husband (left) with those of his wife (right). The purse emphasises that the marriage of Sir Henry Parker (died before 1553) and Elizabeth Calthorpe was an important alliance similar to those of earlier generations of the family, represented on the other panels.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Bought with the aid of H. J. Oppenheim
Object history
Probably made to commemorate the second marriage of Sir Henry Parker (died before 1553), Knight of the Bath, only son of Sir Henry Parker, 1st Baron Morley, to Elizabeth Calthorpe, daughter and heir of Sir Philip Calthorpe, of Ewarton, Suffolk.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
This formal, heraldic purse associated with marriage has more significance than a purse used simply for money, or a 'swete-bag' used for carrying perfumed herbs to sweeten the atmosphere. Both men and women carried or wore pouches or purses. The long strings of this example suggest that it was intended to hang from the waist, but it is uncertain whether it was ever actually used as a container. English purses of this date are extremely rare and the survival of this one may be due to its formal role, which meant that it was rarely used and thought worth looking after.

Makers & Making
The workmanship of this purse is extremely fine with 1,250 silk stitches per square inch (194 per square centimetre). Most surviving canvas work is much coarser. Whether this suggests that a professional hand was involved or that the woman who made this was particularly skilled is not known.

Ownership & Use
Heraldic devices were displayed in many different ways, and their use on even small personal belongings such as this little purse indicates the important role that they had in proclaiming ownership and lineage. The heraldry on this purse reflects four marriages (that is, four family alliances), culminating in that of Sir Henry Parker and Elizabeth Calthorpe. This shows the significance attached to the family 'pedigree' by the parties involved.
Bibliographic References
  • John Lea Nevinson, Catalogue of English Domestic Embroidery of the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Textiles, London: HMSO, 1938, p.97, plate LXVIII
  • p. 27-28; illustrated on coverClara Lamb, Robert M. Collins and Cedric J. Holyoake, English heraldic embroidery and textiles at the Victoria and Albert Museum: a select list with introduction, (XIII International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences, London, 1976)
Collection
Accession Number
T.246-1927

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record createdFebruary 24, 2003
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