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Table carpet - Bradford Table Carpet

Bradford Table Carpet

  • Object:

    Table carpet

  • Place of origin:

    London (embroidered)

  • Date:

    1600-1615 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen canvas, embroidered with silk thread in tent stitch

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with Art Fund support

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 58, Bromley-by-Bow Room, case 3

Object Type
This embroidery is described as a carpet, but it was intended for laying on a table as a costly and highly decorative cover, rather than on the floor. Its pictorial border would hang down vertically from the table's edge. The carpet would be covered up or removed if the table was used. 'Foot carpets' occasionally appear in contemporary paintings, in which case they are intended to indicate the high social standing of the sitter who can afford to have such an object underfoot.

Makers & Making
This carpet was produced in a professional workshop, and the absence of heraldry suggests that it was made for sale on the open market rather than for a specific commission. The embroidery is exceptionally fine, with approximately 62 stitches to the square centimetre. The tension of the embroidery stitches has pulled the canvas from a rectangular into a parallelogram shape.

Design & Designing
The design of the carpet has sometimes been described as depicting humankind's progression from the wild state to civilisation. It can also be seen more simply as a celebration of country pursuits. There are scenes of hunting, fishing and shooting, as well as the rural occupations of shepherd, milkmaid and miller, with watermill and windmill. Rural scenes were very popular in embroidered furnishings in the later 16th and early 17th century.

Physical description

Central field is a grid with scrolling vine stems and bunches of grapes. There is a deep border on each side showing a country landscape.
The canvas gound is in one piece, pulled out of shape by the tension of the embroidery stitches. About 400 stitches to the square inch.

Place of Origin

London (embroidered)


1600-1615 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen canvas, embroidered with silk thread in tent stitch


Height: 179.5 cm maximum, under tension, Width: 422 cm maximum, under tension

Object history note

Owned by the Earls of Bradford at Castle Bromwich Hall, West Midlands.

Descriptive line

Table carpet, embroidered, English, 1600-15

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

John Lea Nevinson, Catalogue of English Domestic Embroidery of the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries, Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Textiles, London: HMSO, 1938, p.7
Anthony Wells-Cole, Art and Decoration in Elizabethan England : The Influence of Continental Prints 1558-1625 (Yale University Press, 1997), p.244

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The range of luxury furnishings used in wealthy households included embroidered carpets. They were not used on the floor but as decorative table covers. The colourful and lively borders on this carpet were intended to hang down around the edges of the table and to be clearly visible. The absence of heraldry suggests that it was made for sale on the open market rather than as a specific commission. [27/03/2003]




Embroidery; Textiles


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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