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Bed hangings

Bed hangings

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1680-1700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Pett, Abigail

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embroidered in crewel wool on a linen and cotton ground

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr and Mrs W. J. H. Whittall

  • Museum number:

    T.13 to I-1929

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type
This curtain is from a set of bed hangings, comprising four curtains and six valances. Such sets of hangings, when pulled closed around a bed, gave warmth and privacy. They were usually the most important part of the bed, generally referred to as the 'furniture', and were often valued more highly than the wooden bed frames they decorated.

Materials & Making
The curtain is embroidered in a technique known as crewel work, from the crewel or worsted wool used. Crewel work was popular through much of the second half of the 17th century, and was used extensively for bed hangings. It was usually carried out on a strong ground fabric of linen and cotton twill.

Design & Designing
Many crewel work curtains were loosely based on Far Eastern designs. They were influenced by Indian painted textiles which were becoming increasingly available in England in this period and which themselves mixed Eastern and Western motifs. Abigail Pett's curtains have some fashionable Indian elements, but many aspects of their design are firmly in the tradition of English embroidery, particularly in the depiction of animals, and the varied filling stitches for the foliage.

Physical description

Set of linen/cotton bed hangings with crewel woolwork embroidery

Place of Origin

England (made)


1680-1700 (made)


Pett, Abigail

Materials and Techniques

Embroidered in crewel wool on a linen and cotton ground


Length: 25.5 cm

Object history note

There is a printed linen furnishing textile from the 1920s in the Textile collection which has been directly based upon these embroideries. (see T.378-1998)

Descriptive line

Abigail Pett Bed Hanging

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This hanging is one of 10 pieces made for a bed (see photograph). We know that a woman called Abigail Pett made this curtain because she embroidered her name on a valance from the set. The leaf design was influenced by imported Indian textiles, while the animals were popular motifs in English embroidery. [27/03/2003]


Cotton and linen blend; Wool yarn


Crewel work; Embroidery


Interiors; Embroidery; Textiles


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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