Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1615 - 1630 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Linen, linen thread, silk thread; hand-woven, hand-sewn, hand-embroidered, hand-made bobbin lace.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Object Type
Smocks were made of linen and usually undecorated, so that they could be washed. A wealthy woman would own several dozens of smocks and wear a clean one each day.

Materials & Making
The smock is embroidered with deep carnation pink (now faded) silk thread in stem stitch. The seams were hand-sewn with a very fine needle and equally fine linen thread; the resulting stitches are almost invisible. Around the neck, these seams have been embellished with cross stitch to incorporate them with the rest of the embroidery. The smock is made from a single length of fine linen. All of the pieces, sleeves, collars, cuffs, gussets, are cut in rectangular or square shapes. The gores (the long triangular inserts) are made from rectangles cut in half diagonally. By constructing the smock this way, not a single scrap of linen was wasted.

Designs & Designing
The embroidery features a repeating pattern of flowers, insects and animals, including both real and fantastic creatures. Four motifs were copied from a book called A Schole-House for the Needle by Richard Schorleyker. This was a very popular design book for both embroidery and lacemaking, first published in 1624 and reprinted in 1632.

Physical description

The smock is made of linen with a high neck and collar, long sleeves, triangular gores at the sides. \the cuffs have a worked eyelet on each side and fasten with strips of openworlk tape (possible original). The front to the waist and the sleeves, collar and cuffs are embroidered with red silk in outline stitch showing various animals, birds, flowers, and mythical creatures. The seams joining the sleeves, gussets and side gores are decorated with cross stitch in red silk thread.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1615 - 1630 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Linen, linen thread, silk thread; hand-woven, hand-sewn, hand-embroidered, hand-made bobbin lace.

Marks and inscriptions

'Lady Lawrence'
On label sewn to the back on the outside, near hem


Length: 117.5 cm neck to hem, Width: 138 cm cuff to cuff, Depth: 16 cm mounted, Width: 97.5 cm skirt

Object history note

Purchased from Arditti and Mayorcas, 38 Jermyn Street, London in 1955.

Descriptive line

A woman's smock, 1615-1630, English; Linen embroidered with red silk in flower, bird motifs, edged with bobbin lace.

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

Janet Arnold, Jenny Tiramani & Santina M Levey, Patterns of Fashion 4: the cut and construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear, headwear and accessories for men and women c.1540-1660, London: Macmillan, 2008, pp.59, 116

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The linen smock was an article of women's underwear similar to a man's shirt. It was one of the few items of clothing that could be washed. Most were undecorated, but this example may be a 'lying-in' smock. After childbirth, a woman rested in bed, receiving her female friends, and required a fancy version of her everyday smock. [27/03/2003]


Linen (material); Silk thread; Linen thread


Hand weaving; Hand embroidery; Hand sewing; Bobbin lace making

Subjects depicted

Owls; Seahorses; Foxes; Rabbits; Flowers; Serpents; Birds; Mice; Snails; Chickens


Clothing; Underwear; Europeana Fashion Project


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.