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Head cloth

Head cloth

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1554-1575 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Woven silk damasks, embroidered with silk and metal thread

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 58, case 5

Object Type
Together with other bed hangings, the head cloth, hung at the head of the bed, helped keep the sleeping occupants warm. It also contributed an element of luxury and colour, as well as providing an appropriate and highly visible place to show the owners' coats of arms or initials.

Makers & Making
The reuse of luxury materials was quite common and in this case more than one original dress or furnishing fabrics have been included. Such economy suggests and that this headcloth was probably not intended for the best bed. Even the richest households would make use of 'secondhand' materials, particularly expensive ones. The cream silk damask with couched embroidery may have once formed part of a bed tester or canopy that was suspended over the top of the bed. The red brocaded silk damask evidently also had another use before it was incorporated into this headcloth.

Physical description

Head cloth for a bed, cream and red silk damask

Place of Origin

England (made)


1554-1575 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Woven silk damasks, embroidered with silk and metal thread


Height: 213 cm, Width: 169 cm

Object history note

Another panel in Ipswich Museum. Included in the catalogue of Embroideries from Norfolk Families, held in Norwich 1961, cat.10

Descriptive line

embroidered, 1554-75, English; Arms of Wentworth/Glemham

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Decorative cloths were hung at the head of beds and were often decorated with coats of arms. This one is embroidered with a coat of arms and initials celebrating the marriage of Henry Wentworth and Elizabeth Glemham in 1554. The expensive red and white silks were re-used from earlier hangings. [27/03/2003]


Silk damask; Metal thread


Embroidery; Damask


Furniture; Textiles


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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