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Bodice front

Bodice front

  • Place of origin:

    Bedfordshire (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1865-1875 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lester, Thomas (designer)
    Lester, Thomas (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bobbin lace and cotton thread

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Elvira Strong

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Naturalism in design was a characteristic of English bobbin lace in the 1860s, particularly at Honiton, but also in Bedfordshire. One of the leading figures in the English hand-made industry was Thomas Lester of Bedford, and this bodice front may have been designed by him and made by his workers; its fern pattern is typical of his work. It would have been intended to be worn over a contrasting coloured silk, setting its pattern into clear relief.

Physical description

Bobbin lace bodice front. Bib-shaped front worked with fine cotton thread and bobbin lace. Worked in a pattern of ferns and blossoms set against an open square mesh decorated with picots and wheat ear fillings. The main parts of the pattern are in cloth stitch with openwork decoration.

A narrow border of Bucks point lace has been attached to the outer edge and is laid across the square corners at the bottom of the front to form an oval end. A different narrow edging decorated the inside of the neck edge.

Place of Origin

Bedfordshire (made)


ca. 1865-1875 (made)


Lester, Thomas (designer)
Lester, Thomas (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Bobbin lace and cotton thread


Length: 35 cm, Width: 28.5 cm, Length: 14.25 in, Width: 9.5 in

Descriptive line

Bobbin lace bodice front, possibly designed by Thomas Lester, Bedfordshire, ca. 1865-1875

Production Note

The main lace is bedfordshire-style; a bucks point border has been added to make the lower end curved.


Fashion; Lace; Women's clothes; Europeana Fashion Project


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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