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Bearing Cloth

17th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Bearing cloths were used for ceremonial occasions, particularly baptisms, up to the end of the 17th century. The bearing cloth would have been wrapped round the swaddled child during the procession to church but removed for the immersion of the child in the font as part of the ceremony. The cloths were generally very ornate, and therefore expensive to produce. Such a cloth would traditionally be passed down through the family, being used for sons, daughters and cousins alike, and many remained treasured family possessions. The bearing cloth was effectively replaced by the christening robe when total immersion ceased to be used, therefore allowing the child's clothing to be more decorative in itself.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silk satin with metallic lace
Brief Description
A bearing cloth of pale green/blue silk satin with gold and silver metallic lace borders, made in England in the 17th century
Physical Description
A bearing cloth that consists of two lengths of pale blue/green silk satin sewn together to form a rectangular cloth with the seam running the length of the centre. The bobbin lace forms organic designs and garland-like clusters with suggestions of flowers in gold, and a surround of a wide net silver thread bobbin lace with decorative hoops. On each end of the cloth in the centre the lace is sewn to form a small heart shape. The back of the cloth has been conserved, with a backing of pale blue/green silk sewn to protect the back of the cloth; it has been labelled by the conservator. The satin on the front is a little stained and stressed from having been folded but is otherwise in very good condition. The lace has retained its shine overall though there are some areas of tarnishing.
Dimensions
  • Width: 104cm
  • Length: 133cm
Production typeUnique
Credit line
Given by Sarah Cartwright
Summary
Bearing cloths were used for ceremonial occasions, particularly baptisms, up to the end of the 17th century. The bearing cloth would have been wrapped round the swaddled child during the procession to church but removed for the immersion of the child in the font as part of the ceremony. The cloths were generally very ornate, and therefore expensive to produce. Such a cloth would traditionally be passed down through the family, being used for sons, daughters and cousins alike, and many remained treasured family possessions. The bearing cloth was effectively replaced by the christening robe when total immersion ceased to be used, therefore allowing the child's clothing to be more decorative in itself.
Collection
Accession Number
B.90-2009

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record createdSeptember 22, 2009
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