Not currently on display at the V&A


1680 - 1710 (made)
Place of origin

Crewel-work embroidery on a linen and cotton twill ground

Object details

Object type
Materials and techniques
crewel-work (wool) embroidery on a linen and cotton ground
Brief description
Textile fragment, associated with the Great Bed of Ware, 1680-1710
Physical description
Crewel-work embroidery on a linen and cotton twill ground
  • Height: 79cm
  • Width: 37cm
Gallery label
Label from temporary display, The Great Bed of Ware: Fragments and Ephemera Main Entrance, March - June 2000. Fragment of crewel-work embroidery, Englsih, 1690-1700. Embroidered in crewel wool on a linen and cotton twill ground. This is a fragment of a coverlet placed on the bed when it was displayed at Rye House. It dates from a century later than the bed itself. Other fragments of the same coverlet are on display at the Lowewood Museum in Hoddesdon, Hertforshire. The bed when first made would probably have had wool hangings in plain colours. A replica scheme is being made for the new display, opening in November 2001.(2000)
Credit line
Given by John Hardy
Object history
This is a fragment of a piece of embroidery which was used to cover the Great Bed of Ware when it was displayed at Rye House, Hoddesdon, in about 1900. It was offered to the V&A in the 1970s but not acquired. John Hardy, a member of staff, bought the fragment and subsequently gave it to the Department.
Historical context
The fragment probably dates from the 1690s. It illustrates the context in which the bed was displayed at Rye House. In the room with the bed were displayed a collection of panelling, textiles, and curiosities, some of which were bogus. A list of the room's contents appears in a 1920s guidebook which is on the original acquisition RF for the great Bed of Ware (NACF 1931). On the RF is an old postcard showing the bed with what appears to be the embroidery over it. The Great Bed of Ware was displayed in the grounds of the Rye House Hotel as a tourist attraction, between 1870 and 1931. Two other fragments of the embroidery are on display at the Lowewood Museum, the local history museum at Hoddesdon. They were given by Miss Dawson, of 35 Briscoe Road, Hoddesdon, in 1970. She could be the person from whom John Hardy bought this fragment. The Dawson family may have been tenants of the Rye House Hotel during the First World War. Some old photographs recently acquired by the Lowewood Museum show members of the Dawson family in First World War army uniforms in the grounds of Rye House. They are thought locally to have lived there.
Subjects depicted
Associated object
Bibliographic reference
The Great bed of Ware; Secret History. V&A Magazine, May - August 2000
Accession number

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Record createdMay 30, 2000
Record URL
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