1570~, Sheffield

1570~, Sheffield

Presented by Art Fund
Carried out by
Mary, Queen of Scots (http://data.silknow.org/activity/designer)
0.5 cm (depth)
27 cm (height)
26 cm (width)
Production time
Production place
Type of object


Textile panel 'The Oxburgh Hangings' of embroidered linen canvas with silk, gold and silver threads, possibly made by Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth Talbot, probably made in Sheffield, ca. 1570 British Galleries: Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587)
Mary Queen of Scots' troubled reign in Scotland ended in 1568 when the Scottish Lords forced her to flee across the border into England. As Elizabeth's cousin Mary had long claimed the English throne, leading Elizabeth to see Mary as a threat and place her in the custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury. Mary was held captive in various English country houses for 19 years. She was finally executed in 1587.

Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587) embroidered these panels with Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury (Bess of Hardwick) and ladies of the household, during her imprisonment. Mary may have intended the large central panel as a cushion for Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel (1557-1595), an English Catholic courtier imprisoned in London by Elizabeth I. Mary's emblem of the marigold turning towards the sun (lower right) has been combined with various coats of arms and emblems representing courage in adversity. Many other panels from the same group are now at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk. [27/03/2003] Object Type
It was a popular pastime of wealthy ladies in the 16th century to make up large decorative hangings from a number of smaller panels. This enabled a group of women to work on individual panels at the same time. The hangings would be used as part of a bed set, as either curtains or covers, or be placed on the wall like a tapestry. If necessary, they could be dismantled at a later stage and the panels reused. In the case of this hanging, it seems likely that the panels were left unused until the 17th century.

It is very rare to be able to identify surviving embroideries as having been owned or worked by royalty. This piece and others in the same group are exceptional since they were worked by Mary, Queen of Scots and her attendants. During her long imprisonment she made numerous embroideries, some of which have her initials or cipher. This activity must have both filled her time and occupied her mind as many of the emblems or mottoes have more significance than is immediately apparent. Textile panel of embroidered linen canvas with silk, gold and silver threads in cross stitch.