Hereford & Worcester

Elizabeth I dress: Altar cloth may be Queen's gown

Media captionThe ownership of the ornate silver cloth is to be decided

Remnants of a dress belonging to Queen Elizabeth I may have been found in an altar cloth in Herefordshire.

The fabric at St Faith's Church in Bacton has been identified by experts as a piece of a 16th Century dress.

An examination by Historic Royal Palaces curators has strengthened a theory it formed part of a court dress.

The Queen is depicted in the Rainbow Portrait wearing a similar fabric, but no documentary evidence has been found to suggest the dress was worn by her.

Historians believe the monarch could have gifted the garment to one of her servants, Blanche Parry.

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Image copyright CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption A portrait of Queen Elizabeth I was painted by Steven Van Der Meulen between 1533 and 1603

Dating back to the last decades of the 16th Century, the altar cloth that hung in a glass case at St Faith's Church has long been associated with Parry, who was born in Bacton.

It is made from cloth of silver; a high status fabric which Tudor sumptuary law dictated could only be worn by royalty or the highest echelons of the aristocracy.

Image caption The fabric has been preserved in St Faith's Church in Bacton

Historic Royal Palaces joint chief curator Tracy Borman said: "This is an incredible find. Items of Tudor dress are exceptionally rare in any case, but to uncover one with such a close personal link to Queen Elizabeth I is almost unheard of.

"We're thrilled to be working with St Faith's Church to conserve this remarkable object, which will now be further examined by our conservation experts at Hampton Court Palace where we hope to be able to display it in future."

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