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The Ecclesiological Society

For those who love churches

The Power and the Glory – an Elizabethan survival: the Bacton Altar Cloth

Location:Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace
East Molesey
T8 9AU
See on Google Maps
Organiser:The Ecclesiological Society
Price:There is no charge for this event but Members will need to pay the £21.30 standard admission charge to the Palace (concessions available)

Dr Eleri Lynn, curator of the dress collection at Historic Royal Palaces, has kindly agreed to show Members of the Ecclesiological Society, and their guests, the Bacton altar cloth.

The altar cloth is made of the finest chamblet silk, woven with strips of beaten silver, and exquisitely embroidered in a rich pattern of plants, beasts and butterflies. It was previously used in the church at Bacton, Herefordshire and was recognised by Dr Lynn as part of a lost dress of Queen Elizabeth I.

Three years of subsequent scholarship have only strengthened experts’ conviction that the dress must have been part of the royal wardrobe. A measure of the importance of the discovery is that in the entire royal dress collection only one other item of 16th-century dress survives. The altar cloth is now on display at Hampton Court Palace, close to the very rooms where the Tudor queen may well have worn it more than 450 years ago.

Our group visit will commence at 12.20 pm prompt for Holy Communion at the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace.  The Chapel Royal is our assembly point.  Service will commence at 12.30 pm. Following the service we will have a talk by the Chaplain about this extraordinary place of worship;  while none of Cardinal Wolsey’s original chapel remains visible, there is plentiful and remarkable work from the time of Henry VIII, intriguingly left undisturbed by both the depredations of Edward VI and later Cromwellian periods. Further embellishments survive from the baroque, including work by the master craftsman Grinling Gibbons and arrangements by Sir Christopher Wren.  The Chapel Royal is the only part of the Palace which is still administered by the Royal Household: in recent years it has been used for Royal weddings and is now the Chapel of the Order of Companions of Honour.

We will then proceed to the altar cloth exhibition.

To make a booking for this event organised by the Society please send your details including your postal address, contact phone number & any email address to the Visits Secretary:
Jonathan McCafferty, 16 Kirton Close, Chiswick, London W4 5UU    Tel: 0208 994 2786

Because of space limitations our group size will be limited to twenty people maximum. For this reason, early booking is recommended. There will be no charge for our event.  However, Members will have to pay standard admission charges to the Palace; these are currently advertised at £21.30.  Concessions are available – see:

Please note that there are numerous steps to access the Palace and Chapel Royal and this may cause difficulties for someone with limited mobility.