Monday 4 January 2010

My Favourite Cowslips

By an extraordinary coincidence of fate I came back from Gloucestershire late tonight to find a very interesting email from Catherine in Kansas in my inbox. Catherine told me she was intrigued by this 17th century lady's cap sold at Bonham's recently.
And I had spent the afternoon similarly intrigued - and astonished - while examining this very cap in all its colourful beauty, with Mary Brooks and Christopher Brown, Director of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The cap, now in a private collection, will be described and analyzed by Mary in the forthcoming Needleprint Book. Although there are similar caps worn by men of the time, I have it on good authority that this is definitely a lady's cap passed down through the female line. In 1755 it was owned by Maude Morris, who passed it on to Maud Shepherd, then Maud Eden Clark, Mary Maud Clark, Mary Maud Cooper, Mary Maud Smart and Ida Maud Parker. It is possible that the survival of many precious early needleworks owes much to this tradition of bequest through the female line.
I was amazed how fresh the colours are still - think of all the beige browns on early samplers that would once have been this pink! The honeysuckle and borage are wonderfully depicted - but my favourite flower here is the yellow cowslip.


  1. What beautiful work on the hat and beautiful stitchery.
    It is wonderful that it retained it's colors, so we can enjoy it, as well.


  2. How lovely this is! I have been looking at the coif that is in progress over at Thistle Threads in conjuction with the Plymoth Plantation jacket project.

    How fun to be able to see an original and a recreation of something so beautiful that is just not a commonplace object anymore! It is people like you and Tricia that keep needlework history alive!!

  3. It's a sad day when items as beautiful as this are not appreciated by more people. What a wonderful cap and what beautiful work. tnstitcher

  4. What a treasure - and what a treat to look at these beautifully detailed photos. It certainly brightened my cold, overcast January afternoon. Thank you Jacqueline for all the special things you bring us. I'll be looking forward to another book from Needleprint.

  5. Intriguing, as to me it looks like a man's nightcap slashed on one side. No way is it a woman's cap (as originally made) as the cut is totally wrong. However, knowing how people did recycle things it wouldn't surprise me if a woman took on the nightcap and gave it new life.