– Historians are excited about the discovery of the only surviving piece of clothing worn by Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) who is considered by many to be the greatest monarch in English history.
A skirt belonging to the Tudor Queen was found inside on an altar inside the in the 13th-century church of St Faith, Bacton in Herefordshire, UK.
The finding has already been labeled the Holy Grail of ancient fashion history.
The skirt was found in 2016 and experts have spent a whole year piecing together clues about the provenance of the beautifully embroidered textile, which had been cut up and used for hundreds of years as an altar cloth.
Eleri Lynn, curator of historic dress at Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) who discovered the clothing is convinced it once belonged to Queen Elisabeth I. Lynn said she knew at once she had found something truly extraordinary.
“When I saw it for the first time I knew immediately that it was something special. As I examined it, I felt as though I had found the Holy Grail, the Mona Lisa of fashion. None of Elizabeth I’s dresses are known to have survived, but everything we have learnt since then points to it being worn by Elizabeth,” Lynn said.
Born on 7 September 1533 at Greenwich Palace, Elizabeth Tudor became queen in 1558, she was twenty-five years old. She was the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn.
She was the long-ruling queen of England, governing with relative stability and prosperity for 44 years. The Elizabethan era is named for her.
Many biographies have been written about Queen Elizabeth I, but never before have a piece of her clothing been discovered.
The botanical pattern on the cloth bears a striking resemblance to that on a bodice worn by Elizabeth in the so-called Rainbow Portrait of 1602 and Eleri Lynn believes it is “not inconceivable” that the skirt, which cannot be seen in the painting, is part of the same outfit.
“We have 10,000 items of clothing and accessories in storage here, including many items worn by kings and queens, but there is almost nothing from before the reign of Charles II.
In Tudor times, clothing was so expensive that it would be passed on from one generation to the next, or taken apart and reused for something else, like cushion covers.
On top of that, Oliver Cromwell sold off every item of clothing in the royal stores, so the only things we have, including a hat which might have been worn by Henry VIII, have come back to Hampton Court after they have survived elsewhere,” Eleri Lynn said.
Though some are convinced the discovered material did really belong to the Tudor Queen, there are those who still doubt it.
Nevertheless, the long-lost skirt of Queen Elisabeth I will eventually be displayed in the Tudor palace.