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The Tapestry Maps Exhibition

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In 1914 an exhibition of the five known tapestry maps was organized at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It displayed the two Elizabethan tapestries of Oxfordshire and Worcestershire, commissioned by Ralph Sheldon (d.1613), and three with picture-frame borders making them appear to be a set.  

Worcestershire, the seventeenth century copy

MORE on Ralph Sheldon (pdf file)  
Two of these three, commissioned by Ralph ‘the Great’ Sheldon (d.1684), Oxfordshire and Worcestershire, were copies of the Elizabethan originals. They were woven perhaps in the 1670s because the originals had been damaged in the Civil War (1642-46) when the Sheldon house was pillaged. In the two copies, Oxfordshire and Worcestershire, many changes were made to the original decorative details, including substitution of a narrower, picture frame border.  

Oxfordshire, the seventeenth century version

Astonishingly, the third, Warwickshire, was the Elizabethan original given the same new picture-frame border. It was not recognized as such until early in the 21st century. It is the only one of the Elizabethan originals to survive complete. It hangs now in Warwickshire County Museum. http://heritage.warwickshire.gov.uk/museum-service/collections/the-sheldon-tapestry-maps/

The exhibition expanded when the owners of two then unrecognized sections of Gloucestershire came forward.


Map of Worcestershire
©V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London,
Courtesy of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford


Map of Oxfordshire
©V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London,
Courtesy of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

MORE on the background to the Tapestry Maps


Later Worcestershire tapestry map: 3.96m x 6.70m. Wool and silk

Museum number T.261-1960

Bodleian Library Tapestries

Oxfordshire: 12.ft 6 inches x 16 feet; 3.82 x 4.88 m.

Worcestershire:13 ft 9 inches x 16 ft 9 inches; 4.20 x 5.11 m.



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