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Chastleton House, Oxfordshire

Chastleton House...... ©Hilary L. Turner

After the exhibition of the Map tapestries in 1914 a search for other products from the looms at Barcheston began. Chastleton House, Oxfordshire, was visited because of an inventory of 1633 which listed 'mappes' and tapestries. It also mentioned a Sheldon Room.


But all the tapestries in the public rooms came from continental ateliers. Just as he was departing John Humphreys was shown a tapestry-lined private room. Humphreys later wrote :  

'the astonished visitor saw the wall covered with fine tapestries of evidently Elizabethan date. When the first moments of surprise were over, the tapestries were carefully studied, and confirmed our conjecture, for on one of them the date '1595' was woven in the right-hand corner. The quest ... had at last been successful and some of the long-looked-for treasures had actually come to light'.

This tapestry is one of them - the Judgement of Paris.

Tapestry: Judgement of Paris

©V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Chastleton House is only about ten miles from Barcheston. The tapestries there Humphreys maintained must have been purchased from the nearby Barcheston looms because Jones and Sheldon, as near neighbours, must have been acquainted.

The determination to find products from the manufactory which a small number of antiquarians felt so certain had come into being at Barcheston, coupled with the belief that it was the only production centre in England, led to the conclusion that all these examples were likely to be Barcheston products. By assuming it could produce tapestries of complex design and sizeable dimensions, it was possible to assert that it must have been a large, competent workshop, staffed by skilful weavers.

However, without evidence of any sort, assertions of this sort begged the question of the tapestries' origins.



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