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Detail, The Four Seasons

©Courtesy of the Marquess of Salisbury, Hatfield House


The discovery in 1908 of William Sheldon's will made people aware of his hitherto unknown venture.

Interest grew in the possibility that tapestry had been produced in England before the establishment of the better known factory at Mortlake in 1619.

Three tapestries were considered as possible products of Sheldon's project - the set of the Four Seasons, now at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, the much smaller valance and the arms of Sacheverell.


©Hilary L Turner

The tapestry Maps were exhibited in 1914. They had been commissioned by Ralph Sheldon, William's son, to decorate his new house at Weston in Long Compton, Warwickshire.

The family's coat of arms was included in some of the tapestries. Another showed the name of Richard Hyckes. It seemed obvious that the workshop must have produced them.

MORE on the Maps exhibition >


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


MORE on the Elizabethan Maps >


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

More On Discoveries >

One man in particular, John Humphreys, fascinated by the tapestry maps, set out to look for other products. His discoveries of tapestries at Chastleton House, Oxfordshire, in 1919, marks the start of the Sheldon story. Because the house is close to Barcheston, it was assumed that at least some tapestries there must have been purchased at the nearest supply point. There was no evidence.

More on Humphreys Reviewed (pdf file)>


©VandA Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

In the years following, several tapestries were then instantly recognized as Sheldon products - even though no one had any clear idea of what those products had looked like, because there is no written evidence.

Doubtful Attributions >


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