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Tapestries once at Chastleton House and Their Influence on the Image of the Tapestries Called Sheldon: A Reassessment

  • Hilary L Turner (a1)

The intentions expressed in William Sheldon's will of 1570 suggest an attempt to introduce tapestry weaving at Barcheston, Warwickshire. Interpreted in the 1920s as resulting in a commercial venture – the only production centre in Elizabethan England – tapestries were attributed to it without documentary evidence, without stylistic comparison with continental work and without study of the records of émigré Flemish weavers settling in London from 1559 onwards. Their presence and more easily available comparative material, in both documentary and tapestry form, combine W question the previous picture, never revised. On re-examination, the historical evidence used to link tapestries found at Chastleton House with Sheldon's enterprise appears weak. Challenging the time-honoured belief that those tapestries should be regarded as key pieces in the Sheldon corpus also calls into question subsequent attributions made by association, and opens the way for a new exploration of the tapestry industry in sixteenth-century England.

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