Bradford carpet

The Bradford Carpet is a canvas work embroidery made in the early 17th century (ca. 1600–1615) that originally belonged to the Earl of Bradford at Castle Bromwich.[1]

The Bradford carpet

The carpet measures 16 by 6 feet (4.9 m × 1.8 m). In the Victoria and Albert Museum it covers an entire wall. However, it was made neither for wall nor floor, but as a table covering. Its 17-inch-wide (430 mm) border was designed to hang down over the edges of a table, and it would have been removed or covered with a linen cloth when the table was used.[2]

The carpet is worked with silk embroidery thread in tent stitch on a linen ground.[1][3] The stitching is very fine (400 stitches/inch, 62 stitches/cm[2]) and was worked in at least 23 different colours.[1] The tension of the tent stitches over time has distorted the shape of the carpet. It is characteristic of professional canvas work popular for furnishings in the Elizabethan era.[2] The field design is a grape vine trellis. The border, thought to represent human progression from a wild state to civilisation,[4] depicts a variety of country pursuits set against a pastoral landscape, described as "perhaps the finest range of genre scenes to come down to us from Elizabethan times".[1] A manor house, shepherd, travelling vendor with his packhorse, lords and ladies, hunting scenes, milkmaids, millers, water mills and windmills are all shown.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c d e Digby 1964, p. 102, plates 46 and 47
  2. ^ a b c d V&A Museum, Life in Tudor and Stuart times
  3. ^ Levey & King 1993, p. 23
  4. ^ Levey & King 1993, p. 16


  • Digby, George Wingfield (1964). Elizabethan Embroidery. Thomas Yoseloff.
  • Levey, S. M. and D. King (1993). The Victoria and Albert Museum's Textile Collection Vol. 3: Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750. Victoria and Albert Museum. ISBN 1-85177-126-3.
  • "Victoria & Albert Museum Supporting Information: Life in Tudor and Stuart Times". Retrieved 28 June 2009.