The Textile Conservation Centre

Liturgical textiles and the English Reformation

There has been much debate on how far the loss of appurtenances of worship assisted the Reformation under Edward VI and hindered the return to Catholicism under Mary I. However, this debate has not been informed by detailed knowledge of the number and nature of surviving pieces. This project seeks to inform historical studies by using the evidence of and from surviving artefacts to derive new insight into historical, religious and political changes in England in the sixteenth century. There has not been an overall study of the surviving pre-Reformation textiles in comparison to existing documentation which therefore means it is not possible to contextualise and understand the comparative value of the surviving textiles. Previous studies have tended to undertake detailed technical analysis of individual artefacts rather than undertake a survey of surviving pieces throughout Britain. This ongoing project seeks to establish how many such ecclesiastical textiles have survived and to look at the significance and role of liturgical textiles and other ecclesiastical possessions within the Henrician church.