The Spetchley Park, Bargello, silk, bed curtains adapted into wall hangings in the 19th century



Spetchley park, Bargello, silk, bed curtains adapted into wall hangings in the 19th century

• The use of silk, patterning and size suggests that these striking Bargello hangings were almost certainly conceived as bed curtains. In the Green Chamber at Parham House the State Bed is hung with Bargello curtains, pelmets and valences c1620. Like the Parham bed curtains, the Spetchley Park bed curtains have two horizontal pattern repeats in each drop. Needless to say, surviving bed curtains from this period are exceptionally rare as they had value as hangings and for upholstering domestic objects when removed from the bed. • The Spetchley Park bed curtains are really beautiful and luxurious. They were made as elite objects and have not lost their gravitas or their character and charm. • The Spetchley Park bed curtains were adapted into wall hangings in the 19th century. They are versatile and could easily be reinstated as curtains or panels within larger curtains. • Bargello work has a classic timeless quality to it and blends with most decorative schemes whether period or contemporary

Each panel is made from two sections of bargello. The step (pattern) comprising two rows of short vertical stitches over two threads of graduating numbers of stitches up and down with two rows of long vertical stiches over six threads of graduating numbers of stitches up and down. Worked in graduating shades of blue, green, brown, red, tan and ivory silks on a hessian ground. The four edges of each hanging are faced with a 19th century, dusky pink fan edged braid. Lined in beige linen with velcro at the top for hanging. The reds have faded which is usual. There are areas of loss throughout where the hessian canvas is visible on close inspection although is it not noticeable when hung and some loose threads. Old repairs throughout commensurate with age and use. Hanging 1: Length 100 cm, height 192cm made from two traditional width panels of bargello Hanging 2: Length 97 cm, height 190 cm made from two traditional width panels of bargello

Provenance Henry Berkeley by descent. The Spetchley estate was purchased by Rowland Berkeley, a wealthy wool merchant and banker, in 1606, and has been in the family ever since.

Spetchley park

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn stayed at Spetchley during a 'Summer Progress' of 1535. Sir Robert Berkeley (d 1656), who inherited the estate in 1611, received licence in 1625 to impark at Spetchley. The house was burnt in the aftermath of the Battle of Worcester in 1651. In 1683 the diarist John Evelyn noted that the owner Sir Robert Berkeley was 'most ingenious, virtuous and religious ... and very curious in gardening.' A major phase of alterations began at Spetchley following Robert Berkeley's succession in 1804, with the house being rebuilt from 1811 in the Regency taste and the surrounding landscape reordered. The gardens owe much of their detailed form in the late C20 to the activities of Rose Willmott, who married Robert Berkeley of Spetchley in 1891 and who lived here until her death in 1922. Her younger sister, Ellen Willmott (d 1934), one of the most famous gardeners of her time, also had a considerable input. After Rose's death, responsibility for the garden passed to Capt R G W Berkeley, who added considerably to the plant collections. In the later 1990s Major R J Berkeley added a Millennium Garden within the kitchen garden. For generations the family collected a veritable treasure trove of rare and important pieces on their travels and adventures across Europe, North America and India.

• In the Green Chamber at Parham House the State Bed is hung with Bargello curtains, pelmets and valences, c1620 • A tester bed at the Cha^teau de Carrouges, Carrouges, Basse-Normandie is hung with 18th or 19th century Bargello • There are a number of Bargello, wool work, wall hangings in situ in historic houses in the UK such as the West Room and the Ante Room at Parham, the Fettiplace Closet at Chastleton which were originally the bed hangings at Clandon Park

Bargello work Bargello or flame stitch embroidery was particularly popular for furnishings during the Italian Renaissance, worked in Florence it is also called Florentine work. This type of work is also called Irish stitch (particularly in America) or Point d'Hongire (Hungary). It became fashionable again during the seventeenth and eighteenth century and often worked by ladies of the house. A pattern was not required to be drawn on the loose canvas as a counted stitch was worked. The ground could be quickly covered with floss silks or wools, using long and short stitches, with a blunt tipped needle, in a zig zag or flamestitch design. The embroiderer did have to concentrate very hard to not make mistakes. Silk Bargello was traditionally used for domestic bed and wall hangings and personal items such as wallets and shoes and wool Bargello which is more hardwearing for upholstery. Lady Anne Clifford writes in 1619 of her Bargello work 'it being my chief help to pass way the time at work'.

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Height 192 cm / 75 "
Width 200 cm / 78 34"
Depth 1 cm / "

17th Century


circa 1620





Collectors / Designers



Baroque (Of the period)




GOOD. Wear consistent with age and use.