Renaissance tapestry maps reunited after more than a century

  • 22 June 2007

The missing part of a unique series of Tudor tapestry maps has been purchased by the Bodleian Library in Oxford, thanks to a £47,375 grant from The Art Fund.

The map cost just over £100,000.

Woven in wools and silks, the Sheldon Tapestry Map for Gloucestershire is part of a set of four famed ‘Tapestry Maps’ dating from the 1590s. Commissioned by Ralph Sheldon for his home at Weston, Warwickshire, the series illustrates the midland counties of England: Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire.

The newly purchased map of Gloucestershire will join the maps of Worcestershire and Oxfordshire which are already owned by the Bodleian Library. The map of Warwickshire is currently part of the Warwickshire Museum’s collection.

Technically, the tapestry maps are without parallel in the UK, and are regarded as beautiful pieces of 16th-century decorative art as well as a fascinating vision of the landscape at the time. They still retain much of their original, vibrant colour, and demonstrate an interest in the depiction of landscape, rivers, and townscapes.

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