priceless treasures belong to St. Gregory's Church but are currently
in the care of Ipswich Museum. For almost twenty years they were
displayed in a glass cabinet in St. Peter's but were removed to
the museum for safe keeping
when the church was declared Redundant.
Of the two pieces the most important is The Sudbury Pall, a ceremonial
cloth of embroidered velvet, which was placed over a coffin during
the burial service of important persons. It dates from the latter
half of the latter half of the 15th century and is a splendid and
rare example of English church embroidery from that period.
Strangely the very first mention we have of the cloth appears in
the old Town Book of 18th December 1569 where it States John Rushbrooke
'gave up two spouts of lead weighing 135 lbs
and a cloth of gold and velvet called The Pall which did belong
to the church of St. Peter aforesaid, being taken from there by
the said John Rushbrooke to recover payment for certain charges
he had been at for the said church, which he now agreed to remit...'
next appears in an inventory for St. Peter's in 1675 described as
'One Burying Cloth embroidered with gold and Silver. Only in the
late 18th century do we see it described as The Alderman's Pall
on a label attached to it which states 'The Alderman's Pall repaired
is interesting to compare the descriptions for the earlier one places
the emphasis on gold.
This can he explained for close scrutiny of the flat surface shows
clear evidence that a large area was covered originally with an
embroidered Crucifixion. This would have been in gold thread but
Crucifixions in any form were banned in the middle 17th century
so it would have been carefully unpicked and the gold thread salvaged.
The Second description of 1675 is more appropriate for the Pall
as seen today.
Pall is made of maroon silk velvet which would have teen imported
from Italy. The Side and end folds are embroidered with elegant
stylised vases of lilies in gold and silver thread.
fold also has a kneeling figure in a shroud worked in coloured silks.
Each figure has a prayer scroll encircling its head. The prayers
are quotations from the Vulgate, the Latin Bible. Translated into
modern English the above reads as - "Though l have sinned I
hope to see the goodness of the Lord'',
those on the other 3 sides when translated are as follows:
Trust in Thy Light to lighten my darkness"
"Heal Thou my Soul O Lord for l have sinned against Thee''
"Haste Thee to help me O Lord"
These are supplications from the dead person direct to his Saviour.
Had they been requests for others to pray for their soul then the
Pall would nothave survived the 17th century. The Pall in edged
with a fringe of coloured silks, which seems to have been added
in the 18th century, probably the 'repair' mentioned above.
the early middle ages English embroidery using gold and silver thread
was famous throughout Europe and called 0pus Anglicanum. A Vatican
inventory of 1295 lists over 100 pieces. One of the most famous
embroiderers was Mabel of Bury St Edmunds who regularly appears
as working for Henry III between 1289-1244. Nuns in religious houses
did much of this work but by the 15th century specialised workshops
were established in various parts of the kingdom employing men.
The Sudbury Pall would have come from such a place.
How did St. Peter's come to own such a piece/ The most logical answer
is that this was probably made for Sudbury College for the burial
services of the Masters and was passed to the church after the Reformation.
If so, it would have been used to drape the coffin of William Wood.
Who knows? He may even have commissioned it.
the time of Henry VIII it was compulsory for churches to display
the Royal Arms to acknowledge the sovereign as head of the church
in England. Sometimes they were painted on board or even carved
in wood and many have survived.
St. Peter's was restored in 1685, the same year James II came to
the throne, a new set of arms was provided in the form of an embroidered
panel on velvet. For display purposes the panel was mounted on some
other embroidered panels cut from a cope, which the church owned
and had no further use for. The whole ensemble was then suspended
from the pulpit, which had become the focal point of church services
and not the altar as in pre-Reformation days.
arms of James II beautifully worked and below them in a smaller
version of the Borough arms. The panels, which were cut from the
cope, are of Italian embroidered silk from the late 15th or early
16th century. The combination of the two types of embroidery, pre-Reformation
and post-Reformation, makes this an outstanding and unique possession.
Danown, in his will dated 1457, leaves 6/8d '
for new copes bought for the church of St. Peter....' Another wealthy
man, Thomas Easton of Sudbury donated an embroidered cope to the
church in 1503.
above articles are taken from the booklet entitled "More Sudbury
History", produced in 2003 by Sudbury History Society and is
the © of Barry Wall
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