I hope you aren’t getting too tired of my minor obsession with late medieval English textiles. Here is another example of the post-medieval recycling of medieval vestments. Buckland in Gloucestershire has a lovely frontal made from various pieces of embroidered silk velvet. Information in the church refers to the fragments as forming part of a cope. The central panel of the frontal a large piece of blue velvet embroidered with waterflowers, is clearly part of a cope, as the motifs radiate out.
There are two fragments of cream figure velvet, decorated with a waterflower and a figure of a sainted bishop. The may come from cope orphreys, but I’m not convinced they belong with the blue panel.
Then there are two strips of red velvet, each of a distinctly different shade.The bottom red strip of fragments is decorated with figures of Our Lady, St John and the Crucifixion the fragments ae embroidered with St John, Our Lady and the Crucifixion as well as a waterflower. I can’t see these in a cope orphrey or on the back of a cope, so I suspect they form elements from the back of a chasuble.
The upper piece, decorated with figures of St Peter and St Paul, a glorious St Michael and a waterflower, are I suspect, like the cream fragments, parts of a cope orphrey. It was quite common for cope orphreys to incorporate figures of the Apostles.
Ths strip also incorporates a fascinating embroidered device, which I suspect is a rebus. The word ‘why’ in blackletter text is followed by an object that looks like the top of an architectural canopy. This is followed by a little cruciform church. Pevsner and others suggest, quite plausibly, that this is a rebus on the name of William Whitchurch, who was abbot of Hailes from 1464-1479. Hailes was an important Cistercian abbey about five miles from Buckland, famous for its relic of the blood of Christ.