One of the newest additions to the archive is the chapel altar hanging of vibrant blue and gold crown brocatelle. This swathe of luxurious material is understood to have been a section from the fabric designed and used for the Coronation of King George the VI in 1937, and has been a familiar sight here at Bradfield adorning the altar since the 1940’s. In order for it to be best protected a decision was recently made to remove the altar hanging to the archive, where it can be preserved away from sunlight and general wear and tear.
There is another large framed section of this material hanging in the entrance to the Chapel with a title beneath: “Brocatelle used in Westminster Abbey on the Coronation of His Majesty King George the Sixth on May the twelfth 1937 “
An archived pamphlet on gifts and memorials added to the chapel from 1940-1955, tells us that both this altar hanging and framed piece were kept in the chapel sanctuary and were gifted “In memory of Ian Anthony Goodsell, killed in an accident while at school – Altar frontal of Coronation brocatelle.”
Goodsell was in Army House and 15 years old when he was tragically killed in a cycling accident near Newbury in 1942. The Banbury Advertiser of the day reported that Goodsell and four other Bradfield boys had gone on their bikes to Newbury as a treat – it was Ascension Day and thus a holiday at Bradfield. They were heading home when the accident occurred with an overtaking lorry.
There is no record of how the Coronation material came to be in the Goodsell family’s possession. Or who it was exactly who made the donation. Goodsell’s father was a farmer at Farnborough Hall near Banbury, so a possible explanation is that they were given the material by the family who owned the lavishly furnished stately home, the Holbechs. They were certainly well known to the Goodsells as the Banbury Advertiser reported that they attended the funeral.
The very same material can be clearly seen here below in the black & white photos of the Coronation. It was made by Warner & Sons, an Essex firm who had a reputation for producing high class furnishing silks, largely in traditional designs of the 15th
to the 18th
centuries. They began weaving for royalty in 1880 and also produced silks for the Coronation of King Edward VII in 1902 and the coronations in 1911, 1937, and 1953. Commissioned by The Ministry of Works, this material was designed by Herbert Woodman to be hang from all the stands and balconies in Westminster Abbey. The particular type of material, brocatelle, is said to have been developed in 16th
c. Holland as an imitation of stamped leather. The cloth has a repousse like surface which is composed of contrasting weaves – in this case blue silk and metallic gold thread. Woodman has incorporated the appropriate symbology of the Imperial Crown, the Tudor Rose, oak leaves and fleur-de-lys for the Coronation.
Does anyone know anything more about the material? We would love to add to our new archive entry and to collect as much information as possible about this item of historic and national significance. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org