25 March 2020

Scan 2

This is a rare example of a 1690s English bed curtain. It was acquired by Christiana Herringham, a great collector and a great friend to Newnham. She is of particular interest to us because her biographer suggested that she was the original of Mrs Moore in A Passage to India, and she in her turn (in our view) may have been the original of Mrs Brockington who runs the home which eventually gives Ellen refuge (even to re-read the scene of Ellen going there on  page 345 of Someone at a Distance brings tears to one’s eyes, WHAT an extraordinary book!).  The Newnham bed hanging ‘is embroidered in crewel work on a cotton and linen ground – ‘crewel’ referring to a strong yarn made from the combed long-staple fibres of worsted work, which creates a raised three-dimensional quality to the work. The panel features a tree of life pattern – a design with flowing vines and stylised leaves influenced by imported Indian textiles.”