Queen Elizabeth I's dress is set to go on display in a Hampton Court Palace exhibition

Megan C. Hills

From glittering historical tiaras to the Duchess of Sussex's Givenchy wardrobe, the outfits of royal women have fascinated for centuries. Now, a rare piece of Queen Elizabeth I's wardrobe is set to go on display at Hampton Court Palace.

A 16th century historical piece called the Bacton Altar Cloth has recently been identified as a fragment of court dress thought to have been belonged to the Virgin Queen.

Now after a lengthy two-year restoration process at Hampton Court Palace, the fabric will be displayed in an exhibition this October called The Lost Dress of Elizabeth I.

Conservator Eleri Lynn with the cloth (Historic Royal Palaces, Courtesy of St Faith's Church, Bacton)

The cloth, which is made from silver chamblet silk and embroidered with real gold and silver thread, was once part of a skirt, according to Historic Royal Palaces curator Eleri Lynn.

Further research into the fabric has revealed traces of Mexico-sourced red and indigo dyes, which would have only been available to high ranking nobles in Tudor times.

The pattern on the cloth also bears a strong similarity to another item on display in the same exhibit: the Rainbow Portrait. Depicting Queen Elizabeth I in full court regalia, the bodice of her gown bears a remarkably similarity to the pattern of the Bacton Altar Cloth.

The Rainbow Portrait (Marquess of Salisbury Hatfield House)

Lynn said, “To have an item of Tudor dress with such a close link to Queen Elizabeth I is extraordinarily rare, and we are very excited to display the Bacton Altar Cloth next to the legendary Rainbow Portrait, with its prominent similarities to the fabric of the cloth itself.”

The Bacton Altar Cloth is believed to have been gifted to Bacton in memory of Queen Elizabeth’s ‘Chief Gentlewoman’ and trusted lady in waiting Blanche Parry, where it was then used as an altar cloth (hence the name).

(Historic Royal Palaces, Courtesy of St Faith's Church, Bacton)

The exhibit is set to open on October 12, 2019 and finish on 23 February, 2020. The price of admission to the exhibit is included with admission to Hampton Court Palace.

Tickets to the palace begin at £21.30 for adults online and can be booked here.