Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Medieval English Mitre

This mitre, belonging to the treasury of Westminster Cathedral, is currently on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum. It dates to c.1160-1220, and so, is contemporaneous with the life of St Thomas Becket.

Since the 19th century it has been associated with the relics and mitre of St Thomas Becket at Sens Cathedral, although this association is now disputed. The lappets do not match because the one embroidered with an apostle was formerly attached to another mitre, c.1180-1210 also at Sens Cathedral; the floriate lappet is original.

In form and decoration, this mitre does resemble the famed Becket Mitre. The scrolls and floriate embroidery are silver-gilt thread worked on padded white silk. The circular compartments in the embroidery and the red band of silk would have been ornamented with jewels and enamels but these have been removed.

The mitre is 27cm x 23.5cm with a 3cm-wide lappet (extending to 6.5cm at the base) that is 44cm long.

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