During the Tudor and Stuart period, gloves such as these were symbols of wealth and sophistication. They were unlikely to have been worn to protect the hands or keep warm but instead were displayed, either hooked into a belt or casually carried in the hand, where the colourful silks and silver threads would have drawn the eye.
These gloves supposedly belonged to Queen Elizabeth I who gave them to Lady Olive Sharington when she stayed at Lacock Abbey in 1574. The gloves, however, are later in date (around 1625) and were more likely worn by a man. A possible former owner could be Olive’s grandson, Sharington Talbot the younger, who was born in 1599 and married in 1627.
Gloves like these were often given as gifts, especially as love tokens. The floral motifs on them are typical of the period including a prominently placed violet, or wild pansy, and smaller silver thread wrapped flowers that look like the tudor rose. The wild pansy appears in Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’ (first performed in 1605) as ‘love-in-idleness’, the liquid from which, when dropped into the eyes, makes the person fall in love with the next person they see.
The floral motifs may also evoke the scent sometimes applied to gloves at this time. They would have then been used like a pomander to cover the unpleasant smells of daily life.
Purchased in 2022 with support from the Museums Association Beecroft Bequest