England others, again, are in private hands.
On looking farther afield, we find ample
witness to the truth of the statement that
the opus Anglicanum obtained a reputation
in mediaeval times that extended far beyond
the country of its production. In Italy and
Spain especially, many a fine vestment bears
unmistakable evidence of an English origin.
Some were intended originally as offerings
to Rome,* and were distributed by the
popes, in their turn, to churches elsewhere;
others were scattered at the suppression
of the monasteries in this country under
Henry VIII., and, if not destroyed or con-
verted to secular uses, were taken abroad
The events just related, and the general
progress of the Reformation in England,
caused a notable decline in the demand for
ecclesiastical work. But there was still ample
scope for industry in the way of domestic
adornment and costume. Although under
changed conditions, the popularity of the art
among the ladies of England remained,
perhaps, as great as ever. Royal and noble
personages still passed many hours of the
day in needlework. Catherine of Aragon,
Mary Tudor, Elizabeth, and Mary Queen of
Scots, were all very fond of embroidery.
Portraits of the period show the extent to
which the needle was used for the adornment
of costumes, and many actual examples exist
to illustrate the skill and care with which the
work was produced.
In Stuart times there was no decline in
the popularity of needlework, though we are
bound to admit that the designs leave much
to be desired. The art, however, survived its
many vicissitudes, and from the earliest times
to the present there are landmarks enough
to show that needlework has remained
throughout a great national art.