In the early 1900’s, the name ‘Sheldon’ was given to a group of 116 tapestries thought to be from a workshop described in the 1570 will of William Sheldon, in which he arranged a loan and gave use of his manor house at Barcheston, Warwickshire to Richard Hyckes. Tapestry was a useful and versatile furnishing medium: it could be woven at sizes large enough to cover and decorate walls, it might form the outer casing of a cushion or hang from the wooden frame of a bed, it made the owner feel instantly at home because it was portable. At its most costly, tapestry was the means to impress, to carry the message of power and demonstrate wealth; its cheaper, smaller forms served the same purpose for those less well-off, though still with money to spare. (1)
This is an example of a small tapestry – maybe a wall-decor or a table cover.
Judith, richly clothed, as befitted a noble woman, is shown at the moment of victory, sword held high. The dress of the maid, half hidden behind her mistress, is simpler, indicative of the designer’s attention to detail as well as the social differentiation.
The flowers include honeysuckle, foxglove, rose, borage, strawberry, marigold, cornflower and foxglove, differing from the selection seen on the arms of Sacheverell. They were probably copied from one of the many plant books imported from Antwerp, easily available by the later part of the century at the bookstalls in St Paul ‘s churchyard. (1)
So once again, Judith has the opportunity to take her grisly prize and wander about the garden. Gives a sense of optimism that after her dangerous and dastardly task, she has the chance to celebrate in her own personal way.