New Nottingham exhibition showcases rare clothing of the Medieval East Midlands

The fascinating story of the pioneering medieval textile industry in the East Midlands is being revealed in a new exhibition at the University of Nottingham Museum.

Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 5:00 pm

Cultures of Cloth in the Medieval East Midlands shows how our medieval ancestors in the county and beyond designed and made the cloth and clothing for which the region became famous.

For the first time, the public can see collections from around the East Midlands in one place at the Museum, based at Lakeside Arts on University Park.

The exhibition examines how textiles were the most important manufactured product in the medieval world and were a driving force of medieval society and economy.

A beautifully made replica of the Coleorton Tunic.

English wool from the Midlands was famous across Europe, and English woollen fabrics were in high demand. It brings together a wide variety of objects related to cloth production, trade and consumption. These range from tools for spinning and weaving, to brooches and buckles that once decorated medieval clothing, as well as some rare examples of medieval garments that have stood the test of time and survive today.

One very special object on display is the Coleorton Tunic, which was excavated in 1988 at the site of a medieval and Tudor opencast mine near Coleorton in Leicestershire.

It dates to the 16th century and is one of only a handful of surviving items of early clothing that belonged to a working person. It is not currently on permanent display and so this exhibition provides the wonderful opportunity to see it alongside a beautifully made replica.

Dr Chris King from the University of Nottingham’s department of classics and archaeology said: “It’s rare for textiles to survive in the archaeological record, but wool and cloth once dominated the lives and landscapes of the medieval midlands.

“Together, the objects in our exhibition show how textiles drew together networks of farmers, craftspeople and merchants across the medieval world and wove together the fabric of medieval life.”

Collections have been brought together from Nottingham City Museums and Galleries, Leicestershire County Council Museums, Bassetlaw Museum, National Civil War Centre, and Derby Museums.

Dr Clare Pickersgill, keeper of the University of Nottingham Museum said: “It really is wonderful to bring these fascinating collections together and work with colleagues throughout the region to develop this exhibition. Alongside the exhibition there is also a programme of gallery tours and talks.”

The exhibition is now open and closes on February 20, 2022. Opening times are Thursday and Sunday 12noon to 4pm.

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