A shadow of a former self: analysis of an early 17th-century boy's doublet from Abingdon
Richardson, Catherine and Hamling, Tara (eds.)
Everyday Objects: Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture and its Meanings.
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In 1994 the fragmentary remains of a boy's doublet were found under the attic floorboards of 26a East St Helen Street, Abingdon. The practice of placing domestic artifacts in wall cavities, next to doors, in chimney spaces or between floors has been studied by a range of scholars and the act of concealment has been linked to a wish to seek protection against evil spirits. Whatever the motivation in this instance, putting the doublet under the floorboards has ensured the survival of a very rare example of clothing worn by a boy, aged about 5 or 6, who may have lived in the house in the early seventeenth century. At first glance the crumpled doublet is not readily accessible as a historical document, yet it has the potential to be an eloquent source of information about the clothing worn by the middling sort. It can provide information about cut and construction that is rarely recorded in written records, as well as examples of English cloth that was produced for the domestic market. At this time Abingdon was a Berkshire market town, a river port and from 1556 it was an incorporated borough with a basis in weaving and a range of associated trades such as dyeing and finishing. By drawing on this context, this paper will explore the ways in which one small object can provide brief insights into the production and consumption of textiles as part of daily life in Abingdon.
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