I have had the following response regarding the church cloth from a Vicar’s
wife in Sedgley, Staffs.
“Any chance this cloth could have been a pall, for placing over
a coffin during a funeral service? Dimensions are only roughly appropriate.
Coffins are about 12" to 18" high and 18" wide, which would
give width of 4' 6" and a bit extra to hang over the edges or for
larger coffins; a 6' coffin (possible) would only have a few inches to
cover the ends, though, if the measurement is 7' exactly. The flowery
decorations on either side of the church depiction would fall rather nicely
along the sides of a coffin.
While it's unlikely to have been an altar cloth for use during services,
it might have been placed on the altar when it wasn't in use, to protect
from dirt, etc. As you say, the picture wouldn't have been easily seen,
though, and a bit wasted.
You could try asking ecclesiastical suppliers such as Wippels or Hayes
and Finch, still in existence and quite high church, if they've any ideas
about uses a century ago, or old catalogues. Or libraries might have catalogues
of local fabric manufacturers. Not sure whether this would be called Jacquard
weaving, or damask, or what. My mum had similar tablecloths, vintage first
half of last century. (It's not quite the kind of thing Cash's produced
as woven pictures, in silk, in Coventry.)”
Sounds as though this might possibly be the function of this cloth.
Valerie Lirakis May 2007 Valerie Lirakis
Great Grand-daughter of Elizabeth Booth (St Marks Teacher)