Furnishing fabric, 1855-6

Furnishing fabric, 1855-6

Furnishing fabric
Daniel Walters & Sons (manufacturers)
Braintree, Essex
1855-6
Jacquard-woven silk
Height 139 cm x Width 52 cm
Museum no. 4759A-1859

This high-quality woven silk was made by Daniel Walters & Sons in Braintree in Essex. Walters had been in business since 1820. By the mid-19th century the firm was recognised as the leading British silk manufacturers, and employed between 200 and 300 people. The firm produced silk furnishings for a number of important commissions, including Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. The firm was taken over by Warner & Sons in 1894.

The silk was used to decorate the lower walls of the Ballroom, as part of a decorative scheme designed by Ludwig Gruner (1801-1882) and James Pennethorne (1801-1871), incorporating the national devices of England (Tudor rose), Scotland (thistle) and Ireland (shamrock).

In 1845 the House of Commons granted £150,000 to enlarge Buckingham Palace, which was considered inadequate for royal entertaining. Between 1851 and 1856 a new suite of entertaining rooms was built on the south side of the Palace. This included a ballroom designed by Ludwig Gruner. Prince Albert had significant control over the scheme, which showed his interest in Raphael and Italianate design. The Queen's 'fine new room' was opened with a ball on 8 May 1856; both she and Prince Albert were delighted with it.