A box filled with perfectly preserved clothing from a 17th-century shipwreck turns out to be from the English Royal Court.
The luxurious wardrobe was discovered near Texel, and belonged to the royal court of the English Queen Henrietta Maria. The queen was travelling to the Netherlands on a secret mission when one of her baggage ships sunk in the Wadden Sea in March 1642.
The now famous silk gown is gorgeously decorated and is in near-perfect condition. It is the showpiece of a larger archaeological find and is currently on display in the Netherlands. Maarten van Bommel, a conservation scientist at the University of Amsterdam, said in a statement:
“We have seldom — perhaps even never — witnessed a find of this scale in a maritime context.”
Researchers believe that it most likely belonged to Jean Kerr, Countess of Roxburghe (c. 1585-1643), lady-in-waiting and confidante to Queen Henrietta Maria (1609-1669). Jean was one of two ladies-in-waiting whose clothes were lost with the ship, however, the style and size of the gown strongly indicates that it would have belonged to Kerr, who was the elder of the two.
The shipwreck was discovered in the Wadden Sea, off the island of Texel, and is part of the Netherlands. The narrow waterway would have been a place to anchor while waiting for cargo or to wait out bad weather. As a result, it’s a graveyard of hundreds of ships that sank during rough storms.
Archaeologists retrieved the clothing box that was filled with many different pieces of apparel, which included a cloak, stockings, and bodices decorated with an astounding amount of gold and silver thread.
All the clothing was around the same size, which suggests that it was most likely the wardrobe of one woman. There was also Italian pottery, a beaded handbag, a silver chalice, perfumes, and book covers emblazoned with the seal of the Royal House of Stuart in England.