The remarkable story of a 400 year old dress found in a shipwreck

DP Royal

DP Royal

2016-04-22 11:44:16

Great story! This is a 400 year old silk dress which was found in a shipwreck just off the Dutch coast and its discovery has shed light on a daring secret mission to pawn the crown jewels on the eve of the English Civil War. 

The dress, which is surprisingly well preserved considering its age, was actually found two years ago but has been kept under wraps while experts traced its origins. 

It is thought to have belonged to the Countess of Roxburghe Jean Kerr who was lady-in-waiting to Queen Henrietta Maria, the consort of Charles I. The dress was lost when part of a Royal fleet of 12 ships travelling from Dover to Hellevoetsluis in the Netherlands in 1642 sank in bad weather.  

The purpose of this journey on paper was to bring Charles I’s nine-year-old daughter Mary to join her husband, William II, Prince of Orange though the actual reason was to pawn the crown jewels through the contacts of Elizabeth Stuart to raise money for the Royalist Army. 

Other items picked up from the wreck include a 17th century etui (a kind of cosmetic bag), a pomander, books and a comb-all of which were buried in the seabed, protecting them from erosion.

If you'd like to see these remarkable pieces of history, they will be on display at the Kaap Skil Museum on the island of Texel until 16 May.

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