Historical Context

Bishop's CopeThe Allerton Cope dates from the later fifteenth century or first part of the  sixteenth century.  The cope is decorated with a type of embroidery called opus anglicanum, the Latin designation for English medieval embroidery. The background material is made of satin weave silk (probably Italian).  It is embroidered principally with silver gilt thread and coloured silks mostly floss, both of which would also have been imported.

Read more: The Allerton Cope

The Allerton Cope (circa 1490)

Some unanswered questions

(With thanks to Fiona Torrens-Spence for researching this article and giving us permission to include it here)

The Allerton Cope (a mantle worn by a church man) is one of history’s unresolved mysteries. It was discovered at the bottom of a coffer in Allerton church in the nineteenth century and was given to Somerset County Museum. 

Analysis showed that it dated back to pre-Reformation times, and even today it is possible to see that the cope was once a thing of great beauty.  The embroidery of the assumption of the Virgin Mary is exquisite and even the details of the cherubs’ tiny faces are beautifully worked.  The fabric out of which the cope was made and the richly coloured embroidery threads which once gave the cloak an alluring glitter, were extremely expensive and included silver threads. It was as much a treasure in its own period as it is today.

Read more: The Allerton Cope (circa 1490) Some unanswered questions

Cost Of Restoration

The total cost of restoration will be £5000

Friends of the County Museum has donated £2000
The Allerton History Society £1000
Somerset County Council £500
Allerton Harvest Home £300

This leaves a shortfall of £1200 and the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society are currently being approached for a contribution towards the cost.

The History Society would like to have a series of photographs of the Cope and its restoration which will be displayed in the Church.

Gerald Prince Secretary 01934 710261