Henrician (Tudor) Era Gowns and the use of Buckram

There has been a lot of talk in costuming circles about the use (or lack of) boning and stiffening in 16th Century. My own experiments with it in kirtles has been less then successful. This is my compiled list from wardrobe accounts and the Lisle Letters, dealing with the use of buckram for stiffening in gowns. I’ve left most entries intact for the sake of context rather then cut them down.

Over all there seems to be evidence for the use of buckram in the gown bodices, sleeve heads and at times as pleat padding, rather then in kirtles.

To my lady Princess, 10l. 16th. 12 yds. of black satin for a cloak for lady Anne, 4l. 16s.; black velvet for edging and lining, and black and Bruges satin for lining, 4l. 18s. 8d. 17th. 13 yds. of black satin for a nightgown for lady Anne, at 8s., and taffeta, velvet and buckram for lining. 16½ yds. of green damask, at 8s. a yd., delivered to John Skut for lady Anne’s use. – June 1532

‘Henry VIII: Privy Purse Expences’, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 5: 1531-1532 (1880), pp. 747-762. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=77503&strquery=buckram Date accessed: 10 March 2011.


443. Lady Latimer.
A tailor’s bill for numerous items of cotton, linen, buckram, &c., and the making of Italian gowns, “plyttes and slevys,” “a slope hood and typette,” kirtles, French, Dutch and Venetian gowns, Venetian sleeves, French hoods, &c., of various materials. Total, 8l. 9s. 5d.
Headed : My lady Latymer. Marginal notes (at the beginning), the xvj day of February, anno xxxiiij H. VIIIth,” and (about half way down), “for your daughter.” Signed at the foot, Thomas Arundell, cancell.
Paper roll of 3 leaves. Endd. : Skutt the tailor’s book.

‘Henry VIII: April 1543, 21-25’, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 18 Part 1: January-July 1543 (1901), pp. 254-272. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=76738&strquery=buckram Date accessed: 10 March 2011.


I send by the bearer Cockes, your gown of taffeta, wherein is the placard, and as much taffeta as will make two placards more. Mr. Skutt desires to have 20 dozen quails sent hither by the last day of May. The “stolle” is delivered to my lady of Hertford. Mr. Manchester has the wine, which is scarce worth the receiving. I gave William, Mr. Skutt’s man, 12d. for which he thanks you, and says your gown is faultless. I have delivered your token to my lady Rutland, who says Mrs. Katherine shall be as welcome as her own daughter. My lady Gertrude (fn. 14) is to be married on Tuesday. I have delivered Mrs. Katherine 12 yds. white damask, 2½ yds. carnation velvet. 1 roll of buckram, and ½ yd. of velvet for a partlet. As to the evidences of Packington Pigott, I think my lord knows where they are. I moved my lady Rutland nothing concerning Mrs. Katherine, but what she said was of her own mind. Frosell thanks you for his crossbow, but most of the thread and half the windlass is lost. Surely Mrs. Katharine cannot lack what he can do. London, 25 April.

‘Letters and Papers: April 1539, 21-25′, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 14 Part 1: January-July 1539 (1894), pp. 386-399. URL:http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=75860&strquery=buckram Date accessed: 10 March 2011.


Costs: At Colbroke, 17 June, 2s. Boathire to my lodging, 2d. For my supper and 3 servants, 2s. To the horsekeeper for costs home, 9d. For a marking iron for stools and forms, 12d. For mending the. fire fork at London, 4d. For two pair of schone to my daughter Mary, 4d. Boathire on Sunday to Greenwich, 2s. For writing the indenture between me and Ric. Bysshop and Holt for the plate laid in gage, 2s. 8d. Lost in the borrowing of that 55l., 100s. Lost in the 42l. borrowed of Will. Broun, 4l. 13s. 4d. Sent home to my wife in a box with a letter by W. Thomas’ son, 100s., and by Brasyar, 27 June, 6l. For 10 quires of writing paper, 16d. For 2 English books, viz., the Plowman’s Tale and Colyn Clowte, 10d. To the bonfires to drink, two nights, besides wood, 8d. For 1½yd. cloth ell broad for 3 pair hosen to my wife, 3s. 8d. For 12 yds. tawney chamlet, 32s.; for 2½ yds. tawney velvet geane, 30s.; for a roll of buckram, fine, 3s.; and for making the gown, 5s.—in all, 70s. For 3 hhds. of claret (70s.), with costs to the barge, 73s. 4d. For a weigh of Essex cheese, 8s. and for 12 bundles of rushes, 2s. Sundry payments for joint stools, lodgings, ships for greyhounds, &c. To the agent of John Audelet of Abingdon, at London, to redeem my plate, 100l. For water carriage of wood from Henley, houserent, &c. For writing a release of Huntley and others for Lasbarowe two times, 2s. For carrying the letter to Bradestone by a wainman, 20d. To the warden of New College at Winchester. 3 July 25 Hen. VIII., 33s. 4d. “Gevyn to the wyfes to drynk on Saynt Thomas Evyn at the fyer,” 8d. For W. Frognall’s coat and lining, 15s. For 3¼ yds. for Austeyn’s gown, 11s. 11d. To Benson for carrying home a mail of mine. To Thos. Knighton for costs in the suit of Palmer and Rowley, 4s. 4d. Payments for wages. &c. Costs at Colbroke homeward, 11 July, 2s. 8d. For a black velvet hat, 2s. 8d. For a new pair of spurs, 6d.

‘Henry VIII: February 1534, 26-28’, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 7: 1534 (1883), pp. 91-114. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=79298&strquery=buckram Date accessed: 10 March 2011.


3¾ yds. black satin for a jerkin with sleeves, 8s. a yd.; making it, 20d. 1 yd. black velvet for shoes and slippers, 10s. 6d. 7 yds. white satin delivered to Master Peryent for a kirtle for my Lady, 7s. 6d. the yd. Translating a black velvet gown for Mr. Barkeley, 20d. 2 yds. of buckram to line the upper sleeves, at 6d. a yd. 1½ q. purple satin for my Lady’s garters, 5s. 3 yds. black satin for a doublet, 8s. a yd.; lining and making, 3s. 4d. 3 yds. tawny satin for a doublet, at 8s. 4d.; lining and making, 3s. 4d. Making a new partelet of a tawny velvet gown. 1½ yds. black satin for a partelet, at 8s. 9 yds. kendal for a coat for my Lord, at 16d. 8 yds. taffata sarcenet for a gown, at 8s.; making the gown with Burgundian guards of black velvet, 5s. 3¼ yds. of green cloth for a riding coat, at 5s. 4d.; for making the coat, bordered and welted, three borders in the middle of the base, and three on the skirts, 4s.; 3½ yds. green velvet for bordering it, at 12s.; 4½ yds. of cotton for lining the base, at 6d. 1½ yds. black satin for a hat, at 7s.; for a felt, and making the hat, 2s. 4d.;½ yd. of sarcenet for lining it, and for a tippet, 2s. 3½ yds. gray cloth for a base and a short coat, at 6s. 8d.¾ yd. Lukys black velvet for a bonnet, at 16s., &c.

‘Henry VIII: December 1527, 26-31’, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4: 1524-1530 (1875), pp. 1653-1672. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=91306&strquery=buckram Date accessed: 10 March 2011


His apparel.—2 long gowns and a marten’s fur. 2 doublets, one of taffeta, “another for stokks of velvet.”— velvet jerkins. 3 gowns of his “wyves;” one furred with shanks, the other lined with taffeta, purfled broad with velvet, the other lined with buckram purfled with velvet. 2 kirtles of tawny camlet; one silk, the other coarse. I velvet bonnet with 3 velvet frontlets. 2 pair of silk sleeves and a velvet stomacher. A man’s taffeta riding hood. A woman’s hood of fine cloth, lined with violet.

‘Henry VIII: December 1526, 21-31’, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4: 1524-1530 (1875), pp. 1212-1232. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=91274&strquery=buckram Date accessed: 10 March 2011.


My Lady’s gowns.—Black velvet, with white sleeves, bordered at the nether edge with ermines powdered, and the sleeves furred with the same; crimson satin, without sleeves or lining, bordered at the nether edge with cloth of gold, wanting part at the foreskirts; black tinsel with strait sleeves and a deep crimson velvet border, and lined with black buckram; 2 little gowns, black tinsel and black damask, for a child; a fur of lettes for a gown, bordered with ermines powdered; fur of ermines powdered for a pair of wide sleeves and 2 pair of cuffs.
‘Henry VIII: April 1523, 16-30’, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 3: 1519-1523 (1867), pp. 1250-1265. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=91118&strquery=buckram Date accessed: 10 March 2011.


3 linings for your summer gowns; one faced with black satin, and satin of cypres behind; the second, damask and chamlet; the third, tapheta of 2 forequarters.

A woman’s “round” gown, furred with squirrel; another, of russet, furred with black budge. A brown-blue gown, lined with buckram, and purfelyd with black velvet. A woman’s medley gown, lined with satin of cypres. Kyrtles of black worsted and black saye. A carved image of our Lady. A black velvet bonnet, with a frontlet of tawny velvet. A letuse cappe. 2 velvet partlets with a gold button. 2 pair of velvet foresleeves. An old purple velvet purse. A little pair of jet beads. A black velvet hat, trimmed with tinsel satin. A coif of Venice gold. A little chest of Flanders work, covered with yellow leather and bound with iron. 3 pieces of black chamlet. A woman’s gown, lined with satin of cypres. A woman’s black round gown, lined with bokeram, and wide sleeves lined with black velvet.

‘Henry VIII: June 1527, 16-30′, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4: 1524-1530 (1875), pp. 1447-1465. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=91290&strquery=buckram Date accessed: 10 March 2011


Catherine of York household book

Necessaries for my Lady.—For Philippe, the maid, marriage money, 6l. 13s. 4d. A quarter and a nail of tawney velvet for my Lady’s purse, 3s. 9d. A skein of silk for ditto, 2d. An ounce of tawney silk for string, 14d. A quarter of buckram for lining, 2d. 5 yds. buckram for Philippa’s gown, 2s. 11d. A quarter and a half of velvet, 4s. 3d. ½ yd. linen cloth, 2½d.; anglets, 1d. A yd. linen cloth to collar her smock with, 8d. Two neckerchiefs, 10d. Two aprons, 9d. A ribbon, 9d. A pin case, 16d. A pair of knives, 6d. A lace, 3d. Two headkerchiefs, 2s. 8d. A wedding ring, 3s. 4d. For mending my Lady’s white fur, 2s. 8d. 8 ells of fine Holland, at 3s. 4d. 4 ells cambric at 8d. A skin of pampilion for my Lady’s cuffs, 2s. 6d. 4 lettys skins for her sloppe, 16d.; powdering and mending the same, 12d. Mending another furred with powdered ermines, 2s. 2d. Five black coney skins to a pattlett of velvet, and furring the same, 2s. 10d. 6 black budgeskins, 16 black lambskins, 12 pampilion skins for my Lady’s slop, 15s. 4d. Paid to Peryman for covering a hat with white sarcenet for my Lady, and making a gown, a kirtle, and a petticoat for Phillippa against she was married, 3s. 6d. A quarter velvet more for the maid’s gown, 3s. 3½ yds. buckram, 2s. 1d. “For lining and agnetts to the playtes,” 10d. For a cap to the maid, 3s. 4d. To my Lady for [offerings ?] on All Souls’ day, 6s. 8d. To the Grey and Black Friars of Exeter, on All Souls’ day, 6s. 8d. For my Lady’s offering on All Saints’ day, 12d. To Mrs. Agnes Corteney, by my Lady’s commandment, on All Saints’ day, 13s. 4d. 3 yds. velvet for Phillippa the maid’s wedding gown, 15s. 2 yds. for her kirtle, 8s. 4½ yds. white for her petticoat, 2s. 7½d. 6½ yds. white, for lining to her kirtle plaits, and plaits to her gown, 3s. 3d. 4¼ yards fine black [velvet ?] for my Lady’s slop, 29s. 9d. For covering her hat, 8d. For making of Phylippe the launderer’s wedding gown, petticoat and kirtle, 3s. 6d. To a clerk for making certain articles betwixt my Lady and the poor man of Cornwall, of whom she bought land, 20d. Alms for the Christmas quarter, 20s. Two soldiers, 25 Dec., 16d. Her offering on Christmas day, … For making and enamelling two buckles, two pendants, six studs, six “hoyletts,” and 8 agletts for gold and for enamel for my Lord’s garter, for his New Year’s gift, … My Lady’s offering at Epiphany, 3s. 4d. For making the king and Queen’s New Year’s gift, 20l. To Lyne, of London, waxchandler, for wax for my lord William, for the year, 41s. 10d. For six skins of pampilion for my Lady, 20s. For two pieces of Paris for my Lady, 20s. One piece of Lampas Tuke, 4s. 1,000 white pins, 8d.; ditto, black, 7d. To the prior of the Black Friars, London, for the whole year’s singing for my lord William, 5l. 6s. 8d. My lord of St John’s, in full payment of all actions between him and my Lord, 26l. 13s. 4d. A yard of black satin, 8s. 1d. For 3 frontlets for New Year’s gifts, 21s. 3 yds. black satin for New Year’s gifts, 22s. 6d. New Year’s gifts to all the officers of the house, 3l. 10s. To the King’s servant bringing the King’s New Year’s gift, 3l. 6s. 8d.; for the Queen’s gift, 53s. For 16 pair of double hose for my Lady, … To my lord of Devonshire, 100l. Mr. Gilberd, for the King’s payment, 55l. 2 yds. linen cloth, 20d. To Mr. Forest, for physic to my Lady, 10s. 4d. To the King’s collectors, for my Lady, 16 [s.?]. ½ yd. linen cloth for my Lady, to make “nygtes coweys,” 9d. 3 yds. small canvas, 2s. On Candlemas day, for my Lady “to putt in the yowry (?),” 3s. 4d.; for her offering the same day, 20d. For 2 pair of gemos (?) for my Lady’s press in the wardrobe, 8d. For 3 yds. canvas to make a book of cloth, 15d. To the prior of the Black Friars of Exeter, for preaching before my Lady at Colum John, 6s. 8d. To Mr. Morys, the physician, coming to my Lady, 21 March, 40s. To the warden of the Grey Friars, Exeter, for a sermon on Good Friday, 6s. 8d. Offerings at divers times, 20 … One doz. gloves for my Lady, … To Mr. Forest, for medicine, 5l. 16s. 4d. To the parson of Rew, for mending my Lady’s “cup of ale,” 3s. 13 tree dishes for the Maunday on Serthrosday, 10d. 13 cups, 5d. 13 purses, and every purse 20d., given by my Lady to poor folks. For xx. . broad yards di’ black, 32s. 6d. 3 broad yards di’ for my Lady’s … 11s. 8d. For my Lady’s slop, 12d. 13 pair of shoes, 4s. 4d. 13 smocks, … Her offering on Whitsunday, 12d. For fetching Mr. Morys, of Cornwall, when my Lady was sick, his costs and his servant’s, 8s. Offering at requiem mass, 10 June, 8d. “That my Lady’s grace gave to my Lord towards his business ayenst that my Lady should have child,” 20l. For alms, 4l. 4s. Various counts for linen. ½ doz. gloves, 18d. 12 pair of hose, 21s. For fetching Mr. Parkhowse when my Lady was sick, 1s. To Mr. Forest, for physic, 7l. 15s. 8d. Total, 523l. 7s. 2¾d.

‘Henry VIII: October 1524, 21-25’, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4: 1524-1530 (1875), pp. 332-346. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=91211&strquery=buckram Date accessed: 10 March 2011


Since my arrival I have sent you various letters and cloth for your liveries, which I hope have arrived long since. This day I received of Barthilmew your letter with the two gowns, which are already in hand, and shall be mended according to order. I have delivered to Mr. Skutt 1¾ yds. Lywkes velvet for the upper bodies and placards, and 2½ yds. of the best black satin for lining the sleeves. He thanks you for the two dozen quails. I have further delivered him 15 yds. Lywkes velvet and a roll of buckram for your gown, and 6 yds. Lywkes velvet for your kirtle, &c. I will bring them with me to Dover. I think the satin Barthilmew delivered to Tong will be made out of hand. I have tarried here all this while for the coming of James, but as my Lord’s pleasure is otherwise there is no remedy. I have received of Barthilmew 4l. for the travers. I will do my best, but it will be Michaelmas before I can have it; “and then if there he any carpets he hath made me a grant of them.” Barthilmew will send you two gowns with the first, or I, after my return from Court. As to the spoon, my Lord’s pleasure must be fulfilled. Mr. Basset has received his chest, and no doubt will save his apparel well. I think the matter you willed me to remember to him can be remedied. As for the tassel, I hear nothing of Mr. Yeo. Will. Sendy knows it were folly to write to me if he displease your ladyship, I send three letters that came out of Devonshire. John Gough wants his reward. He owes money to Mr. Thos. Fowler, and has written to Mr. Fowler to receive it of your ladyship. London, 21 Aug. Hol., pp. 2. Add.

‘Henry VIII: August 1538 21-25’, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 13 Part 2: August-December 1538 (1893), pp. 57-75. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=75790&strquery=buckram Date accessed: 10 March 2011.


Item. 1½ yd. of crimson satin. 3 yds. of crimson taffeta to line her velvet gown. 2 yds. of black satin for her gown. To send 4 cr. to buy white fur for her black satin gown. For making 2 gowns, 1 cr. 2 yds. of black buckram, to line the two gowns in the bodies. 3 yds. of frieze, to line the pleats of the gowns after their use. ½ yd. of white satin, to make habiliments for her head. 5 yds. of white satin for a kirtle. 2½ yds. of red cloth to line her kirtle. 17 pieces of goldsmith’s work. A flat gold chain “as the dothe … to wear there.” 12 cr.
P. 1.
‘Henry VIII: June 1533, 1-5’, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 6: 1533 (1882), pp. 262-275. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=77553&strquery=buckram Date accessed: 10 March 2011


I sent by Vernham the two pieces saves. When your glasses come Lawden will see them conveyed. If I have not the travers by Whitsuntide I will speak no more for it. The old damask gown you sent will never be good tawny, but will take a good black. The abbot of Westminster will not meddle with the wine, and I have appointed his coper to choose two tuns where he will. I pray God I may have no more ado with monks. The two pieces wine my Lord sent for his own store are very good; the other four hogsheads are but easy. I have had them conveyed to Blag’s cellar, your grocer, to be new hooped and filled. Lady Rutland and Mrs. Katharine send commendations. If my Lord had not been sick he would have ridden northwards, but he has delayed 12 or 14 days. My Lady thanks you for the wine you sent her last. She wishes to procure two tuns, one of French, one of Gascon, but will have none unless she pay for it. She is very glad to have Mrs. Katharine with her. On Monday I delivered Skut 2½ yds. velvet and a roll of buckram for her gown, and to Tong 2 ells red taffeta and 2 yds. satin of Brygges for her kirtle. A bonnet of velvet I have received of Mrs. Whalley. This gear will be conveyed to her by Larck, to whom I have given 12d. for horse hire. I gave Mrs. Katharine 20s. in her purse, which is with the least, seeing she goetb so far; howbeit my Lady saith she shall lack nothing. She wishes 3 ells of fine hollaud cloth for sleeves, partletts, and mufflers. If the wine be sent it must be delivered at Helywell.

‘Henry VIII: May 1538, 16-20’, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 13 Part 1: January-July 1538 (1892), pp. 372-383. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=75773&strquery=buckram Date accessed: 10 March 2011


My lord and lady Rutland are in good health and thank you for your wine and your herrings. My lady has given me “a gown of Kaffa damask of her own old wearing,” and will take no refusal. I have spoken to Mr. Husse for a roll of buckram to new line it, and velvet to edge it withal. My lady Rutland says that Mother Lowe, the mother of the Dutch maids, may do much for my preferment to the Queen. I have received of Ravenfferd 2 crowns. Wants a ke[r]tyll for every day. Commendations to my lord and my sisters. My brother George is in good health and is here in Court with Sir Francis Brian. Yorkes Place, 17 Feb.
Add.: at Calais.

‘Henry VIII: February 1540, 11-20’, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 15: 1540 (1896), pp. 70-82. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=76161&strquery=buckram Date accessed: 10 March 2011

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.