Hanging in the Ambulatory is a tapestry depicting Christ and 2 disciples at Emmaus.
According to an article in The Times, 20 August 1888, this tapestry had been recently found in the Chapter Library, cleaned and hung in the choir opposite Katherine of Aragon’s oriel window. It was repaired and framed in 1933 and hung in the nave, before being moved to the Ambulatory where it is now displayed. But where had it originally come from?
The tapestry shows Christ and his disciples at supper and was woven at Mortlake during the reign of Charles I. The Mortlake Tapestry Works were establised on the Thames in west London in 1619 by Sir Francis Crane, making use of the skills of immigrant Flemish workers. The Mortlake Tapestry Works were one of the most famous of their day, celebrated across Europe for the quality of their work. Their mark was the shield of St George, and it is partly from the success of the tapestry works that Sir Francis Crane was able to establish the Crane Foundation, set up to support the Military Knights of Windsor.
The tapestry was presented to the Dean and Canons by Lady Mordaunt, wife of John Mordaunt, Constable of the Castle and Royalist rebel, shortly after the Restoration of the monarchy and the return of Chapter to St George’s Chapel. It was intended to hang before the Altar, described as being after an original by Titian and was given at the instance of Dr Brown. [Inventory made 20 July 1667]. An entry in the Chapter Acts shows that Lady Mordaunt was given leave to lodge in Dr Brown’s house for the time of her lying in [SGC VI.B.3; 2 October 1665] and perhaps the tapestry was given in gratitude for this. It hung in the south quire aisle until the reign of George III when it appears to have disappeared until its rediscovery in 1887.
According to tradition the original painting depicts Emperor Charles V, Katherine’s uncle, as Christ, and the faces of the disciples being those of Philip II of Spain and Cardinal Ximenes, Prime Minister of Charles V.
Eleanor (Assistant Archivist)