Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Seal Purse of Elizabeth I

This seal purse is embroidered with the Great Seal of England and Queen Elizabeth's initials: ER (Elizabeth Regina - Regina being the Latin word for Queen). The Great Seal of Elizabeth was carried in this purse in a procession before the Lord Chancellor and Keeper of the Seal.
Originally, the Seal Purse was a purse of plain white leather but when Elizabeth ascended to the throne, it had developed into an elaborate piece of work - the Tudor rose is embroidered as well.

The Great Seal itself was of extreme importance. It was by this seal that every official document would be marked and if the document did not have the seal on it, it meant that the Queen had not been consulted - and that was a dangerous thing to forget.

It was a tradition that the Lord Chancellor or Keeper of the Great Seal was allowed to keep the Seal Purse when there was no longer any use for it - normally when the monarch in question either died or had another one made. This particular purse was given by Thomas Egerton (Lord Chancellor in 1596) to his servant Henry Jones whose family transformed it into a cushion cover and added the wheat ears at the edge.

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