Embroidered Casket at Pennsbury Manor

Sharing the Common Wealth showcases objects, artifacts, documents, structures and buildings from the collections of PHMC.

Affluent seventeenth-century English families sent their daughters to boarding school to learn embroidery, writing, dancing, reading, and music. By her late teens, a young woman was expected to complete an embroidery project as the culmination of her needlework education. Among her common choices were baskets, looking glass frames, and dressing boxes, or caskets. If she chose a casket, she would then engage a cabinetmaker to assemble the embroidered panels. Founder William Penn’s country house, Pennsbury Manor, near Morrisville, in Bucks County, holds a circa 1650 needlework casket embroidered with biblical vignettes and scenes from nature, both popular themes. This striking example also contains fitted drawers, secret compartments, bottles, a writing set, and a decorative engraving.