THE lost dress of Elizabeth I found at a Herefordshire church is to go on display at Hampton Court Palace.

For hundreds of years the richly embroidered dress, now considered to be the only known survival of Elizabethan royal court dress in existence, was used as an altar cloth at Bacton Church.

It has now undergone three years of conservation and research by experts at Historic Royal Palaces – the independent charity that cares for Hampton Court Palace – and will be exhibited for the first time alongside the famous ‘Rainbow Portrait’ featuring a dress of strikingly similar design.

The dress has long been associated with Blanche Parry, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s most faithful servants.

Parry was born and raised in Bacton, but lived most of her life by Elizabeth’s side, eventually becoming her Chief Gentlewoman of the Bedchamber. Records show that Elizabeth regularly gifted her discarded clothing to Parry as one of her closest confidantes, and for years there was speculation that the altar cloth may have a connection to the Queen.

Rev Charles Brothers of Bacton wrote in the parish magazine in 1909 that it may once have been “worn by Queen Elizabeth” and had it framed and hung in the church, but recently it had begun to tear.

It needed storage methods suited to a fragile historic textile and former Church Warden Charles Hunter reached out to museums.

Ruth E Richardson, historian and author of the life of Blanche Parry, championed the importance and rarity of the cloth.

She said: “It’s incredible to find that such a rare treasure has survived here in our beautiful but out-of-the-way church for so many years.”

The exhibition runs from October 12 until February 23, 2020.