Silkewerk - Braiding Manuscripts
and their derivative publications
"Tollemache Book of Secrets"
A 15th century household book belonging to Lady Catherine Tollemache. The original is privately owned by the Tollemache family. Contains directions for 64 braids.
- GRIFFITHS, Jeremy and A.S.G Edwards. The Tollemache Book of Secrets: A Descriptive Index and Complete Facsimile with an introduction and transcriptions together with Catherine Tollemache's Receipts of Pastry, Confectionary Etc. London: The Roxburghe Club, 2001.
- Facsimile of the original manuscript along with an easier to read transcription.
- Available from Maggs Rare Books in England. VERY expensive.
- SPEISER, Noémi. Old English Pattern Books for Loop Braiding: A Monograph Critically Comparing English Instructions from the 15th and the 17th Century. Arboldswil, Switzerland: Published by the author, 2000.
- Modernized text, instructions, and analyses of the braids from the Tollemache Book of Secrets, in addition to some 17th century manuscripts. Heavy into structure theory, not very user-friendly, but a very good resource.
- Try Amazon.com or spin/weave suppliers for copies. Apx. $50 - $60 new.
"Harleian 2320 - Article 4, ff 52r-70v"
Another 15th century household book. Contains directions for 40 braids, with a 41st one left incomplete. The instructions are nearly (but not exactly) identical to Tollemache. The original is held by the British Library. It is available in digitized format at the British Library Website.
- STANLEY, E.G. "Directions for Making Many Sorts of Laces," in Beryl Rowland, ed., Chaucer and Middle English Studies in Honor of Rossell Hope Robbins. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1974. (pp 89-104)
- Contains a transcription of the braiding portion of Harleian ms 2320, with special attention paid to the etymology of the original text.
- Often available used.
- BENNS, Elizabeth and Gina Barrett. Tak v Bowes Departed: A 15th Century Braiding Manual Examined. London: Soper Lane, 2006. ISBN: 0954268060
- Discusses the background of the original manuscript, etc. Concludes with modern instructions to make each of the braids.
- For more information or to order a copy see: Tak V Bowes Departed
"Serene" also called "Natura Exenterata: or Nature Unboweled"
A 17th century book focusing primarily on medical extractions, it also includes sections on household arts. The book was puportedly authored by Aletheia Talbot Howard, Countess of Arundel, however individual sections are credited to additional authors. The section on braiding is attributed to Elizabeth Serene.
- PHILIATROS. Natura exenterata, or, Nature unbowelled by the most exquisite anatomizers of her [microform] : wherein are contained, her choicest secrets digested into receipts, fitted for the cure of all sorts of infirmities, whether internal or external, acute or chronical, that are incident to the body of man / collected and preserved by several persons of quality and great experience in the art of medicine, whose names are prefixed to the book ... ; whereunto are annexed, many rare, hitherto un-imparted inventions, for gentlemen, ladies and others, in the recreations of their different imployments ; with an exact alphabetical table referring to the several diseases, and their proper cures. Printed for, and are to be sold by H. Twiford ... G. Bedell ... and N. Ekins ..., London: 1655.
- Original copies ocassionally show up in auction houses, and some libraries list copies in their holdings.
- An electronic copy is available through Early English Books Online (EEBO) for subscribing institutions.
- Electronic copies (PDFs) of select portions can be found in several places: