Let them grumble tattoo art
The artwork for my tattoo of the embroidery

Thank you to Lucy Churchill for alerting me to the fact that the cupboard cloth embroidered with the Anne Boleyn motto “Ainsi sera, groigne qui groigne” with Anne Boleyn’s falcon pecking Catherine of Aragon’s pomegranate is a 21st century fake. I mentioned it in my article on the motto – click here.

Visual artist Suky Best has recently updated her article on the embroidery to include a section on how she was invited by the Garden Museum in Lambeth, formerly St Mary’s Church and the resting place of Elizabeth Boleyn, “to make a piece of work about someone who was buried in the churchyard”. Suky explains how she researched 16th century stitches and style and was advised by the Victoria and Albert Museum’s textile restoration team. Her finished embroidery piece was then exhibited at the “Exhumed at the Museum of Garden History 2003” exhibition.

Now, I checked Suky’s website back in 2021 as I wanted a tattoo of the embroidery, and there was no mention of the piece being fake. I’ve just used Wayback Machine to look at her article on the embroidery and it appears to have been updated in 2022, 19 years after the exhibition!

Now, I have no problem with an artist creating a piece like this, but I do have a problem with the museum displaying it as authentic, that seems very weird. My dear friend Dr Owen Emmerson went to the exhibition and said that it was exhibited as an authentic artefact.

Suky did a wonderful job with it. We know the motto was used by Anne Boleyn and a music book prepared for Anne Boleyn (manuscript 1070 in the collection of the Royal College of Music) has an illustration of Anne Boleyn’s falcon pecking the pomegranate – see here, plus Anne used the falcon with the tree stump as her royal badge. So, Suky used authentic elements in creating her fake cupboard cloth. It really is beautiful.

You can read more, both the fictional story and Suky’s “confession”, on Suky’s website.

Am I bothered that I have this image on my arm, you may ask? No, not all all. The elements are all authentic and, if you saw my video on why I had this tattoo, you’ll know that for me it’s a daily reminder to “let them grumble”! It really helps me! I love it.

An embroidery featuring Anne Boleyn's first motto ainsi sera groigne qui groigne
Suky’s embroidery

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3 thoughts on “The “Let them grumble” cupboard cloth story”
  1. The cloth is beautifully made and could — and did — easily fool anyone. I assume the lack of any mention of its modern origin was an oversight, but it does seem odd. I’d think the fun of planning and executing such a project would be a story the maker would want to tell!

  2. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to check how I knew that it was a fake as early as 2008/9. Perhaps by deduction because the overall exhibition was presented as contemporary take on history.
    I am fairly certain I contacted her at the time, pointing out that her lack of transparency was leading to misunderstanding in the historic community. I certainly gave the link to her website showing that it was the creation of a contemporary artist whenever and wherever I found the image on Facebook and Pinterest during that period. But on-line media moves quickly and wish-fulfilment is often more potent than accuracy.
    However, fan-art is great in itself, and should be celebrated as such. Suky Best’s embroidery is a beautifully rendered artwork and a very powerful image for a tattoo!

    1. It is an absolutely beautiful work and I have no regrets at all about having a tattoo of it as all of the elements are authentic and it reminds me on a daily basis not to let the haters get me down.

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