The mystery chocolate wrappers and one of the Mortlake tapestries under conservation

As many will know two of the tapestries from the State Drawing room are undergoing conservation. What we didn’t expect to find behind them were chocolate wrappers! It was a great surprise to the textile conservators who discovered the two remarkably well preserved Cadbury chocolate bar wrappers inside the linings. They were found low in the border, neatly folded and still brightly coloured. This was a great mystery as the tapestries had not been moved since the 1830’s and all the edges were sealed.

The archivist at the Cadbury museum has dated the wrapper designs to the mid/late 1930’s and my suspicions have turned to mischievous Penrhos College girls who were sleeping in the State Drawing room. The conservators have confirmed that there are some splits higher in the design and it seems most likely that the wrappers were slipped through these splits and over time have slipped and settled behind the border. I like to think that this is the result of a student having to hide the evidence, maybe after an illicit midnight feast? They certainly got away with it as it’s taken around 76 years for their secret to emerge.

Susie Stokoe

Textile Department Supervisor
You can find out more secrets from the tapestries at our next Winter talk on 27 February.
Winter talk series
Secrets behind the Mortlake tapestries
27 February 2015

Find out a bit more about the Mortlake tapestry conservation.

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