Altar frontal and super frontal for the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy. The frontal is of brocade with silk embroidery and metal threads (see "Gallery"). This is probably a later piece, because the chapel was not fitted out for the Royal Victorian Order until 1940, but it shows the standard of work carried out at the Royal School of Needlework, which was founded in 1872 as the School of Art Needlework, with Princess Helena (the Queen's third daughter) as its first president, and was granted its royal title in 1875.

Left: The Victoria Cross. Right: The Coat of Arms on the right is that of the Duchy of Lancaster, to which the Savoy Estate belongs.

According to the RSN's website, the aims of the school were to "revive a beautiful art which had fallen into disuse and, through its revival, to provide employment for educated women who, without a suitable livelihood, would otherwise find themselves compelled to live in poverty." By the time this piece would have been made, the school was well established in its premises on Exhibition Road. The embroiderers here were used to working on very special projects for royalty: in 1901 they had made Queen Victoria’s funeral pall.

The text on the super frontal reads: "Te Deum Laudamus . Te Dominum Confitemur" (the beginning of the old Latin hymn of praise, usually translated as: "We praise thee, O God: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord." The black eagle on the left is the historic heraldic icon of the House of Savoy (the original thirteenth-century Savoy Palace here was built for Count Peter of Savoy); the version of our own Royal Coat of Arms shown on the right, quartered with three French fleurs-de-lis, is also historic, from Tudor times.

Photographs and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Related Material


Gallery: Conservation of Altar & Super Frontal for The Queen's Chapel of the Savoy." Royal School of Needlework. Web. 3 May 2017.

"History." Royal School of Needlework. Web. 3 May 2017.

Created 3 May 2017; last modified 31 October 2023