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Wallpaper as a wall-covering in its own right or as a substitute for textiles, was in use in England from the beginning of the 16th century. The earliest wallpaper to survive dates to about 1509, found in Cambridge. It has a conventional pomegranate design of a type introduced into England through Italian silk brocades imported in the 15th century (Teynac et al. 1982, 18).

Ceiling paper, Cambridge <em>c</em>. 1509 (after Teynac <em>et al</em>. 1982, 18)
Figure 10: Ceiling paper, Cambridge c. 1509 (after Teynac et al. 1982, 18)

Patterns for designs include scrolling stems and tendrils, formalised blooms decorated with lines, cross-hatching and dots (ibid, 19). Although few printed papers survive, it is assumed that in 16th-century Britain and France, they were used as decoration in modest middle class homes (ibid, 19-20). In the 16th and 17th centuries, all ranks of society used paper for decorative purposes (ibid, 21).

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Last updated: Wed Mar 24 2004