Natalie holds an MA by Research in History from the University of Hertfordshire, and a BA Hons. degree in English Literature from the University of Southampton.

Research interests

The title of Natalie’s MA by Research Dissertation:

‘Speaking Stiches, Laughing Flowers: an Emblematic re-interpretation of the ‘Rainbow’ Portrait of Elizabeth I’


‘The imagery of the ‘Rainbow’ Portrait of Elizabeth I which hangs at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire has been the subject of numerous academic investigations. However, few have addressed in satisfactory depth the many emblematic references that appear in the painting. Additionally, little research has been done to interpret the painting through an understanding of the material properties of the objects and clothing which it depicts. Through an interdisciplinary investigation this dissertation draws on evidence from Cesare Ripa’s emblem collection, the Iconologia (first published in 1593), combined with an examination of the Bacton Altar Cloth embroidery, c. 1590 -1600, currently being conserved by Historic Royal Palaces, supported by analysis of contextual source materials including John Gerard’s The Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes and other ‘herbal’ texts, a selection of contemporary portraits, and poetry and theatrical dialogues from John Davies and William Shakespeare, to reveal a number of previously un-discussed visual references in the ‘Rainbow’ Portrait. These findings serve to aid our understanding of this enigmatic painting, and the intentions of its probable commissioner: Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury.’


Following her undergraduate degree Natalie worked as a bespoke dressmaker for 2 years. She then moved to London to work in fashion design as a sample machinist and hand sewing specialist, making clothes for the catwalk at London Fashion Week for designers including Giles Deacon and Matthew Williamson, and for independent design labels supplying high-street retailers including TopShop and Selfridges. She dealt primarily with embroidery and bead-work embellishment.

In 2014 she set up a small design label of her own which specialised in bead-work, print and embellishment. The design focused on stylised natural forms of animals and plants, and high quality metallic prints with hand-stitched bead-work embroidery. One of her designs, featuring a golden robin motif printed on a Christmas jumper, was worn by comedienne Aisling Bea on an episode of 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, for Channel 4.

In 2017 she began sewing reconstruction costume garments for the Tudor Living History group at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, and in 2018 she began her MA by Research at the University of Hertfordshire.

To find out more about Natalie’s experience and background, please get in touch via the Contact page.

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