Green Baize

You can find references to the cost of various clothing materials (see Barbara Johnson’s Album: see A Lady of Fashion ,Barbara Johnson’s Album of styles and fabrics, but not baize.

However, we have found some references which may explain the alacrity with which Mrs. Norris made off with the baize.

Baize was used in the 18th and 19th centuries to protect carpets from possible sun damage when not in use.

Thomas Sheraton discussed the practice of covering carpets in his Cabinet Dictionary (1803) noting that “bays” was used “to cover over carpets, and made to fit round the room, to save them.”

Apparently loose carpets had loose covers, wall-to-wall carpets often had specially fitted covers that could be attached to the floor.

Although leather covers occasionally were used to protect inlaid wooden floors in the 18th century, woolen textiles were preferred for covering carpets, probably because leather would more easily tear from a shoe heel sinking into the resilient carpet beneath. Baize, as we know a felt like fabric made from wool.

We have found (for once!) an American reference to this practice on the web: the “Elegant Turkey carpet” in Aaron Burr’s New York residence was protected by “a Carpet of Blue Bays.”

Sir Lawrence Dundas (who owned Moor Park in Hertfordshire, where the infamous apricot was bred) had in the front room of his London townhouse, “A large Carpet, [and] A green baize cover to do.”

Can’t you just imagine Mrs. Norris being the type of person who would not allow the sun’s rays on her carpet? As she didn’t entertain I should imagine that baize cover would be in position till it wore out, and then the ‘enormous roll’ she hoarded would be used to provide another cover.