Also known as ‘Bayes’, ‘Baize’ and various other spellings, it’s a type of plain woven goods with a worsted warp and woollen or weft.
Made from at least the C16th in Essex but later also in Lancashire, it was largely superceded by Serge by the end of the C18th, though occasionally examples from the early C19th can be found. The loose texture makes Bay unsuitable as a material for outer garments but the soft draps and ability to trap air make it ideal for inexpensive linings for garments made of Broadcloth or Kersey.
Like Serge some pieces were milled to give them more body and were used for applications requiring greater density,
It lasted longer, particularly in the milled form, as a material for lining case furniture (cases for cutlery, pistols and so on) and on the bases of boxes to prevent them scratchig the surfaces they were placed on. It was also used as a general packaging material, and can be thought of as the ‘bubblewrap’ of the C18th.
Specific Types include:
Common Bay: Coarse quality with woollen weft used (among other things) for linings of Infantry Privates’ clothing prior to 1797. It was also give names such as ‘Colchester’, ‘Bocking’ (or ‘Buckham’), and ‘Coggeshall’ to reflect the place of manufacture.
Milled Bay: A version which has been milled, causing the woollen weft to shrink and cover the warp to some extent. The added density gives greater warmth and some padding effect for use in fitted cases for cutlery, pistols, plate, swords, etc etc.