washing towel

1) In early inventories 'towel' was a word with a wide range of meanings, used of a piece of cloth which could serve as a table napkin, a communion cloth or the covering for the altar in church.

This compound was rare but the OED has two fifteenth-century examples, the earliest in co. Durhamin 1404. In these cases it may have been a cloth used to dry a person's body after washing, possibly a ceremonial washing: 1509 j par de weshyng toweles de diaper, Hedon

1509 one awtercloth ... with on wasshyng towel, York.

places York Hedon
dates 1509

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