Tuesday, 16 August 2011

ABC Wednesday - Embroidery

Embroidery is one of the oldest arts, and a perishable one, what remains from past ages are very precious. Heraldic and Ecclesiastical embroidery was full of the splendour of gold and silver thread but these cushions from the choir stalls of Winchester Cathedral are not luxurious but tell stories and show off the art of needlecraft. The Winchester Cathedral Broderers' Group was founded in 1931 and produced over 600 kneelers, canvas work, cushions and alms bags for the building.  When the cushions that I show were created in the 1930s they were originally laid out on the choir benches to tell a linear historic story, but to prevent wear today they are moved around.  It must be quite interesting for the choristers, as the cushions are moved, to see who they are sitting on today.  I don't think anyone would have be able to 'sit' upon Henry Beaufort (1375-1447), the embroidery shows his cardinal hat, unusually he was both a cardinal bishop and a Plantagenet (his half brother was Henry IV),  heavily involved in the politics of the time and also went into battle. He is possibly most famous for being the interrogator of Joan of Arc and instrumental in condemning  her to death.
It is interesting to see how each Borderer interpreted their story.  Here is Henry VIII, a Tudor and the red dragon of Wales.
The date on this cushion of 1642 is the start of the English Civil War


The first date of 1736 is the date the fund raising work of the Rev Alured Carke came to fruition with the admittance of the first patient into the first hospital founded in Winchester.  The second name will be more familiar, Florence Nightingale, the lady with the lamp, and one of the founders of modern nursing. I do not know the significance of the second date, 1868, but the 1880s was when Florence Nightingale introduced trained nurses into they hospital system so perhaps that is when they arrived at the Winchester Infirmary.

So there is a random selection of ecclesiastical cushions, unfortunately I did not take any pictures of the choir stalls because I was taken with the glitter of the eagle on the lectern in there

Enter ABC Wednesday to see more words starting with the letter E



39 comments:

Sylvia K said...

What a terrific post for the E Day! Incredible quilts and the history is fascinating! Terrific pictures! Hope your week is going well, Joy!

Sylvia

Roger Owen Green said...

these are indeed lovely.
ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Gigi Ann said...

I remember embroidery, I did a little in my younger days, but nothing like in the pictures.

EG Wow said...

It's such a shame that few embroidered articles survive the ages. These pieces are exquisite.

Jane and Chris said...

We don't have embroidered kneelers in our church, just a fold down kneeler covered in leather. I remember having them in England, I loved to see what I'd be kneeling on!
Jane x

Andy said...

Hello.
The pieces are exquisite. Great photos. Thanks for the history.

Evening Wind

Rajesh said...

Impressive embroidery work.

Hildred and Charles said...

Wonderful historic pieces - in my next life I plan to be an embroiderer, rather than a weaver....

Kathy said...

These samples were beautiful. I used to do embroidery but now my eyesight requires a lot of magnification!

Tumblewords: said...

exquisite work!

chubskulit said...

I love the third one.

Epcot's Spaceship Earth, please come and see.

Shooting Parrots said...

I particularly like the English Civil War embroidery and its depiction of the chaos of war.

VioletSky said...

These must be sturdy cushions to have survived so long and for still being used.

Gattina said...

I admire the patience of the people who are able to do this !
Gattina
ABC Team

photowannabe said...

Such equisite work from so long ago. I wish I had the patience to work like that. Great pictures.

Paula Scott said...

I'm surprised an art conservator isn't running after everyone and not letting them sit on that spectacular embroidery-one of which, seems to be an emblem?

ChrisJ said...

Fascinating! I have seen some kneelers in a few old English churches. For some reason I have never been able to sew or embroider, though I paint (in detail) knit and crochet. These are beautiful works of art.

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

Beautiful work. I love how people used to record event and important people in embroidery - useful objects often, as well as decorative.

I must admit, I'm kind of surprised that the cathedral allows these kneelers to be used at all! Not that I think it's wrong to do so, but that it's unusual.

jabblog said...

Such beautiful work in those kneelers. They are wearing very well. I wonder if they will ever be withdrawn from use and replaced with modern interpretations.

Eclipse said...

A great way to preserve the history. Thanks for sharing.

Cildemer said...

Excellent entry for E day! Very interesting! And the embroidery is magnificient!
Thanks for sharing;o)

***
Happy day****

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