with Rosemary Green
on 07 February 2017
At our first meeting of 2017, Rosemary Green talked about ‘The Guild’s Collection’. In 1906, sixteen ex-students of the Royal School of Art Needlework formed the Society of Certificated Embroideresses to deal entirely with embroidery and to keep a high standard in the art. In 1920 it was renamed the Embroiderers’ Guild. At the start, a series of boxes and portfolios called Model Boxes were created, containing embroideries, photographs and articles on embroidery. These were circulated to members and also to the WI. In 1925, Queen Mary became the Patroness of the Guild, presenting it with embroideries from around the world. So the embryo of the collection from royal and humbler donations was started. It has continued to grow ever since through donations from patrons and leading practitioners. Pieces are selected because they are significant historically or are fine examples. There are now 11,000 catalogued items, ranging from the 16th century to the present day. These are housed at Buckinghamshire County Museum, where there is also a space where they will be exhibited.
Alongside the history of the collection, Rosemary showed us detailed images of diverse pieces, from the smallest piece, no bigger than a 5p coin, to the largest piece, 4m in length. The oldest piece is a small piece of Coptic woven cloth. There was a pair of 400 year old white, deerskin gloves, decorated with silver lace. Detachable, embroidered pockets to adorn fashionable Georgian clothes are another item. Pieces that were representations of playing cards given by a Captain Edwards, crewel caskets donated by the Victoria and Albert Museum and the incredible raised work Millennium Casket, the creation of Barbara and Roy Hirst, are all included in the accumulation of wonderful embroidery items spanning the world and many centuries that is the Guild Collection.