Making the first stitch…

“Every bride should be able to cross stitch her own stair carpet”, said Lady Julia Crew, who married Sir Robert Carew of Castleboro House, Ireland in 1888. History does not relate if she did so, but she did go on to become one of the “Best Embroideresses in Society” according to the Royal School of Needlework, who designed the wall hangings that she made for their Irish home.

Lady Julia Carew

Lady Julia Carew at work

How Lady Julia Carew’s embroideries came to Hartlebury Castle, is a mystery which we hope to solve. She signed the fabric and dated it in 1919, three years before her death in 1922. She had worked at her embroidery for five to seven hours per day. The chair covers, made from the embroidered fabric, are showing the passage of time, both in the wear and tear on the base fabric, and in the fading of what had been vibrant colours of the wool.  Mostly, these chairs are beyond sensible repair.

But help is at hand.

The Worcester and Malvern Decorative and Fine Arts Societies have members who are trained Heritage Volunteers, and they possess the necessary skills not simply to renovate but to recreate these chair covers in all their former glory.  Work will commence on March 30th at  10.30 ,when Hartlebury Castle re-opens to the public after the winter break, the Volunteers will be working in a room open to the public and it will be possible to see them working on Wednesdays most weeks. They have managed to source material that matches the original, together with wools in the original colour.

Lady Carew's Embroideries

The existing chair covers, or some of them, will be carefully mounted and displayed for comparison, and it is hope that there will in the future be some embroidery kits for sale, for those who wish to create  a memory of their visit.

Susan Dolman, Chair, City of Worcester DFAS

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