Several years ago, Cynthia Newman, who was one of the Churchwardens at the time, drew my attention to the rather less than spectacular piece of carpet which served as a cushion for the Bishop’s Chair. A few years earlier, I had designed and helped organize the Communion Rail Kneelers, which several members of the congregation had helped to embroider in cross stitch, and Cynthia wondered if I could make something a little more fitting. I readily agreed to that request.
We thought that a variation of one of the wood carvings on the organ would be a suitable
subject. Fortunately, Sarah Bryant provided me with a lino cut copy of a design originally done by the organ maker Saxon Aldridge’s wife.
The design of the two wood carvings on the organ were prompted by the circular windows
above the Altar. As the organ was funded largely by the Young’s Brewery family, I believe, the Lamb was changed to a ram, to reflect the Ram Street site, and name, of the original brewery, and both it and the dove are surrounded by lilies, the symbol of St Mary. Their shape is very suitable for a cushion, so I decided that I would copy the ram, but revert to the Lamb with Flag, more in line with the original design of the window, but with the more usual white flag with a red cross, rather than the purple flag with IHS.
I have to admit that, having started, progress was not exactly brisk, as I had to find spare time during several rather busy years. A project of that size is not easily done in very short bursts, as too much can go wrong – at a rough guess, apart from working out the design on graph paper, marking out the canvas, and organizing the wool required, it consists of in excess of 7,000 stitches [and that’s not counting any I got wrong!]so it had to be done when I had time available, on holiday or between jobs.
Eighteen months ago, as some of you will know, I had a stroke, which took me somewhat by surprise. I was singing in a concert in France at the time and was hospitalized there for a month.
On my return, it occurred to me that it would be excellent therapy to get on with the embroidery as it involved using my right hand, which was the one affected, and meant that I could sit down a lot. In consequence, the work moved forward a lot quicker than otherwise would have been the case.
On completion, it then only needed to have a pad made to the size, and the finished, stretched canvas to be sewn on. Et Voila – there it is, for all to see. And I’m not saying where the mistakes are……