Textiles & Embroidery at All Saints' Parish Church, Leamington Spa
This is one of our historic copes (a cope is a sort of decorated cloak - look out for one at Christmas, weddings, and other special services).
The hood looks like a Victorian original. The Orphrey - the decorative band around the neck and down each side at the front - looks like Victorian embroidery re-fixed to a later green background (note the colour mismatch), which is probably the same age as the cream silk damask cope.
The conservation work included the painstaking re-attachment of gold threads (couching) and then covering the embroidery with protective mesh to prevent further deterioration.
We're delighted to have been awarded £7600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting community project focused on our fabulous collection of historic textiles. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project included conservation work by volunteers from The Arts Society (Leamington), exhibitions, workshops, and a lecture.
Local people were invited to become involved in a number of ways. Community workshops offered opportunities to explore the symbolism used in the embroidery, and to experiment making designs. A significant part of the collection was exhibited in church, some items were exhibited in Leamington Museum in the Pump Rooms nearby, and items were photographed for new visitor interpretation boards.
Conservation work was carried out on vulnerable items, and storage facilities and procedures were improved.
The recent 'Opus Anglicanum' exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum raised public interest in medieval church embroidery. Our collection isn't as old as that, but there are some stunning pieces which deserve to be more widely appreciated. Participants in our project have been able to see this heritage in a new light, and some, we hope, have been inspired to develop their creative gifts.
The Vicar, Fr Christopher Wilson, said 'We're delighted to have received support, thanks to National Lottery players, to safeguard and celebrate this treasure trove of wonderful items, created with such skill and care by past generations.Thank you to everyone who has made this project possible.'
Other sponsors include the Friends of All Saints' Parish Church, the Arts Society, the Leamington Society, and private donors. Our thanks to them, and to all the contributors: not only from The Arts Society (Leamington) (formerly NADFAS), but also from the local branch of the Embroiderers' Guild; the Leamington Spa Photographic Society; The Drawing Board; Leamington Museum; the Friends of All Saints; and our Project Conservator, Victoria Allan.
Congratulations to our team from The Arts Society, who were presented with a Golden Jubilee Award for their excellent work! (see photos, left)