|Needlework at St. Margaret’s Church. Written in November 2011 by Diana Byott.
The altar frontals and pulpit falls currently in use were made three decades ago by a small group of ladies of the congregation.
The hangings then in use had been desecrated by Vandals, and the Friends of St. Margaret’s started to raise money for their replacement.
Elizabeth Hammond from Harrietsham who held classes at the Medway college of design was commissioned to design and oversee the work, two carloads of ladies attended the first session and I remember the feeling of being Press ganged because I could sew!
We were introduced to a group of Chatham ladies working on wall hangings to cover concrete walls in a modern church. These reflected Chatham’s history
We had been shown the designs for our church and Ethel gamely took on the white pulpit fall finishing this but sadly died while working on the green one. I later had the privilege of finishing it. I look upon it now with its olives,ears of wheat,Turkey oak,mimosa,pistachio nuts,almonds and peach and remember Ethel.
The base of gold cross was built up of layers of yellow felt diminishing in size with each layer giving it a three dimensional effect like the posts.
The top layer is made of many small sections using different types of gold threads and small shapes of stiff card covered with gold kid. We each had to practise making several and only the better ones were used!
All the prepared sections were then sewn onto the felt base, and I was given this job, it was a real labour of love using curved sewing needles.
Meanwhile Pam Bailey started on the white and gold altar frontal which took many months to complete, and Nancy Duncan and Margaret Simmonds any myself learned to make leaves for the green altar frontal,the theme being “Flowers, fruits and leaves from the Bible” these included cedar of Lebanon, mustard, coriander, and myrtle.
I had task of sewing all this together and doing background embroidery, while Nancy and Margaret, with Louise Twyman started on the red with its flames and the purple hangings.
We had to work on big frames and they were difficult to get into a car boot. Once we had learned what to do at the classes we worked on our pieces at home as much as circumstances allowed.
Eventually after two and a half years and a cost I believe of some £1,200 we had them finished, but by now it was becoming obvious to us who had worked on the gold cross that if put on the screen as intended it would not be visible when clergy stood in front of it and it would be rubbed by their backs each time they passed close to it, damaging the gold leather, so after some persuasion by us embroiderers the P.C.C. finally agreed to have new blue velvet
No lectern falls were made at this time as we had the heavy carved Victorian lectern.
The current green,white and purple falls must have been donated but we were missing a red one until I made the latest one in 2011 incorporating the fragments of gold thread, gold kid and purple raffia I had kept.
Just for the record
In 1985 St.Margaret’s Church was 650 years old and a pageant was held, and some historical costumes were made out of old curtains donated by the congregation, the biggest challenge and greatest achievement was roman armour made from old leather jackets.
1987 A new banner was made for Mothers Union.
1999—2000 Millennium Communion rail kneelers
2002 The Queen’s Golden Jubilee, Nancy Duncan suggested pew cushions, and by now we had a
2004 The then Vicar asked me to make new altar linen, specialist fabric for this had to be ordered and I made a new cover for the 12 foot long altar table and 3 long runners to fit it. The table was reduced in size when the reordering was done so all the covers and runners were
2005 The Yew Tree cross arrived so the blue velvet curtain with gold cross was taken down and in 2007 it was put on the green altar frontal in place of the “flowers and fruits” one.
2011 The new Red lectern fall was made.
Article November 2011 – Diana Byott
The only man in the original group was Ron Eames, who had gone along to the first meeting with his wife Dorothy. She had always been a keen needlewoman, and after Ron had watched her complete several tapestry kit pictures, he decided to have a try himself. His first was a horse’s head, which was soon followed by others which were usually donated to charities for use as prizes.
Ron’s latest kneelers including one in honour of Bomber Command and another for the 2012 Olympic Games and his most recent in honour of the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 2.