Heritage-inspired Classwork and Exhibition 2015/16

‘Stories in Stitches’

Building on the hugely successful ‘Jumbled Windows’ project of last academic year, we are delighted to announce that the new theme for this year is ‘Stories in Stitches’.

This year we will be taking as stimulus the cathedral Quire embroideries and Millennium Altar Frontals and vestments (garments worn by those officiating at church services).

Quire Embroideries

Rather like the Lady Chapel windows last year, these collections of textiles provide inspiration for work in many curriculum areas – creative writing, art and DT, history, RE, maths and more. Participating schools are given the chance to exhibit their work in the Cathedral.

Teachers have complete freedom to interpret and create, taking your ideas forward with your students at your own pace through the spring term. The exhibition will take place in the Cathedral’s south cloister from 23rd May to 6th June 2016, including half term so that pupils can bring their parents to see their work in such a beautiful setting.

East Cloister

Visiting with your class

You may decide to bring your class to visit the Cathedral, to see the inspiration in context and enhance classroom work. We will be able to arrange tours with our specialist embroidery guides for your visit, even going ‘behind the scenes’ to see items usually kept in storage. These tours are available for you to book at only £1.80 per pupil, accompanying staff free. We can also design a programmed day that incorporates the guided tour of the cathedral and textiles, together with related craft activities and an opportunity for reflection. Programmed days cost £3.80 per pupil. Please see side menu for further information about programmed days.

Background to the Project

Based on the initiative in The National Gallery, London, called ‘Take One Picture’, each year the Gallery focuses on one painting from the collection to inspire cross-curricular work. The challenge is for schools to use the image imaginatively in the classroom, both as a stimulus for artwork, and for work in more unexpected curriculum areas.

Benefits of such a project include promoting understanding and appreciation of national heritage, acting as a vehicle for teacher and pupil creativity, and providing a platform to celebrate children’s work. The Cathedral project creates a local opportunity for schools to engage in this valuable learning experience.

The Quire Embroideries

The Treasurer's embroidered banner in the Quire

Each a work of art in its own right, the stall banners and seat cushions in the Quire of Wells Cathedral enrich our understanding, depicting in stitch-work saints, symbols, historical events, legends, kings and bishops, music, ancient manuscripts and favourite parts of the Cathedral.

The project was begun in 1938. Although the outbreak of the Second World War slowed progress, work continued. The hangings were completed in 1948 and the seats and runners by 1952.

Needle-workers were recruited from across the diocese. Over a hundred participated, all amateurs, of whom seven were men, led by Lady Hylton who also produced the designs.

The Millennium Altar Frontals and Vestments

The altar frontals and vestments were commissioned to celebrate the new millennium; the Easter frontals and vestments were finished in time for Easter 1999, and the project was completed in 2002.

The designs are inspired by the architecture of Wells Cathedral and Biblical references. There are 63 pieces in all, made for the six seasons of the Church’s year. Each season has its own liturgical colour, which features strongly in the altar frontals and garments of that time.

Many materials and embroidery techniques were used, including raised work, gold work, needle-lace, appliqué and couching of cords. Materials include leather, beads, Thai silk, hessian and theatrical net made rigid with wire.

The designs were created by Jane Lemon and Maurice Strike. Jane Lemon was a costume designer for BBC television after several years first as wardrobe mistress at Sadlers Wells Theatre Ballet Company, then in theatre design. She was awarded the MBE for services to ecclesiastical embroidery. The Revd. Maurice Strike was a clergyman with a wide-ranging career as an artist and designer. He has over 175 theatre designs to his credit.


Miranda Young,  Outreach & Learning Manager
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 01749 674483