Hand Made


Friends of St Mary's Church, Cricklade, Wiltshire, U.K.


Chairman: Hugh Dudley, 4 Pleydells, Cricklade, SWINDON, SN6 6NG

Secretary: Gerry Dudley, 4 Pleydells, Cricklade, SWINDON, SN6 6NG

Treasurer: Tony Barratt, 13 Boundary Close, Stratton, SWINDON, SN2 7TF


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The Evening Advertiser 4 Sep 2001


 Two years of work and dedication put life back into embroidered cloth


Nothing is better than hand made





Painstaking work . . . the women who brought the cloth back to life, from left (standing) Helen Lee, Pat Charlton and Mary Pugh, and at front Bernadette Yarnold.        Picture: MATTHEW SWINGLER Ref: 10968-41

Two years of painstaking restoration has resulted in a fragile altar cloth taking pride of place at St Mary's Church, Cricklade.

   The cloth was designed and embroidered by Cicely Butt Miller in the early years of the last century.

   It was originally intended to be one of four wall hangings but, as the project stalled, it was made into an altar decoration and given to St Mary's.

   The 'frontal' is important to both St Mary's and Cricklade, as the floral work features the fritillary for which Cricklade is nationally famous.

   One of needlewomen, Bernadette

Yarnold, said "By 1999 the silk backing was threadbare. Careful restoration was needed and expert advice was given by Mrs Isabel Elliott, of Quenington, who is the former mistress of embroidery at Gloucester Cathedral.

   "The old, threadbare, patched and disintegrating silk had to be cut away and the embroidery remounted on a more enduring fabric."

   "The whole thing is so beautiful and the colours so vibrant that as an extra measure it has been  couched in gold thread. Now, once again, it graces the altar in this ancient church."

   The restoration was done in a room at Brook House, Cricklade, by permission of resident Louise Aitken.

   Coincidentally, Brook House was formerly owned by Thomas Butt Miller, the husband of Cicely.

   For the restoration, the new backing material had to be attached to a 6ft by 3ft frame and took four restorers 160 hours to complete.

   The needlewomen, as well as Miss Yarnold, were Mary Pugh, Pat Charlton and Helen Lee.

   Miss Yarnold's niece Charlotte converted the embroidery back into a 'frontal'.

   Miss Yarnold added: "It was very

satisfying to complete - it is a lovely piece of work. It was so nice to be able to do this in an age when so much comes off a production line - I don't think anything beats hand-made.

   "None of us are really embroiderers, it was basically a matter of cutting away the work and delicately stitching it to a new background."

iIf you would like to see the restored altar cloth you can visit St Mary's Church, Cricklade, for the church flower festival over this weekend.


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