I have been on vacation in England and Europe visiting lifelong friends and family. Yes, I had a wonderful time because it is such a treat to see everyone and to spend time in London and the Channel Islands.
My cousin, who had written ahead and made the arrangements, and I visited Windsor specifically to see the Beryl Dean Embroideries. We were expected and were taken through the rope barriers to the case where the embroideries are now stored. The case was then unlocked by a staff member so that we could see all five of the banners. Everyone was most helpful and it made a huge difference that they were expecting us.
I had forgotten how large the panels are, probably around 10 feet high by 5 feet wide. The size makes them difficult to photograph but the guide book features this one: The Adoration of the Magi. A scan and a screen shot of the page in the book is the best reproduction that I am able to provide for you. This photo does not do the panel justice at all.
The background fabric was specially woven and is cream coloured with a silver thread included in the weft. When one has the opportunity to look closely the detail is fascinating and the workmanship incredible. But I would expect no less from such a talented designer and broideress. The closer one looked, the more one saw. All the faces were different in structure and expression and each one had eyes that saw you and returned your gaze. All the different techniques used were astounding.
Interestingly, though there is a lot of detail in the background, it remains in the background leaving the figures to be prominent and draw your attention. I have added an enlargement to give you a little more idea of the intricacy in every square inch of these embroideries. I wish that I could have provided better photos for you but this is the best that I can manage.
Needless to say, if you should happen to be in Windsor, go to St Georges’s Chapel within the grounds of Windsor Castle. Write beforehand and tell them your schedule and ask to see the Beryl Dean Embroideries. At the moment, the lighting available near their locked case is poor but I have asked the Chapel to consider installing lighting that can be switched on only when visitors such as us make a request to see the panels. The case and the lack of any direct light will preserve these remarkable pieces for posterity and I hope that they will be enjoyed by many future generations.
Archives and Chapter Library,
The Vicar’s Hall Undercroft
They prefer to receive such requests by mail.
Beryl Dean was such a remarkable and talented lady that I am surprised that no one has yet written her biography. This would be an excellent subject for a University Thesis.