WW I Remembrance Altar Frontal. St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

November 11, 2018 is the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War l.  Every Remembrance Day is special to all those who cherish their freedom. It is the day when we remember and thank those who have gave their lives  to keep the freedoms formulated in the Magna Carta alive for us and for future generations.  It is the day when we pray that peace will prevail and that war will be abandoned.

The Globe and Mail Newspaper of  Toronto  published an article on November 9, 2018 written by Paul Waldie.  The Threads of History tells us about the First World War Tapestry that is the Remembrance Day Altar Frontal in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Sir Arthur Stanley, governor general of Canada 1888 – 1893, (of Stanley Cup fame) commissioned the frontal as a  rehabilitation project for wounded soldiers.  138 Allied soldiers from many countries, most of whom had never used a needle and thread before, created this tribute to their comrades.  Designed by the Royal School of Needlework, the individual motifs were embroidered by the soldiers and then appliquéd on to the silk damask background.  The black outlining conceals the stitching that attaches the motifs. The stitching techniques are mostly Long and Short and Laid Work.  Long straight stitches are secured by a line of couching.  Shading in this technique is a challenge. It can be gradual or it can be sudden. Both are technically and historically correct.   The black outlining conceals the stitching that attaches the motifs gives it drama and enhances its visibility. This is a handsome piece of Embroidery that Records History.

The tapestry/embroidery was put away for safety in 1941 and was forgotten.  Researchers found it rolled up in a wooden chest.  It has been restored and is mounted on the altar during Remembrance week.

If you are able to access the article Special threads reconnect descendants of Canadian First World War soldiers this week at the St. Paul’s Cathedral altar, it is full of colour and information, is not too long, and well worth reading.

Sir Arthur Stanley started something that has been proven to be beneficial.  The use of activity as a therapy was used during and after both world wars.  It became the profession of Occupational Therapy. Many types of activity were used therapeutically in rehabilitation and in long term care.  It was not until the 1960/70’s that it broadened to include the development of equipment that is known as ‘Aids to Make You Able’.   From this came the development of wheelchairs, walkers, grab bars, accessibility considerations and building modifications.

This, my friends, is my chosen profession, Occupational Therapy.

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