Queen Anne (1702-1714) was the last of the Stuart monarchs. Although in poor health she was pregnant 17 times but only one child lived beyond infancy. Her great friend, Sarah Jennings, with whom she had a stormy relationship, married John Churchill. He had great military skill winning many battles in Europe including the Battle of Blenheim. A grateful nation created him the Duke of Marlborough and built Blenheim Palace for him. Located northwest of London and near Oxford, it is well worth a visit. Winston Churchill was born there.
Queen Anne’s reign was noted for the development of the two party political system, the Union of England, Ireland and Scotland forming Great Britain among other achievements. It was a time of the building of mansions, private houses, lavish interior decoration and beautiful furniture. The furniture was smaller, lighter and more comfortable than previous styles; the cabriole leg (S shaped) is the most recognizably enduring part. This seems to be an appropriate accompaniment to the style of embroidery that we were told was current during Queen Anne’s reign.
What we were told at the Royal School of Needlework was that silk threads from the Far East had become available triggering a whole different style of embroidery. These threads were not suited for portraying the Jacobean Tree of Life with all its fanciful and massive leaves, flowers, birds and beasts. Instead, linear and free form shapes better were better suited to the new style furniture and interior decorating. I do not think that the elements of this design represent anything or are symbolic of anything.
You will notice that the colours have become muted more like the Elizabethan colour scheme rather than the boldness of the Jacobeans. The parallel lines use negative space between the colours to enhance each one of them. The stitches used are puffy Couching, Long and Short Stitch, some Laid Work, and French Knots. The majority of the lines are worked in Coral Stitch which happens to be one of my very favourite stitches of all time. I have looked for it in books and never seen it anywhere. It does seem to be related to Coral Knot but is worked a little differently. No, it is not difficult. The effect is a light and open decorative line which works well both as a single outline and a spaced filling. I include the closeup so that you will be able to see it better. We stitched some lines in worsted wool such as the blue and green outer lines. The couching and long and short stitch are in Pearsall’s Filoselle Embroidery Silk which is a 6-strand silk floss.
Sampler of crewel work stitches worked by Dorothea Nield, c.1930 in the Bridgeman Art Library. Creative Needlecraft by Lynette de Denne. Octopus Books Limited 1979 ISBN 1 85052 07. This excellent book is a good investment if you should be lucky enough to see it somewhere. Erica Wilson is bound to have it in her books though I am unable to tell you which one.
Notice the different design features and the different methods of stitching. Your comments are always welcome so please keep them coming. The next entry will be our first RSN sampler and, possibly, the second one also.
Hi Ann, I am really enjoying your blog. Thanks for sharing. I have found a stitch called ‘Coral Stitch’ in two of my books ‘100 Embroidery Stitches’ by Anchor published in 1967 and ‘A-Z of Embroidery Stitches 2’ published by Country Bumpkin in Australia. I must say that when I look at these two different designs my preference is for the more open ‘negative’ space stitching.
Ann Bernard says
I am happy that you have found this blog and that it is interesting. The stitch in A-Z is Coral Knot which is in many books. I have a lot of the stitch books but not all of them. Coral Stitch really is different to Coral Knot. I have been asked to give directions on how to do this stitch and will do so and will post it on this blog. At the moment, I am recovering from flu so it will be later rather than sooner.
I plan to post more samplers from RSN and other items too. This Blogsite will get added to gradually.
It will be a historical record of knowledge from the 50s which will be lost unless recorded now.
Thank you for your interest. All good wishes. Ann
Thanks Ann for your reply. I look forward to the directions, but only when you are ready. I hope that you get over the flu quickly. Keep warm and drink lots of liquid, especially hot chocolate (LOL)
Just a quick thought. Have you contacted RSN? Asking them for details of sampler. I know they have a website and I do not see why they would not be prepared to share the information on this work with you.
Ann Bernard says
Yes I am feeling better but it is going to take awhile. Hot chocolate! Great idea. Love it.
RSN have given me the cold shoulder when I have been in their store. Though the current lady has gone out of her way to be helpful.
My internal contact, Teacher Elizabeth Elvin is no longer at her home address. Being a graduate does not seem to be of interest to them.
I am hopeful that information will become available for the provenance of these samplers through a wide area of questioning.
In the meantime, it has forced me t do some research which has been very interesting.
My secondary goal is to have these samplers and some information out on the world wide web. In reality, they belong in a museum but once donated, they are unlikely to see daylight again. We have only one grandson as an heir and I do not wish to see the collection divided up. It is a problem.
I have a story to tell of being a student in the 50’s and have access to the official history of RSN. All this is likely to go on my blogsite which makes it universally. available. I am glad that you are looking at it as well as a few others and hope that the numbers will increase.
And, I have my second book under way, and, I teach. Am busy busy in the normal way of things.!
All the best, Ann
Susan B Farmer says
Oh, I forsee spending many long nights reading your blog. You are correct about not loosing that knowledge!! I first ran across this sampler as a result of the new RSN technique book. Two of the 4 corners were in it, and I wanted to see the rest of it. Your blog ran to the rescue!
I guess my modern embroidery area of focus is on stitch samplers. Most of them are IMO dull dry and rearly useless. Don’t show me a line of Stitch X, show me the stitch in something meaningful. A line of herringbone stitch? **yawn** a “sampler” of leaves and petals … and comparing the appearance/ textures of similar stitches? Priceless!! I have learned so much on Instagram (of all places) about how to actually **use** stitches as opposed to making a lot of pretty lines!
Thank you so much!