Some of the hidden treasures of St John’s, Sharow are to go on display for the first time in over a decade in a new exhibition designed to coincide with the national Heritage Open Days.
Joan Wilkinson, a member of the Northern Branch of the Guild of Embroiderers, was invited to St John’s to examine the contents of a chest which had lain unheeded in a side chapel alongside spare boxes, trestle tables and even the church’s Christmas decorations. With building works about to begin at St John’s, the churchwardens had been clearing the side chapel when the box was unearthed and brought to the attention of Joseph Priestley, the church’s Heritage officer.
After being uncovered, the contents were seen to be several collections of beautiful hand embroidered textiles, some thought to date back 200 years. Joan takes up the story: “I have spent many years working with historic textiles but these are some of the finest I have seen in our region – the amount of work that has gone into creating them is quite staggering, there’s literally a lifetime’s work on display.”
Now, Joan and a group of embroiderers are taking up needle and thread to help conserve them for future generations to enjoy. Visitors to the church on the 9th September will be able to see the embroiderers at work, see the pieces up close and even try their hand at making textiles, though not on the original pieces!
Reverend Ruth Newton, parish priest of Sharow, said “This collection of embroidery is a wonderful example of how people have used their skills and time to the glory of God. We hope to use them in future to add colour and spectacle to our worship.”
If you would like to find out more, please email Joseph Priestley at [email protected] or telephone during office hours on 0176 603462.