An exhibition of thirty rare samplers from the Jersey Heritage Collections is now on display at Hamptonne Country Life Museum. Open to visitors until Sunday 14 September, these fine pieces of embroidery were often a demonstration of skill for young girls – the earliest sampler on display dates back to 1736.
The earliest sampler on show was made by Elizabeth Anna Marett who proudly declared that she was 7 years old when she did this piece (sic) April the 22 1736. It is in coloured silks on a backing of fine even-weave linen. Although showing signs of wear, even after more than two and a half centuries, the colours are still bright and the stitching is remarkably fine and even. There are examples of Florentine stitch and cross-stitch while the larger letters have been worked in eyelet stitch.
The most recent was worked by Patricia Bell in 1943 when she was an internee in Biberach Camp in Germany.
Val Nelson, Jersey Heritage Registrar commented “The Jersey Heritage Collections are a treasure trove of exciting objects, each giving a unique insight into Jersey’s colourful and intriguing history. Stitched Memories is definitely amongst my favourites – each piece of embroidery on display illustrates the interests, diligence and skill of these young girls; you can just imagine them painstakingly putting their heart and soul into each carefully-placed thread. I am delighted for these beautiful pieces of art to be on display at Hamptonne for the summer, for all to enjoy.”
Samplers are now most commonly thought of as a piece of needlework usually made by young girls as a demonstration of their skill with a needle. They often include the alphabet, numbers, motifs, decorative borders, a verse, the name of the person who worked it and the date it was completed.
The word ‘sampler’ is derived from the Medieval French “essamplaire”, meaning a kind of model or pattern to copy or imitate. Before printed pattern books, embroidery designs were passed from person to person. Copies of new or interesting patterns were sewn onto a piece of cloth and passed around, in this way patterns spread throughout Europe and the Middle East. Different embroiderers would add their own colours and interpretation.
Jersey Heritage members can visit the site to see the exhibition for free. Membership is available from just 90p a month*. You can also now keep updated with the exciting programme of Jersey Heritage exhibitions and events on your mobile. Visit http://www.jerseyheritage.org/events-calendar-download to download the Jersey Heritage Digital Calendar – available on Google Calendar, Outlook, iCal or ICs.