Ecclesiastical Embroidery with Suellen Pedley

On Monday 18 July 2016, Suellen Pedley came to talk to us about ecclesiastical embroidery. Despite the sweltering heat, we all settled down to a very interesting evening and Suellen took us through over 1000 years of church embroidery history. She started by describing a fragment of embroidery found in St Cuthbert's tomb in Durham, dating from 9th/10th century. The goldwork was incredibly intricate and the embroiderers must have had exceptionally fine needles to complete the work.

During the Opus Anglicanum period, embroideries were worked on a background of linen, which was overstitched to give the appearance of woven fabric.

After the period of early English embroidery, Suellen explained that during the black death about two-thirds of the population died and many of the embroidery skills were lost.

Around this time, velvet and brocade materials were starting to come in from the East and embroidery was applied to these exotic fabrics, rather than embroidering over the entire surface.

Suellen showed us some wonderful slides of copes and vestments as stitching techniques developed over the centuries.

She brought us up to date by talking about modern embroiderers, including Beryl Dean, Jane Lemmon and Pat Russell.

Suellen also talked about the work she currently undertakes and the workshops and retreats she runs.

She has recently been involved with the restoration of the shrine of St Alban in St Albans' Cathedral.

Many thanks Suellen, for visiting us and telling us all about ecclesiastical embroidery. We all enjoyed your talk and you made history come to life.