It is the first day of 2016 – Happy New Year to you all.
I am sure that, like me, you already have many projects lined up to be completed in 2016. I have new ones coming along soon too, so keep watching. What you will need, come the autumn, is a trip away to look at wonderful stitching, much of which spends its time out of sight but is going to be revealed to us. I shall be your tour guide! Details are here. Do please join us.
The Grand Sampler Tour of Southern England
22 September – 5 October 2016
Come with us to explore some wonderful collections, many of which are not on general public display and will be brought out of storage especially for us. Our trip will take us across a swathe of southern England from the West Country to towns and cities around London and to the capital itself. Do not miss this exceptional opportunity to take in the visual variety and splendour of dozens of samplers and immerse yourself in the company of these wonderful, timeless pieces of needlework.
Samplers are a vital part of our stitching heritage. They represent the work of our ancestors in many forms. There are, of course, the schoolgirl samplers: worked by the rich in silks on fine linen, or, by those less fortunate, in poorer materials but with just as much love and care. Their variety and miscellany of motifs is a delight. Prior to these in time are the professional samplers, worked to show the possible bands and motifs that could be employed for decoration on household linens or clothing. The standard of these can be breathtaking and often include Reticella and other forms of whitework.
Spot samplers, a record of motifs or small designs that could be used for future reference, are easy to identify with, although often worked in a finer form than we might employ today. A way to record ideas when pencil and paper were not to hand but fabric and threads were, they are the equivalent of a notebook in which we might record things we want to do. Add to these the samplers of orphans, as seen in Bristol in particular, and those from Quaker schools, where teaching needlework was of major importance in the early years, and the sampler picture is almost complete. There are always surprises though, and maps, plain sewing samplers, family trees and those from foreign lands come to light in unexpected ways and places.
We shall start our tour from Heathrow – unless you wish and are able to join us at Hythe or Folkestone – and move directly west to Bristol where we shall first visit the Muller House Museum to hear about and see the work of the orphans of the 19th century in the Muller Homes at Ashley Down. From there we shall drive on to Tortworth, our home for the next few days. Out from here we shall visit Gloucester Folk Museum; Somerset County Museum in Taunton; Wells, a wonderful, peaceful city in the heart of Somerset with a museum housing a small but exquisite collection of samplers; the Fashion Museum in Bath; Montacute House, home to the Goodhart Collection of samplers, and the Georgian House in Bristol where, in the attic, are many hidden treasures.
We later move east to stay in St. Albans. On the way we shall call in at Witney Antiques, a specialist needlework antique shop where samplers are always to be found. The city of St. Albans has its own great history and a free day here will give you a chance to explore. Out from the city we shall visit the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and see not only samplers in their collection but also items from the Feller Collection. The Fitzwilliam in Cambridge will also feature on this stage of the tour and has some of the finest professional band samplers I have ever seen. We shall call in at smaller museums too, with hidden collections they are ready to show us.
Moving round London we shall stay in Guildford, from where we shall visit the Maidstone Museum; Guildford Museum; Hampton Court, home to the Royal School of Needlework, and the Victoria and Albert sampler collection, which is not housed in their main building but nearby. Here we shall be privileged to see some superb samplers from other parts of the world. At the time, the V and A will also have, in the main building, a special exhibition of Opus Anglicanum. Several pieces are already in their collection and I am well acquainted with them. It is my hope that there will be additional pieces on loan from other museums in Europe, as this work is considered by many to be embroidery at its very best. It dates from the 14th century and the incredible standard of embroidery and design has never been surpassed. A visit to this exhibition will be included.
Remember, many of the samplers we shall see are not on general display. They will be taken out of storage especially for us, something which, it seems, curators are delighted to do for those as enthusiastic as we are!
Our hotels are all four star and set either in the country or close to places we shall want to visit. The price for the tour includes hotels with breakfast and dinner every day, all travel and all entrance fees to museums and houses, as well as special talks given by experts in their field. On a daily basis, the only things you may need to purchase are a bit of lunch and wine with your evening meal – everything else is included. There may be other things you wish to purchase and there will be opportunities for this, of course. Not only will you see the best of samplers in the southern half of England but you will also visit some of our finest towns and cities, steeped in history throughout. We shall allow as much time as we can on this busy schedule for you to do some sightseeing too.
Do join us. If you love needlework and samplers in particular, this is an opportunity not to be missed. Incidentally, if your partner would like to come along but is not a lover of stitches, there will be much for them to see and enjoy in the places we visit. Just opening your eyes in England displays a countryside and history that cannot be ignored. There is always something to excite!
We work with a holiday firm, Buzzlines, in order to ensure that we are covered by a travel bond. This insures the tour itself for many aspects that are not covered by your personal insurance, which is also needed. The bond is also a protection for the money you pay and is a requirement of British law.
Prices start at £2290 per person. Single room supplement is £490. A deposit of just £50 secures your place.
BOOK NOW using this Booking Form download or Contact Buzzlines on 01303 261870.
I hope you are now very excited and able to join us. To whet your appetite further do, please, take a look at these links:
Muller House Museum: Muller House Museum The history of the wonderful George Muller and the orphans he helped. Samplers are part of the display.
Gloucester Folk Museum: Gloucester Folk Museum Here they have 70 samplers they will get out especially for us!
Museum of Somerset: Museum of Somerset Samplers here are not on display but we will be able to see them!
Wells Museum: Wells Museum Here are just a few of the samplers to be seen in this little room. We shall go behind the scenes to see yet more.
Wells Cathedral: Wells Cathedral Wells has a cathedral. It is outstanding. Also, there is the Bishop’s Palace and the gardens, where the feeling of well-being is amazing. Do not miss the Vicars’ Close, which is very near the museum, or the town itself with its medieval market place.
Fashion Museum: Fashion Museum Here they have canvas work samplers and stitch samplers that they will show us. They are not normally on display. The museum is part of the Assembly Rooms and close to other places of interest in the city.
Montacute House: Montacute House The house itself is wonderful! That it happens to be the home of the Goodhart Collection of samplers is our good luck. Also on show, on the top floor, are portraits of the English kings, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, as well as some fine pictures featuring people wearing lace. It is a National Trust property.
Georgian House Museum: Georgian House This fine house is of considerable interest in its own right. That it is the storage place of samplers, not normally on display, is yet more good luck for us. We shall be taken, in small groups, to see these samplers at the top of the house, which is not usually open to visitors.
Ashmolean Museum: Ashmolean Museum In the heart of the city of Oxford, this wonderful museum is home to many pieces of interest. There may be time for a quick look around the city too. We shall take a special tour to see samplers and some items from the Feller Collection and will also take a full gallery tour.
Fitzwilliam Museum: Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge itself is very old indeed and, of course, houses our oldest university. The samplers are usually displayed under the stairs. This is nothing like as cramped as it might sound but is an excellent place to see them whilst they are kept away from natural light. The collections in the Fitzwilliam include many items other than embroidery. I especially love their china and porcelain rooms. There should be time to see the city too, I hope.
Guildford Museum: Guildford Museum Only six or so of the samplers are on display in the museum itself. We shall see more of them ‘behind the scenes’.
Maidstone Museum: Maidstone Museum Home to a beautiful and unusual beadwork tray and Elizabethan/Jacobean woman’s jacket featuring pea pods, this museum is full of surprises. Their search button on this site reveals very little!
Witney Antiques: Witney Antiques A place I have been in touch with for years but have not visited for some time. I cannot wait to get back there. You could buy a sampler while you are here perhaps. Click on the ‘samplers’ button on the menu to see ones currently in stock.
Royal School of Needlework: Royal School of Needlework The Royal School of Needlework is always up to something interesting. Their apprentices and graduates are, in my opinion, the most technically able embroiderers in the country if not the world. We shall be given a tour of their current exhibition, Applique and Raised Embroidery, and then a talk by Susan Kay-Williams on samplers in their collection. You will be able to walk around the gardens at will but entrance to Hampton Court itself is not included.
Victoria and Albert Museum: Victoria and Albert Museum The Victoria and Albert Museum, in order to preserve them, have moved many textile items to Blythe House, where we shall be able to see several samplers. Some of these are particularly of note. The Medieval Gallery, which is only a very few years old, displays Opus Anglicanum in the main building year round. When we are there exhibits may well have been moved to the special exhibition we shall visit.
And our hotels:
Tortworth Court Hotel, Tortworth
Clarion St Albans Hotel, St Albans
Radisson Blu Hotel, Guildford
See you in September…
Details here are correct at time of writing but we may have to make changes if circumstances beyond our control make it inevitable. Whilst every effort has and will be made to make this holiday fully accessible, we cannot guarantee that all the venues and hotels we visit will be so. This holiday is operated by, and your resulting contract is with BUZZLINES TRAVEL Ltd, Unit G1, Lympne Distribution Park, Lympne, Hythe, Kent. CT21 4LR. Tel 01303 261870. The company is wholly independent of Creative Crafts Publishing Ltd. Buzzlines Travel Ltd is a member of the BONDED COACH HOLIDAY GROUP (BCH).