APULDRAM AROUND will not be published until further notice
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To Sew or Not To Sew?
At St Mary’s we have two lovely banners. One is the Patronal banner possibly mid-19th century and a Mothers Union one which I judge to be about 100 years old as the design of the lettering seems to put it in the L’Art Nouveau, early 1920’s style. We do not have any dates for either, but did find out via Lambeth Palace that the MU at Apuldram was up and running in 1932 as a Mrs Bolster who lived at Crouchers was the Members secretary.
Unlike Altar frontals and vestments, banners and hangings are ‘just there’, part of the furnishings. In 2007 when they were removed for the flower festival some repair work was needed but we didn’t do anything and rehung them. When removed again for last year’s flower festival it was a very different story. The banners had really deteriorated; something had to be done.
Maureen, Hilary and I looked at them, discussing what we could do. Due to age and atmospheric conditions in church for over a hundred years, time had taken its toll; silk embroidery threads were rotting and powdering, the gold work outlining the flowers falling off and the background falling to bits. I said I would try to repair the Patronal one but the MU banner was really too delicate. We approached the Seffrid Guild at the cathedral but they were not taking on any work from the parishes. Someone suggested the Royal School of Needlework, but nothing came of that and we thought about the Repair Shop run by the BBC at the Weald and Downland Museum.
The Patronal banner was the easiest; It is on a background of cream damask, with letters worked in silver, now black with age, and a pretty floral design framework in the Florentine manner and an appliqued panel of the Annunciation worked in gold and silver in the middle; it must have looked stunning when new. I had done a one day course in Gold Work with the WI some years ago and now it was hopefully going to pay off. So with time on my hands as Graham was convalescing I collected my bits and pieces and started on the project, but when I stitched one area another area just popped off. It took about ten days on and off and a lot of patience to complete. I was reasonably happy with the outcome and the banner was ready to go back into church.
I then looked again at the MU banner. Could I have a go? Yes I could, it wasn’t going to beat me. The blue silk damask was so fragile it split just looking at it. The lilies had originally been worked in Duchess Satin, embroidered and outlined in gold with the lettering, luckily for us, also in gold, so no tarnished silver. Every part of the lettering was falling off, only the basic threads of the Duchess satin survived so no nice shiny petals and the fringe had to be removed and thrown away as it just powdered and fell apart. I tackled this job in a slightly different way and I’m sure the Royal College of Needlework would cringe! I’m a flower arranger and cook not an embroideress. I managed to consolidate the lettering and the outline of the flowers and it didn’t look too bad. The top loops were in shreds so were reworked and the top part of the silk was falling away, but how to keep it in place?
I had a ‘light bulb’ moment in the middle of the night. As an avid watcher of The Repair Shop, I knew the ladies who repair the textiles talk about conservation net. So I looked it up on the internet, found that it was only available in Nottingham, phoned up and by the next day had an offcut. It was only £60 instead of £105! Bargain! So if anyone would like to make a contribution towards the cost we would be most grateful. We do have enough left over to conserve other small textiles in church. The two banners are now encased in gossamer net so helping to hold back the embroidery for another few years. They will be in place again at Easter.
St Mary’s Meeting Room is now available to the community for hire, either by regular users or for one-off events. For further information please go to the St Mary’s Meeting Room page
Apuldram Around is printed as a separate page within Fishbourne and Apuldram Parish Magazine. Please contact us to find out how to subscribe to the Parish Magazine.