To celebrate the millennium, and their own 20th Anniversary in the Autumn of 2000, the Thames Craft Guild devised the embroideries which hang on the stone pillars on either side of the West door inside St Nicolas Church. These Millennium Embroideries consist of two separate hangings, one of which tells the history of Christianity and St Nicolas Church, whilst the other runs on a parallel time scale but tells the history of the town of Abingdon.
The Design Process
At a meeting in the church with the Minister and representatives of the congregation in July 1997, the stone pillars either side of the West door were identified as a suitable site for a pair of embroidered hangings. A group of volunteers from within the Thames Craft Guild met many times to discuss ideas for the designs. Local historians and embroidery experts were consulted and embroideries in other Churches were visited.
Suellen Pedley, a professional ecclesiastical embroidery designer was commissioned to produce the designs for the hangings. Discussions with members of the congregation revealed that an exhibition had been held in St Nicolas Church in the autumn of 1995 entitled "The Abbey, the Church and the Town". It was decided to base the designs on that exhibition.
The Sacred Hanging shows the history of Christianity and the Church of St Nicolas, Abingdon and the Secular Hanging shows the parallel history of the town of Abingdon.
The Construction Techniques
It was intended that as many techniques as possible should be used, so the embroideries actually include appliqueacute;, hand embroidery, machine embroidery, canvaswork, drawn thread embroidery, cross stitch, lacemaking and tatting. The materials for each picture were assembled into a pack with instructions for working the picture. The main features of each picture were appliquéd to the background fabric and most of the surface embroidery worked. The panels were then assembled onto a quilting frame before the cord was couched onto each panel. Finally the lace was applied before the completed hangings were stretched over the mounting board ready for framing.
There is a booklet which illustrates and describes the embroideries in detail. Copies of this are available in the church, priced £2.50. Copies of the booklet may also be obtained from Masons Embroidery Shop, Bath Street, Abingdon. For more information about the booklet, please contact Andrew Colborne, Sales Coordinator, or for further information on the embroideries please contact Marion Ellis, project co-ordinator and past Chairman of Thames Craft Guild.