Hidden treasures belonging to St John’s church, Sharow near Ripon, are to go on display for the first time in over a decade this September in a new exhibition designed to coincide with the national Heritage Open Days.
A chest containing several collections of beautiful hand embroidered textiles, some thought to date back 200 years has been uncovered and will go on display on September 9th. The chest had lain unheeded in a side chapel alongside spare boxes, trestle tables and even the church’s Christmas decorations.
With building works about to begin at St John’s, the churchwardens had been clearing the side chapel when the box was unearthed and brought to the attention of Joseph Priestley, the church’s Heritage officer. He called in Joan Wilkinson, a member of the Northern Guild of Embroiderers, who was invited to St John’s to examine the contents of the chest.
Joan takes up the story: “I have spent many years working with historic textiles but these are some of the finest I have seen in our region - the amount of work that has gone into creating them is quite staggering, there’s literally a lifetime’s work on display.”
Now, Joan and a group of embroiderers are taking up needle and thread to help conserve them for future generations to enjoy. Visitors to the church on the 9th September will be able to see the embroiderers at work, see the pieces up close and even try their hand at making textiles, though not on the original pieces!
Reverend Ruth Newton, parish priest of Sharow (pictured above right), said “This collection of embroidery is a wonderful example of how people have used their skills and time to the glory of God. We hope to use them in future to add colour and spectacle to our worship.”
If you would like to find out more, please email Joseph Priestley at joepriestley [at] riponcathedral.org.uk or telephone during office hours on 0176 603462.