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A Stitch in Time

As we edge towards our first open weekend in July (all details on 'Opening Times' page) I'm spending time reacquainting myself with our collections, and searching for new nuggets of information to make our tours as interesting as possible.

So, after enjoying The Great British Sewing Bee, I thought I'd dedicate this month's blog to shining a light on the beautiful examples of embroidery that we have on display:

The big drawing room, with it's large south facing Georgian windows, must have been the perfect place for ladies of the house to develop their recreational pursuits. The grand piano and the 2 intricate framed samplers (that date back to the 18th century) indicate many evenings spent enjoying conversation and creativity.

Both sampler patters are typical of the style preferred in the 1700s - decorative, intricately detailed and organised around a central image or piece of verse. Symmetrical arrangements of flowers and tress make for beautifully balanced, ornamental pictures that display the creator's skill, personality and ability.

In the 15th and 16th century, before printed pattern books, such designs were passed on from hand to hand, recording motifs and stitching techniques for future generations. However, this craft was restricted to the wealthy due to the high cost of materials. Luckily this changed over time due to growing industrialisation, and by the 19th century such embroidery techniques were a more widely taught skill.

Samplers were often used for religious instruction, as well as teaching geography, English and mathematics. School girls produced needlework exercises of almanacs, maps and the alphabet. Sadly, in Victorian times women were discouraged from creating samplers, such as ours, for mere pleasure as it was seen as a sign of vanity.

Today the 2 framed pieces, as well as many unframed fragments, offer a small window into the minds of the women who lived here, before the more puritan restraints of Victorian Scotland took hold.

*You can now prebook and pay for a place on a house tour through this website. Go to 'Book Online' and follow instructions.

We look forward to welcoming guests to our garden, house and gallery soon.

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