Running over a number of years is a project of canvas work kneelers for a Stonyhurst College Chapel.
The Stonyhurst Association provide funding for this extensive project. Volunteers from four different societies are working separately on canvas designs; sewing groups gather in a member’s home to create these masterpieces – works of art which will decorate kneelers in the Sodality Chapel in Stonyhurst College.
On Thursday 13 October 2016, 45 people gathered in the Sodality Chapel for a blessing, by Father John Twist, of newly embroidered kneelers.
It had all begun eight years ago in 2009 when the Stonyhurst Association agreed to commission new kneelers. You may remember that they had funded the restoration of the chapel a few years earlier and this could be seen as a final embellishment.
The National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts, Birmingham volunteer sewers, led by Mary Price, found a designer from the Royal School of Needlework
Helen McCook and Mary Price visited the College where Jan Graffius introduced them to the Sodality Chapel, a collection of vestments and books of hours, which formed the basis for Helen’s designs. (Helen also worked on the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress!) She painted the designs for the twelve long kneelers to fit the choir style pews. She taught the Birmingham sewers five types of stitch to be used and in 2010 three more Lancashire groups joined; Ribble and Craven, South Lakes and Fylde.
The designs are painted on to canvas that is stretched on a long cradle. This enables sewers to work on both sides of the canvas at the same time and the sewing has been under way for seven years! All the volunteers give of their time freely and eight kneelers are complete as can be seen from the photo of them loaded into a van for delivery. The new bases and upholstery were carried out in Birmingham. There still remain four, each 10ft. long to complete which we expect within the next couple of years.
Many votes of thanks were given to the sewers, including from the Headmaster who joined us, for this wonderful gift. In his homily Fr. John Twist told us of Jacob’s dream and the stone on which he rested his head. He said these kneelers are like the stone, they both remind us that this is the Lord’s House.