Last week I was lucky enough to visit the beautiful Brockhampton Church in South Herefordshire. The day was grey and misty, views were hazy and the air was damp. After a good walk we ventured into the church, and whilst exploring the usual architectural deilghts, I spotted some embroidered cushions on the wooden pews …
… they depicted wild flowers, naming each one, the work was intricate and beautiful, someone had taken a lot of time and love to complete these cushions.
Just as I was about the leave the church, I noticed that all the hymn books had embroidered covers too …
… each one with a different flower and the name of the church, so much work.
I conjured up an image of the women of the Parish joining together to produce these beautiful embroidered pieces, and noticed a small book for sale, which contained images of the flowers with detailed descriptions of their properties and remedies.
I bought the book, mainly for it’s beautiful illustrations and layout.
It was only when I got it home, and read the Forward in the book properly that I learnt the true story about the embroidered flowers of Brockhampton Church.
It reads …
‘Stitches in Time brings together two unique works. The first is an alter cloth embroidered with sixty of ‘England’s lovely wayside flowers’, to quote its embroiderer. The second is a book in which the same embroiderer describes the time-honoured place held by every one of the flowers in the fabric of country life: its folklore, literature, recipes and remedies.
When both the book and the alter cloth were completed, they were donated to the church that had inspired their creator. This is All Saints’ Brockhampton, which lies close to the River Wye in the south of Herefordshire. The self-effacing embroiderer-cum-herbalist chose to remain anonymous and their identity has been undisclosed for the best part of half a century; as it will continue to be.
Not that the altar cloth is the only example of its creator’s skill an an embroiderer, or her devotion to All Saint’s. A further eighty five flowers were embroidered on hymn book covers and on a series of pew runners, all of which remain in use today.’
The dedication written in the front of the book, by the anonymous embroiderer reads …
‘Will Brockhampton Church please accept the Altar Cloth and associated Book in appreciation of the tribute to wild flowers carved on the Stalls; and for the leaving of the Church open for visitors.
The donor wishes to remain anonymous.’
Stitches in Time ~ Wayside Flowers & Country Remendies is available to purchase here. It is a beautiful book, and a beautiful story.