Alnwick Embroiderers Guild’s last talk was entitled The Embroideries of Mary, Queen of Scots and was presented by member Kay Gardiner.
She explained that Mary was a very talented needlewoman and much of her work is still in existence. Locally, there are some pieces at Traquair House but the best known are probably the Oxburgh Hangings, which she worked with Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, who is also known as Bess of Hardwick.
They were made between 1570 and 1585 while Mary was imprisoned on the orders of Elizabeth 1 on the Shrewsbury estates with George Talbot, Bess’s husband, as her gaoler.
The sections included some unusual creatures although most are easily recognisable.
However, many pieces have symbolic meanings. For example, in one section a ginger cat is holding down a mouse by the tail; it has been suggested that perhaps the cat is Queen Elizabeth and the mouse is the prisoner Mary.
Other pieces have different meanings related to Mary’s life.
It is possible to identify the stitchers as their initials are included in the pieces they worked.
The audience was intrigued by the depth of information they were given which was enhanced by many illustrations and photographs.
The next meeting is on Saturday, March 1, at St Michael’s Church Hall. There is a workshop for members in the morning but visitors and guests are welcome to the afternoon talk From Stories to Stitch – Using Textiles to Embroider Your Story by Ailish Henderson at 2pm.