Embroidery experts stitch together history of Northumberland village

The 2nd Earl Grey, widely regarded one of Britain’s greatest Prime Ministers, is commemorated along with his heroic descendant Lady Sybil Grey in a craft work produced by residents of Howick and their friends.

Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 9:08 am

Earl Grey’s administration approved the Great Reform Bill, which was the foundation of our modern democracy, while Lady Sybil was instrumental in setting up a First World War hospital in Howick Hall and then travelled overseas, tending wounded men on the battlefield.

There are 83 embroideries in the display of art and craft in the church in Howick Hall Gardens.

Each kneeler shows an aspect of village life past and present, first painted then transferred to canvas and beautifully stitched.

Earl Grey and the Reform Bill.

Also recorded are scenes from village life: dancing round the maypole, a cricket match, a dramatic shipwreck, a prehistoric hut, and some great locomotives, the flying Scotsman

and Mallard, which used to fly through the parish en route to Scotland in days gone by.

‘The enterprise was an ambitious one’, said Avril Meakin the project leader. ‘We are a tiny parish of about 60 houses and we wanted to produce a set of colourful kneelers to replace the existing ones, which were frankly several decades past their kneel- by date.

"The first step was easy, for in under an hour I’d made a list of 80 wonderful things about Howick which were worth committing to canvas.

Lady Sybil was instrumental in setting up a First World War hospital in Howick Hall.

“We’ve got a large variety of landscape: seashore, woodland, a great garden, wildlife and interesting buildings, as well as a remarkable history with fascinating stories from the village’s past.

“After the making of the list there followed a great deal of work, recruiting artists and stitchers, distributing wools in a vast array of colours, taking materials and training to the housebound, and organising weekly stitching in Howick Village Hall.

"Before long I began to sit back and just delight in the arrival at my house of wonderful paintings and embroideries, sharing cakes and cups of tea with our comrades in arms.

“It was a wonderful community effort, with results beyond our wildest dreams.

“Described as ‘a magnificent display of community art and craft’ on the National Kneeler website, the kneelers have beautified the church, and now that the lockdown is over we can share that beauty with visitors to Howick Gardens.”