One of Cumbria’s smallest museums – the Quaker Tapestry Museum in Kendal – is delighted to be welcoming visitors back from Tuesday 18 May as part of the government’s four-phase reopening plan for England.
Their reopening marks 40 years since a chance remark, by an 11-year-old boy, led to the creation of one of the world’s largest international embroideries.
Made by over 4000 men, women and children from 15 countries, it tells of 350 years of social history through 77 modern embroideries.
Each shares stories of Quakers, including many Cumbrians, who made history with their deeds of discovery and daring.
World traveller and writer Alexander McCall Smith, says the Quaker Tapestry is one of the ‘six best tapestries’ to see in the world.
And it came into being as Jonathan Stocks chatted to his teacher Anne Wynn-Wilson at a Quaker Meeting in Somerset in 1981.
“Anne had the idea of creating a frieze to tell some of the stories of the early Quakers,” explains Museum Manager Bridget Guest.
“Jonathan suggested making a collage or mosaic and soon he and Anne had progressed onto the idea of a tapestry.
“Each of the colourful embroidered panels measures 63.5cms x 53.3cms – created using a mix of five ancient stiches and one new one, invented for the project,” adds Bridget.
“Forty of the panels are permanently on display in our family-friendly museum, alongside other exhibitions,” continues Bridget.
“And we’ve just published a brand new Pictorial Guide with large crisp photographs of each panel and a detailed explanation of what’s going on.
“Some of the panel stories may resonate with those who are reflecting on the impact of the Pandemic as they cover social challenges during times of great upheaval and inequality.”
The tapestry panels have travelled to more than 180 UK, European and American venues – with a welcome reception that’s included comedian Victoria Wood, actress Sheila Hancock, scientist Mary Archer, and antiques expert Henry Sandon.
The Quaker Tapestry inspires hundreds of others, including one in Kendal – about 2015’s Storm Desmond – and the latest is an embroidery panel produced in Kendal for an Australian Quaker Tapestry Project.
Kendal’s smallest museum, can be found tucked inside the Friends Meeting House between Stramongate and New Road. The Quaker Tapestry Museum, is a registered charity and an Accredited Arts Council museum, and a Visit England Hidden Gem.
“We’ve missed our visitors and we hope our new Covid-19 compliant measures will make people feel confident about coming,” says Bridget.
“For example, there will be less people in the museum at any one time, we have a one-way system, contactless payments and hand sanitiser stations. For more information on Covid-19 safety measures people can check a dedicated page on our website.”
Reopening on Tuesday 18 May and open weekly Tuesday – Saturday 10am to 5pm accompanying the panels are audio guides, interactive displays and films and there is a gift shop and café onsite.
People can find out more by visiting the website – https://www.quaker-tapestry.co.uk/ or follow the Quaker Tapestry on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.