Embroidery With Divine Inspirations

April 12, 2018 1 Comment

Embroidery With Divine Inspirations

Cold dark Churches, who’d of thought they could hold Embroidery interest.

I have the pleasure of walking with my partner, very often, exploring our rich countryside, which offers up ideas and inspiration for new designs everywhere, also coming across many country village churches that we just can’t resist going inside, usually for a little respite from the best of our British weather,

I started to notice these buildings hold vast amounts of historical embroideries, hangings, Alter frontal's and tent stitch Kneelers. Slight excitement when I open the Oak doors, 'there could be Crewel Work inside' you just don’t know what you’re going to find.

 The vast collection of Hassocks at St. Michael the Archangel, Mere, Dorset.

Many of the churches we’ve visited have richly embroidered Alter cloths in gold and silk threads professionally worked with skill and patience. I'm always hopeful to find Crewel Work, but mostly it’s the simple and humble church kneeler we see also known as a Hassock that has caught my attention and imagination. Often they are depicting chapters of the local village history, nature, beloved pets or just simple patterns and very often in commemoration of a loved one or local characters alike.


The Church kneeler was firstly known as a hassock. The name hassock or tuffet’s are both derived from English names for a grassy hillock or clump of grass. The New English Dictionary quotes, a hassock is a “firm clump or tuft of matted vegetation; esp. of coarse grass or sedge, such as occurs in boggy ground; a ‘tussock”. Early hassocks were collected from boggy grassland areas shaped, trimmed and dressed to make kneeling pads which were much more comfortable for praying on than of course the cold stone floor of the church. The name kneeler did not come into use until the nineteenth century. Interesting to think parishioners used to pray essentially on sods of peat, I’m glad to think things have moved on and a joy to see how local needlewomen and men celebrate their local community in this way.

I especially enjoyed this piece worked by Mrs Ruth Thomas in memory of Mrs Hilda Cocke, the "Queen Bee" of the Hassock Scheme for this Church. (St. Michael the Archangel, Mere, Wiltshire). She must of been a tenacious lady with a vision, I would of liked to of know her the Hassocks are a credit to her.

Churches to visit:

St. Michael the Archangel, Mere, Wiltshire.

Holy Trinity Parish Church, Stourpaine, Blandford, Dorset.

St Andrew’s Church, Fontmell Magna, Dorset.


1 Response

Laura Benedict
Laura Benedict

May 16, 2018

What gorgeous hassocks! Seeing them all hanging in their places is so lovely. Imagine all that work, lovingly done.

St. Thomas of Canterbury in Roanoke, Virginia (US) is blessed with at least a dozen hassocks needlepointed by one parishioner. He was a decorated Air Force pilot who served in Korea. Each hassock records the name of a parishioner who did military service, all their medals, their service branch, and what battles they fought in. Most were for WWII veterans. A true treasure.

The Queen Bee is remarkable. Thanks for this post!

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