Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - December 2011

Friday 30th December 2011 - Kneeler 15

I am stitching my third kneeler in memory of Ela of Salisbury, who inherited Chitterne from her father in 1196, and also founded Lacock Abbey.

Things are going a little better after a slow, painful, start trying to get the outside shape of abbess Ela's seal just right. It's a sort of eye shape. Two concentric eye shapes in fact, and the inside shape was worse to do than the outside one. Between the two shapes are words in latin which say: "S'CONVENT' BEATE MARIE SANCTI BERNARDI D'LACOC".

I marked the outline of half of the letters on the canvas using fine needle and thread as suggested by AM. But I couldn't do this just by eye, I needed more of a guide, so I traced the letters onto baking paper, placed the paper onto the canvas where I wanted the letters to be and then stitched through both the paper and canvas. Afterwards I gently tore the paper away. Not sure if this is good practice but it worked. I was able to work the letters in wool using the guide stitches but I referred to the printed enlargement of the seal as well. Next time I don't think I need to mark the letters in as much detail before stitching them in wool.

Friday 16th December 2011 - Kneeler 14

The Big Stitch was very successful last weekend, around 70 people came, stitched, ate their mince pies and drank the mulled wine or coffee or tea. We made almost 500 from the produce sales, raffle and donations.

The three parts of the altar rail kneeler were laid out in one long line, with the central piece between the two long pieces, as they will be in the church when they are finished. This was the first time we had seen them laid together like that, and even though they were sagging on the supports it was an impressive sight. The Archdeacon certainly seemed to think so on Sunday when he came and stitched.

Best of all were the numbers of children who had a go. Most of them got the idea of the diagonal basketweave stitch very quickly and were soon stitching up and down like old hands. Some had to be prised away from the canvas when it was time to go home or make way for someone else, and one young lad came back again for second session. Perhaps we need a junior kneelers group?

Yesterday I finished my second individual kneeler. I'm already feeling bereft. How can this be after only 24 hours?

Tuesday 13th December 2011 - Chitterne's Strong Radicals

A piece of Chitterne history came my way recently via MH, a family history contact of long standing. It is a court report from a local newspaper and it is priceless. The newspaper is the Bristol Mercury and Daily Post of Monday 14th December 1885, which recounts how several Chitterne farm labourers, namely George Alford, John Poolman, Thomas Moody, Frank Cooper, Abdon Poolman and Joseph Grant, reacted after the results of the parliamentary election were declared. In short, they didn't like it one bit and proceeded to lob very large stones through the windows of their employer's farmhouses. The "strong radical element that prevails in Chitterne" were angry because their employers had made "strenuous efforts to induce the men to support the Conservative candidate"! Luckily for the men involved the farmers, George & Robert Blake, Charles Burbidge and William Samuel Cleverley were disposed to be lenient as there was "a notion abroad that at election times men could do as they pleased, and commit any damage with impunity." So instead of two years penal servitude the leaders, George Alford, Abdon Poolman and Frank Cooper, were sentenced to between 3 months and 6 weeks in prison.

Well, who'd have thought it? Radical labourers in little old Chitterne! Click here to read the whole report.

Comment: I have to say it only serves to confirm my long-held view that Chitterne is not what it appears on the surface loved the mention of radicals, as if the term is beneath contempt. A strong Radical element prevails in Chitterne.... well that will never do! JR

Further research shows that the farm workers choice of candidate, the Liberal, won the election, so why were they rioting? This is being researched so watch this space!

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