Sewing for the Glory of God
A new Cathedral needlework group works together, in friendship and prayer, to catalogue, repair, restore and preserve the Cathedral’s ecclesiastical fabrics.
In the Spring of 2023, at time when the parish was coming together again after the trauma of the pandemic, a group of parishioners felt it was the right time to reform and restart the Cathedral Arts and Crafts Group. The group meets weekly in the Cathedral Hall and engage in paint, drawing, crafts and various types of needlework. It has become a meeting of friends, who share, learn and enjoy diverse creative skills together. Some of those engaged in the group have considerable skills as needleworkers and have a keen interest in maintaining, repairing and replacing the Cathedral’s ecclesiastical fabrics. Many of the fabrics and vestments in the Cathedral date back to the nineteenth century and with this in mind, the group felt a weight of responsibility to ensure they equipped themselves with the specialist knowledge necessary to undertake the restoration of these precious assets.
The group contacted Lucy Shaw at the Guild of St Clare in the hope that she might be able to offer some guidance. Lucy kindly came to the Cathedral to teach the group techniques and to provide advice on restoration work. She brought some materials for the group to make travelling stoles for priests and whilst relatively small items, the techniques learned and practiced through this activity are transferrable to larger items the group might make or restore in the future. The group took the opportunity to show Lucy some of the Cathedral’s impressive antique vestments and welcomed her opinions on their future care, repairs, restoration and preservation. It is the group’s ambition to eventually catalogue all of the Cathedral’s fabrics and vestments.
Reflecting on the day, Anne Verdon said:
‘It was wonderful to have found another like-minded person to support us in our desire to preserve the Cathedral’s vestments and fabrics and we appreciated Lucy sharing her considerable skills with us. One aspect of the day, which we greatly appreciated, was Lucy helping us focus on the spiritual aspect of this needlework. This is something we have always felt since embarking on this work but we have not always articulated: we work for the Glory of God, we are at His service and God alone is our client.’
After such a fruitful day, the group intend to keep in touch with Lucy. She has kindly offered to come and visit the Cathedral again and the group hopes to attend one of her sewing retreats or days. Looking forward, there is the hope that this dedicated group of needleworkers will become the Nottingham Diocesan Branch of the Guild of St Clare. This would mean placing the skills developed at the Cathedral at the service of the Diocese and supporting priests and parishes in caring for, repairing and preserving their ecclesiastical fabrics for future generations.
If you have needlework skills and would like to get involved in this work, please email Anne Verdon with a few sentences about your interest and skills in needlework: