Friday, 11 July 2014

LEGO altar frontal and cope

Lego altar frontal

Mini cope on small figure

Miniature Saint Cuthbert's cross

Detailed view

Actual size
Applied red silk fabric with Gilt Pearl purl wire

Cope and altar - back view

Cope and altar - front view
The Broderers were asked to make a miniature altar cloth and cope for the Lego cathedral to celebrate the first birthday of the Durham Cathedral LEGO build.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Collar apparels continued . . .

centre cross
detail - pearl purl stretched and un-stretched with paired couched gilt passing thread

Collar apparels continue with a centre cross now in place . . .

Saturday, 4 January 2014

New Collar Apparels . . .

zig-zag couched paired gold passing thread
zig-zag border
sequin embellishment
more detail
border complete
worked on a plain pale gold coloured furnishing fabric
Into 2014, the broderers are working, and completing a set of new collar apparels to replace the older ones.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Lenten Array press release . . .

the broderers team

Cathedral Broderers create new Altar Frontals and Vestments for Lent

Wednesday 13 February marks the beginning of Lent. As always at Durham Cathedral there was a special Sung Eucharist in the Evening with the Imposition of Ashes – that is the placing of an ash cross upon the forehead of congregation members is a reminder and celebration of human mortality.

This year the occasion saw the dedication of a new set of altar frontals and vestments created by the Cathedral’s Volunteer Broderers which will be used throughout the season of Lent. They have been designed by Tracy A Franklin, Head of the Cathedral Broderers and Durham based specialist embroiderer and designer. This is her first commission for the Cathedral and represents over four years work by the dedicated team of volunteers.

The Frontals and Vestments have been made using unbleached linen, the traditional material for Lenten Array. They depict the Crown of Thorns and the grasses of the wilderness, both of which represent Christ’s self-consecration and suffering but also the renewal and forgiveness.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Dedication of Lenten Array

high altar chasuble
The dedication of the Lenten Array this evening.  Picture showing The Reverend Canon Dr David Kennedy, next to the high altar, wearing the high altar chasuble showing the coloured desert grasses and a small crown of thorns on the front of the vestment.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The beginning of Lent . . .

new high altar lenten array ready to be dedicated on Ash Wednesday
lenten altar frontal positioned on high altar

Lenten Array - High altar, nave altar and vestments ready to be dedicated at Ash Wednesday Sung Eucharist for the beginning of Lent and the Imposition of Ashes at 19:30 hours on 13th February 2013.

Many thanks to all the Broderers who have worked hard to finish this project and the support of Durham Cathedral and the Friends of Durham Cathedral.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

vestments for Lent

left to right - stoles, dalmatic, chasuble and tunicle for high altar; chasuble for nave altar
Completed today, all the vestments for Lent, all pressed and freshly ironed.  The chasuble, dalmatic and tunicle have a central panel of desert grasses, whilst the chasuble for the nave altar remains plain.  The linen representing sackcloth, the grasses the wilderness, and the colours, new life.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

high altar for Lent - complete

High altar frontal now complete and on its wood frame ready for Ash Wednesday - the start of Lent.  It shows the desert grasses and the three dimensional crown of thorns designed by Tracy A Franklin and worked by the Durham Cathedral Broderers team.

high altar 8am this morning . . .

altar cloth draped over frame
attaching the altar cloth to the wood frame
The altar cloth for the high altar is now complete!  We started to attach it to the wood frame ready for the start of Lent in the Chapter House for next week . . .

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Durham Cathedral Broderers

History 2013

The Broderers Group was founded in 1978 by Phyllis Richardson, widow of Dean Richardson  who had been asked to do some restoration and repair work on vestments and some of the older altar frontals.  There were originally 4 members.  Two experienced needlewomen who were teaching embroidery, Joan Finlinson (until 1995) and Dorothy Watson, were invited to act as tutors.  When Phyllis retired in 2000, the Broderers were led by another founder member of the Group, Dorothy Watson, until her retirement in 2006.  She was assisted by tutor Josephine Turney.  Tracy A Franklin, a freelance specialist traditional embroiderer based in Durham City and trained at the Royal School of Needlework, succeeded her in January 2007.

The first item made was a throw for the high Altar on Maundy Thursday made to a design by Joan Freeman, an artist who designed for York Minster Broderers.   Several Apparels  were done next, which were designed by members of the Group.  Once more items started to be produced, specific designs were used, designed by the Group leaders/tutors -  Phyllis Richardson, Joan Freeman, Joan Finlinson, Dorothy Watson and Tracy A Franklin, and external specialist or external designers, the late Leonard Childs, and Malcolm Lochhead (of Glasgow Caledonian University).  The Dean and Chapter and the Fabric committee approve all new designs and projects.  This can take some time due to the timing of Committee meetings.  When complete, new work is dedicated during a Cathedral service.  The materials for most of the work the Broderers do is paid for by the Friends of Durham Cathedral. 

As well as carrying out new work, the Broderers also currently repair existing items when necessary, including garments worn for services.  There are currently (2013) 15 volunteer members who meet approximately once per fortnight during School terms.  The Friends of the Cathedral equipped their workroom above the Chapter Offices at the Cathedral in 1989.  Before that, the Group met in various venues, including members’ homes.   From time to time, members of the Group have carried out their current work at home between the formal meetings.

Cathedral Embroideries

Gallilee chapel
The St Bede’s Kneeler was designed by Phyllis Richardson and Lesley Nott from a design Joan Freeman did for the St Cuthbert kneeler in the Feretory based on the title page of the Lindisfarne Gospels.  It was completed by Lesley Nott in 1985. (The St Cuthbert kneeler in the Feretory is no longer in use due to damage.)

In 1994, kneelers for the specially made altar rail were worked.  They were designed by Leonard Childs inspired by and echoing the colours and shapes of the remaining mediaeval frescos in the soffit of the arch above the Altar.  The curved shapes were a challenge for the group, some of whom at the time were relatively inexperienced.  A number of different stitches were used, chosen by the Tutors.  Additional bench pew kneelers were completed in 2006.  The designs by Dorothy Watson were approved at the same time as the main altar rail kneelers.  They use the same colours and incorporate some of the shapes of the Altar Kneelers. 

Choir and Nave
A frontal for the Nave Altar was made in Lenten colour and design some time before 1998.   The long Nave Altar kneelers (1998) and the four single ones were designed and charted by Dorothy Watson.  The design and colour was inspired by Gilbert Scott’s design for the marble pulpit and choir pavement, reflecting the Italian influence he loved so much.   The sample pieces for this work were made into a cushion for the Bishop’s chair.

Two wedding kneelers were made in gold and cream (not white), designed by Dorothy Watson in a Florentine type of pattern.

Leonard Childs designed the Choir Pulpit Fall in 1999 taking inspiration from the Lindisfarne Gospels.  This piece was the Broderers Millennium Gift to the Cathedral in memory of Joyce Hawkings and Joan Finlinson (tutor from 1981 to 1995).  The design is the four Evangelist symbols as portrayed in the Lindisfarne Gospels and divided by a Cross and Chi Rhio in the centre of the Fall.  The Evangelists are worked in silk black threads couched directly onto Cloth of Gold and the centre is in gold work including sewn down bright check pieces.  The inscription on the back is worked in split stitch.

Phyllis Richardson designed individual kneelers for the Sanctuary using the colours and pattern in the marble choir pavement for inspiration. 

A St Cuthbert kneeler was made in 1985/6 for the Feretory to a design taken from a painting by Joan Freeman.  Lesley Nott completed this work.  Unfortunately most of the gold thread was destroyed in cleaning some years later and the kneeler was withdrawn from use.

Gregory chapel
Items here worked around 1991 included the large dossal curtain which was made to be reversible.  One side was a rich Italian black and gold damask fabric and the other a natural heavy linen suitable for Lent.  A gold Thai Silk Laudian throw was made plus a Lenten throw followed by kneelers for the Altar Rail, Prie-Dieu, Chair and 32 individual ones.  Dorothy Watson chose a Florentine design  for these (in keeping with the Italian theme) and colours from the oriental carpet and the dossal fabric.

Nine altars Chapel
This area, originally a passage way, is now a chapel area and each altar is used at least once a week. 

The Sedilia
Leonard Childs designed the red and black kneelers and cushions for the Sedilia.  The designs depict the saints of the Chapel with Celtic lettering from the 12th century Puiset Bible[1].  This mediaeval Celtic language is a puzzle to read.  The three long kneelers were worked in three lengths and then joined.  The eleven cushions were single pieces.

The Centre Altar dedicated to St Cuthbert and St Bede
The striking reredos panels and the altar frontal were designed by Leonard Childs in 1994.  The reredos wall panels celebrate the coming of Christianity to Northumberland through the teaching of St Aidan (centre), St Cuthbert (left) and St Bede (right) and their great love of the natural world as seen at Lindisfarne.  Their identities are disclosed by the illustrations on the panels and the flora and fauna of Lindisfarne.  The middle panel depicts  St Aidan’s mission of conversion via the torch and the pair of sandals.  The ball of fire surrounded by angels represents Aidan’s soul being carried up to heaven.  A vision of this was said to have led Cuthbert to enter a monastery at Melrose.  Some pearls from the Queen’s wedding dress were included in the working.  The pectoral cross and a chalice represents St Cuthbert’s status as a bishop.  The special relationship which he, as a hermit, had with animals on Lindisfarne, is represented by the puffins, an eider or cuddy duck, a tern and the otter, which according to legend, swam around St Cuthbert when he prayed in the sea.  There is also the Durham dun cow.  The otter has a fish in its mouth as it was realised that no fish had been included!  One of the Broderer’s husbands drew the mole basing the design on a mole their cat caught!) The scrapers, ink and quill and book on St Bede’s panel reflects his scholarly skills.  The panels are mounted onto a wood frame and secured to the inset window shapes.

The Altar frontal uses the patchwork clamshell pattern.  Each shell was originally meant to be 6” but this was changed to 9” to make working easier. The frontal symbolises the journey upwards from darkness into light.  The two “demon” faces at the front corners are a wolf with a flaming mane (representing the paganism that existed as Christianity was spreading through the country), and a lion (the symbol of St Mark – or Christianity, which was also used for the Sanctuary Knocker).  The panels and frontal took the Broderers nearly 4 years to complete.  Leonard Childs himself completed the dog and the duckling.  All the fabric and threads were supplied through Leonard Childs with the Broderers’ tutors interpreting the designs for the Broderers to work.  The cloth needed laundering after serious flooding in the Chapel area a few years ago and unfortunately this has resulted in the cloth puckering badly.

The St Margaret and St Hilds Altars 
The St Hilds Altar has been furnished with three 15 feet long Kneelers depicting St Hild’s journey along the north east coast from South Shields to Whitby commemorating the places where it is believed she founded abbeys.  These were designed by Malcolm Lochhead of Glasgow Caledonian University.  The Broderers were given a free hand in working the green grass areas.  The sand on the beach includes gold thread.  The designs also incorporate a symbolic representation of Runic lettering.[2] 

The St Hild Altar frontal is also rich in symbolism.  Malcom Lochhead wanted to use Durham Quilting in the work.  The fabric is hand made Thai silk.  The white tucked areas are goose Feather patchwork to represent feathers on goose wings reflecting the legend that geese used to fly down in front of St Hild and flap their wings when she was returning to the Abbey at night.  There is an ammonite in the centre, which legend has it, is a serpent killed and turned to stone, and a piece of black jet from Whitby.   

Margaret was Queen of Scotland but came from Germany.  The St Margaret Altar frontal was also designed by Malcolm Lochhead and represents a book opening.  The cross is made from ebony and represents St Margaret’s simple life.  More of the Queen’s pearls are used.  The velvet fabric is unusual and was specially dyed to produce a graduated colour tone.  The original design was for patchwork but the velvet fabric was not suitable for this.  The black dust cloth on top of the Altar was Malcolm Lochhead’s idea – he wanted something restrained.  The St Margaret kneelers are associated with the 3 rivers in Margaret’s life – the Forth, Danube and Wear.  The kneelers are worked in brick stitch apart from the cross stitch silver thread “river” in the centre.

Under Tracy A Franklin, 20 extra individual kneelers for the St Margaret and St Hild’s Chapels were completed in 2010 using the same overall layout for the design and colourways but not the lettering of the large kneelers.  Broderers working the kneelers were able to choose their own stitch patterns for the field areas from the range originally specified.

Cathedral Vestments
Four sets of apparels designed by members of the Broderers had been produced by 1989.  The red, green and blue ones were worked in canvas work and metal threads.  The Festal one was more ornate and included some of the “Queens Pearls”.   (Note that Durham has chosen to wear blue not purple for Lent and funerals.)  In the late 1990s, four sets of vestments each consisting of 1 Chasuble, 3 broad stoles, 1 narrow stole, 1 Orphey, 1 cushion, 1 burse, 1 veil were worked.  The symbolism was designed by Joan Freeman and worked in gold and silver threads, fine padded kid and silk threads.  The blue set with the alpha and omega and vine leaves design is for funerals, Advent and Lent as Durham has chosen to use blue not the usual purple.  The design of the red robes used for saints days include flames for the annunciation and the Holy Spirit.   The green vestments are worn on normal days. 

The Malinsky copes were designed by Renata Malinksy in the 1970’s.  She used various designs from the Cathedral eg the chevrons on the pillars.  The copes were machine embroidered.  They are not currently used as cleaning has removed much of the gold from the gold kid leather used in the designs. 

Current work by the Broderers
Altar frontals and vestments for Lent
Tracy A Franklin has designed altar frontals for the High and Nave Altars, with a set of vestments including broad and narrow stoles.  The Broderers are aiming to finish this project for Lent in 2013 stitching and embroidering everything by hand following traditional ecclesiastical methods. 

The material for the frontals and vestments is an unbleached natural linen fabric resembling sack cloth.  The high Altar frontal is decorated with desert grasses of silk fabric fixed using Bondaweb and then sewn using an invented stitch -  single running stitches running parallel to the edge of the blade held in place at either end of each stitch by a small stab stitch placed at 90° to the original stitch now named 'Durham stitch'.  The grasses are paler in colour at the centre of the cloth, moving to richer colours at either end representing new life.  A crown  of thorns sit centrally on the cloth at the centre of the frontal.  The various branches of the thorns have been worked in padded gold kid.  The prongs of some of the thorns have been worked using the or nué technique with the thread progressing from gold to dense red towards the point to simulate Christ’s blood.  Some thorns are free standing.  All the branches of the crown of thorns are outlined with pearl purl gold metal thread.  The Nave Altar frontal has a smaller but similar crown of thorns without grasses.

The chasuble, dalmatic and tunicle have a panel of coloured silk grasses on the front and back of the vestments with extra grasses on the sleeves of the dalmatic as part of the set for the High Altar.  These grasses are hand sewn using long and short stitch on one side and herringbone stitch on the other.  One further chasuble will be part of the Nave Altar set, with both chasubles worked with a small Crown of Thorns in pearl purl on the front.  Stoles in various widths have a small (4”) pearl purl crown of thorns worked at the bottom of each edge and a St Cuthbert’s cross at the nape of the neck. 

As well as undertaking new embroideries, in addition to new work, the Broderers also carry out repairs to vestments and existing kneelers as required.  They have also made a number of fabric microphone holders in red, green, blue and gold silk.  The neck cords were hand made from matching stranded cotton.

Last updated January 2013
References:  Various notes from Durham Cathedral Guides and official Cathedral publications, Wikipaedia

[1] Hugh de Puiset (1125? – 1195) was enthroned Bishop of Durham in 1154.  He governed the bishopric and palatinate with a strong hand and was responsible, amongst other things, for establishing a leper hospital at Sherburn, for the building of the Cathedral’s Gallilee Chapel and for commissioning a survey of all settled rents and customs due to him from the bishopric, effectively the  ‘Domesday Book’ of the Durham Palatinate, popularly known as ‘Boldon Buke.’  He also commissioned two large Bibles, one of which still remains at Durham in the Cathedral Library and is considered a masterpiece of book creation.

[2] Runes or Runic is the ancient Norse alphabet, whose script is related to Greek and Roman lettering, and believed to be in use until the fifteenth century.  Letters were often carved in stone.