Stockport Heritage Trust

Protecting the past for future generations

Registered charity no. 700124

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Crewel work bed hangings

Sections of the Curtain being Stitched

Work on the hangings began by  embroidering small designs copied from an authentic pattern. As a result, lots of small pieces of work were completed and appliqued (cut out and sewn on with an outline which made it look original to the fabric) on to the large linen curtain which had been stretched onto a frame.

Stitchers busy working in 2006

Work progressed considerably in a year, this picture taken, November 2007

By March 2008, the curtain had been rolled on to start work further up, allowing a brief glimpse at the work so far (slideshow left), and was finished in November.

The reverse side, showing tidying up of threads

The word 'crewel' refers to the actual wool used, rather than the type of stitches. It generally means two threads of wool twisted together to make one strand.

This kind of embroidery became very popular in the 17th Century, and although there were professional embroiderers employed by the rich, the work would also be done by members of the household, especially the ladies, with plenty of time on their hands. Having seen how dark some of the rooms were, and the terrible quality of  lighting available though, if a lady were to busy her evenings with the needle, I hate to think what it would have done to her eyesight!

The materials for the embroideries were authentic, to the 17th Century  with wools dyed in the original processes being sourced from France. You can find out more about this on their website

The linen too, was the same as that used nearly 400 years ago.

Work then continued on the other curtains, until completion in 2011.

The fully decorated bed can now be viewed by visitors to Staircase House.