Sometime ago, while working on The Goodhart Samplers book, when I was researching the Mary Postle sampler, I found a number of samplers with similar format and characteristics. Looking through our large archive of museum images I began to see what looked like other exemplars, though the format was somewhat different. When I was able to trace some of the girls, it appeared they all came from in and around Norwich and all were aged about 14 when they stitched their samplers. Then fate stepped in, and I learnt that a researcher in the USA had found similarities amongst a set of samplers on the other side of the pond. She, too, had in fact arrived earlier than me at the same conclusion - that there was a 'Norwich School' of samplers. Just like Edwina Ehrman who researched the Judith Hayle samplers and found an Ipswich school of samplers, sampler makers and teachers, Joanne Lukacher is now writing a book about the Norwich girls which will be published next year. It is so thrilling!
Markers for the Norwich samplers include facing stags, a foreleg raised on a stepped mound. Octagonal cartouches, lions with raised tails, distinctive conifers and scattered birds are among other markers. All samplers exhibit beautiful crewel work floral displays. If you see a sampler with any of these markers, we would love to hear from you. And here is your opportunity to download a charted fragment from one of the Norwich School samplers, to stitch your own version.