Saturday, 12 September 2009

Four Little Maids from School Are We*

Frances Batchelor 1794

Last week my friend Pat Judson pointed me in the way of Dawn Lewis' Needlework Antiques sampler website. Of course, I had to make a pot of tea and look at all the wonderful samplers there. And, wonder upon wonders, I found a sister sampler to a known set of three. So now there are four. I came across the first in the series when I was imaging the sampler collection for the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. Stitched by Sarah Williamson in 1795 it struck me as decorative and interesting. Then, later, working on the Goodhart Collection, we found another exemplar there, stitched by Elizabeth Tatham in 1806. Mmmm - even more interesting, in spite of small differences, could we possibly be looking at a school? In March this year I sent some sample pages of our books to the Ipswich Museum - one of the pages being of the Goodhart Sampler. And what should come back from the curator? An emailed image of a sampler very similar to the Goodhart one, this time stitched by Alice Blizzard in 1803. Mmmm, now we can be pretty sure we are looking at a school. Not a bad innings. I thought that would be that. But last week, looking through Dawn's collection, I found yet another one, this time like the one at the Fitzwilliam. And even better, Dawn has a provenance which places the maker, Frances Batchelor in Buckinghamshire in 1794. I am really pleased - this is exactly why I am trying to release as many sampler images as possible, so we can make these connections. Alone the samplers are - lovely samplers. Taken together, and in a context, we have a set of meaningful historical documents. Do let me know if you happen to have one in your collection at home, won't you?

* with apologies to W S Gilbert (taken from the Mikado)

Sarah Williamson 1795

Elizabeth Tatham 1806

Alice Blizzard 1803


  1. This entry gives me chills and excitement all at the same time. I will be on the look out for others and help pass the word to others.

  2. I wonder, did the schools for girls here in the US do the same sort of embroidery patterns that were passed from one class to another?

  3. How wonderfully exciting Jacqueline! The more people we can educate about samplers, the better the chances of finding groups and linking them to specific schools...this is a real find!

  4. They are so beautifull. Imagine how much more there can be...